Consumers Remain Bored with Packaged Goods: Packaging Design and Innovation is the Answer

Consumers Remain Bored with Packaged Goods: Packaging Design and Innovation is the Answer

By: Berlin Packaging Specialist
Date: October 28, 2019

The Backstory

Back in 2002, Accenture released an article presenting findings from a study conducted on consumer spending trends, which contained the following factoid:

“Although survey participants indicated they would like to see more innovation from companies, nearly one-third of them said they believe that most products and services created today have nothing new about them. In addition, three-fourths of respondents said they expect little meaningful innovation in products and services in the next two years.”

Chalk one up to Accenture's crystal ball. An article published on October 25, 2010, in Advertising Age shows that this trend continues today, with satisfaction indexes falling in categories from beverages to personal care to cleaning. As in 2002, the one bright spot where consumers continue to be delighted is electronics.


Innovation outside the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) world has spoiled us. Our 4G iPod has twice as much memory, a better screen, and costs less than last year's. At the risk of channeling Andy Rooney, shouldn't our deodorants, glass cleaners, and toothpastes also be markedly better and cheaper than they were last year?

Save to Spend

Perhaps it's impractical to expect that our favorite brand of car wax could reinvent its formula every year, but shouldn't it fix the age-old problem of the cap coming off? Even if we can't see what motor oil does for us, shouldn't our one interaction with it (changing our oil) be easier than it was 20 years ago? Consumers apparently think so; some have termed this new trend, "Save to Spend". These consumers are shifting their FMCG consumption choices away from branded goods to private label, and then using the surplus to purchase affordable luxuries and $99 per month phone data plans.

Product Proliferation Isn't Innovation (and Promotes Indifference!)

Whereas a national brand used to signal higher performance or quality, 8 in 10 consumers now feel that store brands come from the same plants as the national brands. As only 4 in 10 FMCG companies have increased their R&D spend over the last 10 years, many national brands have taken the low road of launching product extensions rather than innovating their products. Consumers are on to the game! A recent survey showed over 53 flavor (not size) varieties between the top two toothpaste brands, and we've all lost count of our Coca-Cola options. Instead of helping us navigate quickly to our favorite products, marketers have sprinkled a simple trip to the cold case with vitamin enhanced caffeine free no high-fructose corn syrup confusion.

Innovation Through Packaging

Unlike a dollar spent on reformulation, improved packaging offers tangible evidence of a brand’s improvement. Unlike a dollar spent on advertising, a dollar spent on attractive functional custom packaging pays long-lasting dividends and delivers an improvement in consumers' experiences. This sort of tangible innovation is exactly what "Save to Spend" consumers are shifting toward, so how will you respond? In short, jaded consumers have a disease and innovation is the cure!