Packaging matters a great deal – and can help push a product upmarket, SIAL delegates are told

November 24, 2023

When it comes to selling food and drinks, it is not just the product itself that matters – the packaging that it comes in is important too.

This was highlighted during a presentation at the most recent edition of SIAL Paris, where Marie Sermadiras, the CEO of Cosfibel, highlighted how the sector is moving towards more premium products.

“Our ambition at Cosfibel is to create memorable customer experiences, because we believe packs and gifts are an inescapable way to create customer experience and value,” she told delegates.

“We’re reinventing ourselves year after year to be as modern as possible, to continue creating these experiences.”

Cosfibel works in three main sectors – food, wine and spirits, and beauty, is just over two decades old and has 20 offices across the world.

Packaging encompasses several elements, including the pack itself, gifts that may come with it, and wrapping, which may include a shopping bag, a ribbon or a foldable pack.

Packaging matters a great deal - and can help push a product upmarket, SIAL delegates are told

Photo credit: Agenlaku Indonesia / Unplash

The company operates in three key industries, namely fine food, wine and spirits, and beauty.

“The amazing thing is that we learn a lot in terms of creativity across those three markets. So there’s a lot we learn on how we can be more creative in food from beauty and vice versa.”

Packaging is important because, Ms Sermadiras said, it is the best way to create difference and can be a key to attracting customers to take a product off the shelf and purchase it. It needs to, she said, create a “wow effect” and surprise the customer.

But it’s not just about looks, because functionality is also important, which in the case of food means that the packaging must be “food secure”.

Often with food, unlike with beauty products, the customer will open and close the box multiple times, so the box must be suitable for this.

“You can’t do whatever you want in food; you need to make sure it’s convenient,” she said.

Packaging is also the ideal platform for companies to express their values, which might be about innovation or sustainability.

“It is really key to express them through your packaging,” Ms Sermadiras said. “It’s the best possible platform for this. All this is true and needs to be consistent across all your packaging. Not a one-off on one specific box.”

Packaging matters a great deal - and can help push a product upmarket, SIAL delegates are told

Photo credit: Nik Lv / Unsplash

Packaging is “premiumising” in the food industry, according to Ms Sermadiras, so where before it may have been made from cardboard or plastic, today it may be made from wood or metal.

She said that some products, when sold in more premium packaging, were being sold for several times the value of equivalent products sold in non-premium packaging. While the product itself may be more upmarket, the packaging is part of the reason why a higher price can be charged.

Another trend is that packaging is trying harder to be different and to attract customers with new shapes instead of just a square box.

For example, Cosfibel’s factory in Spain created packaging that was origami-like, so that no glue or magnet was needed to maintain the shape, just folding.

“This is an amazing way to surprise the customer and to make sure that your packaging is very environmentally friendly as well,” she said.

Referencing another example, Ms Sermadiras said that packaging could, on its own, create a display that customers could open to create “a true experience”.

“Another trend is creating new turnkey products,” she said. “We developed a product for one of our clients, a French pastry producer, which is a mix between a shopping bag and the box.

“You surprise your customer and have a very environmentally friendly approach, which is to mix two products into one. You only need one and you have something that is different.”

Main photo credit: Conor Brown / Unsplash

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