3 labelling trends food & beverage manufacturers need to know

labelling trends food & beverage manufacturers

Are you ready for the future of labelling? Consumer needs are changing faster than ever. So it’s never been more important for food & beverage manufacturers to stay alert and ahead of the game.

Here are three labelling trends food & beverage manufacturers in Australia need to know:

Trend #1: Clean labelling

“Clean” is the new “green” according to industry experts. At this year’s IFT Food Expo in Chicago, Innova Market Insights explained how consumers today are demanding transparency.

People want to know more about products, ingredients and the companies that manufacture and sell them. This desire for transparency extends to the actual ingredients too. Today’s consumers are looking for shorter lists of ingredients, including natural ingredients and names they recognise. In essence: “clean labelling” is about clarity and specificity. For example, the word “natural” shouldn’t be used without explanation. Consumers (as well as industry regulators and retailers) want to know what it means and why it will benefit them. Food & beverage manufacturers also need to know when a food substance becomes a food additive, or processing aid, or even a nutritive substance. (This course on “clean labelling” is being run in September, to address this and many other points.)

Australian food & beverage brands should look at how they can use clean labelling to educate consumers, helping them understand why specific ingredients are in products. There’s no “one size fits all” for a clean label; it comes down to what makes sense for your product, category and customers. (You may find this article interesting on how Millennials are forever changing packaging with regard to authentic information.)

Trend #2: ‘Social good’ labelling

Coke is no stranger to innovative drinks labelling. Everyone remembers the “Share a Coke” campaign of 2011. The brand sold more than 250 million named bottles and cans in Australia — a country of just under 23 million people — and eventually reached 10 countries.

Now the beverage giant has launched a “no label” campaign. Devised by advertising agency FP7/DXB in Dubai, the campaign promotes a world without labels. Using the slogan, “Labels are for cans, not for people”, Coke wants to send a message about how “a world without labels is a world without differences”. And to set an example, the brand is dropping labels from its own products.

Powerful stuff, isn’t it? Coke’s latest brainchild shows the power of labelling in social marketing campaigns, a trend that is only getting bigger. Another great is example is the YouTube hit, “Run like a Girl”. Anyone who has anything to do with primary school-age children may have come across this short vid put together by female hygiene brand Always. It aims to show the effect of gender stereotyping on teenage girls and has even been used by teachers as an educational tool. Perhaps a front-runner of this trend was Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign? 

Trend #3: Smart labelling 

It should come as no surprise to see smart labelling on this list. For the past couple of years, smart labelling has been teetering on the edge of mainstream labelling, and, to be honest, it’s still not quite there.

However, now that one of the biggest alcoholic drinks beverage giants is on board, we’re getting closer: The Johnnie Walker Blue Label smart bottle was displayed at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Thinfilm Electronics has teamed up with Diageo to create a smart label that uses near-field communications (NFC) to communicate with consumers and verify the product’s authenticity.

Thinfilm’s OpenSense technology comprises tags and sensors that can detect the bottle’s sealed and open state. When the consumer scans the tag with their smartphone, Diageo can send targeted and timely messages, either in the store (with offers and discounts) or after purchase (with cocktail recipes and serving information).

The big question is will the smart labelling trend take off or is it just a novelty? While we can’t definitively answer that, it’s worth considering that Australia has one of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world. Consumers are now using their mobile phones throughout the shopping journey for research, product discovery and purchase. So food & beverage companies — or any consumer brand for that matter — should be looking at how to use this to engage consumers and provide the customer experience they want. You may find this article on disruptive technologies (including the use of smart labelling) that are ready to rock the supply chain.

Check out how QR codes are another really interesting way to engage customers. Find out more on QR codes (and others) and about this 2D code. You may also find it interesting to read about the impact of labelling on 2 ends of the wine export market to China, and the 2015 global packaging trends.

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Trent Munro

Trent Munro

Manager – Strategy & Business Development at Matthews Australasia
Trent Munro is an accomplished business strategist, marketing innovator and speaker specialising in business development and optimisation. Over the past 15 years, he has worked across a range of blue-chip and medium enterprises including Goodyear Automotive, Clariant, Corona Manufacturing and Matthews Australasia. Trent holds a range of postgraduate and graduate qualifications in Commerce, Psychology, Project Management and Science. At Matthews Australasia, he has overseen market development locally and abroad, launching class leading traceability and automation technologies across manufacturing, healthcare and logistics.

by Trent Munro

Trent Munro is an accomplished business strategist, marketing innovator and speaker specialising in business development and optimisation. Over the past 15 years, he has worked across a range of blue-chip and medium enterprises including Goodyear Automotive, Clariant, Corona Manufacturing and Matthews Australasia. Trent holds a range of postgraduate and graduate qualifications in Commerce, Psychology, Project Management and Science. At Matthews Australasia, he has overseen market development locally and abroad, launching class leading traceability and automation technologies across manufacturing, healthcare and logistics.

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