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Winning over the hearts of today’s ‘connected’ consumers

Tetra Pak Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines marketing and product management director John Jose with Tetra Pak Consumer Insights manager Michela Vallalta.

MANILA, Philippines — In an effort to provide much-needed insight into the global trends and opportunities shaping the future of the food and beverage industry, food processing and packaging solutions company Tetra Pak has released the findings of its annual Tetra Pak Index report during the recent Tetra Pak innovation seminar held at the New World Hotel, Makati City which was attended by food and beverage companies from the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

Tetra Pak developed a wide range of packages to protect both the nutritional value and the taste of the food products inside.

Tetra Pak Index 2017

Asia Pacific is a dynamic and rapidly growing region particularly on the digital landscape. This region alone accounted for 70 percent of total growth in global Internet users and 62 percent of the growth in social media users according to a recent Digital in 2017 Global Overview. In the Philippines, there are 60 million active Facebook users, 90 percent of which access Facebook via mobile devices. Understanding the rapid digital growth rates and trends will help brands to talk and reach out to consumers, most of which prefer online interaction via mobile devices.

Tetra Pak Index 2017 delves into the evolving behavior of consumers, specifically ‘The Connected Consumers’ who are constantly connected and looking for authentic and engaging content from brands. Now on its 10th edition, the 2017 Tetra Pak Index reveals insights on today’s digitally savvy population and how they are connecting with food and drinks brands. The index also identified a group of ‘super leaders’, the most influential subset of the wider online community. When engaged, super leaders can help brands to spread messages, shape opinions and help build trust in products. The report is based on research across 57 markets with 70,000 consumers, plus “deep dive” qualitative quantitative surveys to gain rich insights into online behaviour, customer journeys and what, how and why content is shared online.

Tetra Pak Malaysia, Singapore and Philippines marketing director John Jose explains, “With the rapid increase of connectivity through devices that carry multiple digital platforms and the rise of Millennials and Generation Z as the next set of power-spenders, brands need to understand the attitude and behavior of these Connected Consumers in purchasing a product and create a seamless brand experience that translates well both online and offline.”

Packaging’s vital role

Aside from the consumer’s digital habits, the study also demonstrates that packaging has an important role to play in offering a gateway to greater consumer engagement. Food and beverages are still overwhelmingly purchased offline and stores continue to be a top source of new product discovery, according to the report.

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 “In this day and age where a lot of people are connected, there is a tendency to lose control in terms of the messages that the brands want to deliver so if there’s one element that the brands still fully own and control, it’s the package. For the brand, what they put and what they say on the package has become more important because the packaging can convey what they really want to say. The supermarket shelves are still the last point when consumers make the buying decisions. The consumer spends just a few seconds looking at products in the supermarkets and stores so packaging is still a key point in making the final purchase decision,” Jose explains.

Looking ahead, packaging innovation can help brands bridge the online and offline experience with consumers. For example, digital codes printed on packages could allow consumers to connect directly to the brand site simply by scanning the code using their smartphone, which will open a web page with product information, discover ingredients or recipes, shop in virtual stores or enter competitions. With smartphones now capable of automated QR code-scanning capability, removing the need for scanning apps, this will enable brands to engage, entertain, and educate consumers in real time, and make it even more convenient for consumers to use and benefit from digital packaging.

The rise of super leaders

The study also discovered a new kind of consumer segmentation framework. The most active and most social in this group are called super leaders. Online for more than six hours a day, they are well connected and highly vocal. About 80 percent of super leaders read reviews/ratings on food and beverages monthly, with 68 percent writing reviews at least monthly. Their comments shared online, with 75 percent on social media, have a key role to play in today’s customer journey. Almost all who write reviews and comments tag the relevant brands at least some of the time, which reflects their desire to be heard and their expectation of getting a response, and 78 percent say that they expect the brand to reply.

Representing just seven percent of the global online population, this small but powerful segment is the influencers, trendsetters and early adopters. Tetra Pak Consumer Insights manager Michela Vallalta understands the role of these super leaders and how important they are in delivering the message of companies and brands. “Regardless of where consumers are buying, the way consumers are looking for information is changing. When super leaders are engaged with the right content and in the right way, they can become brand advocates. They focus on engagement and socializing and their behavior is becoming a leading source of information online. Other groups follow the trends that super leaders set,” Vallalta concludes.

Winning over the heart of a connected consumer in a digital, information-saturated world presents both a challenge and an opportunity for brands. In addition to the product, brands need to adjust their communications and use more channel-specific, smart, authentic and engaging content via the right group of influencers such as super leaders if they are to seize the opportunities in this new world. Packaging is one of the tools that has a vital role to play in offering a gateway to greater consumer engagement, stronger differentiation among businesses, and ultimately, creating a sustainable competitive edge over other brands now and in the future.


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