200ml, 300ml, 375ml, 385ml, 600ml, 1.25-litre, 2-litre..
Take a stroll down the soft drink aisle in your local supermarket and you can’t help but notice that Coca-Cola has every size covered. Consumers “on the go” can choose from the 200ml, 300ml slim can and 330ml glass bottle, as well as its 600ml bottle and 375ml can. For sharing occasions, there’s the 1.25-litre and 2-litre bottles … not to mention the multi-packs.
It’s the same story in the USA, Europe and many other countries around the world. Multiple size offerings form a big part of Coke’s sales strategy. In their view, the more package sizes they have on store shelves, the more consumers they can target.
It comes down to Coke’s focus on what they call “drinking occasions”. Coke has identified more than 30 “drinking occasions”, ranging from “family home meal” to “gotta have it to go”. Sometimes, the product fits more than one occasion; for example, the “slim” 200ml can is targeted at health-conscious consumers on the go.
But Coke isn’t the only brand doing this.
Increasingly, the size of product packaging is becoming a mirror of society: it has to be tailored ever more precisely to specific consumer lifestyle needs. This is most evident in the food and beverage sector, but also spans across personal care, home care and other products.
Here are some of trends, and how they are impacting on packaging size.
Up, up and away
In our mobile world, consumers are demanding products that lend themselves to on-the-go consumption. The growing popularity of single-serve, pre-cut and ready-to-consume products reflects the importance of convenience today.
But by far the most interesting trend in packaging sizes is one driven by the increase in international travel. Air passengers are not permitted to carry more than 100ml of shampoo, toothpaste or other liquids in their hand luggage, meaning many people wishing to fly without check-in luggage will buy miniature travel-friendly bottles of their personal care items … and they are willing to pay far more than their regular-sized equivalents for the convenience. In 2012 a study found that British consumers are paying up to 750% more per millilitre for travel-sized goods. It’s no wonder, then, that some pharmacies and convenience stores devote entire aisles to these travel-sized items.
Sharing is caring
Consumers are increasingly choosing to make their experiences a shared one with friends, family and colleagues. We’re seeing this desire to share translate into large-size packaging that encourages community consumption.
In April this year, Cadbury introduced a new 135g Dairy Milk block size, which it says is “designed specifically with small families in mind, to be enjoyed as a family sharing treat, but also ideal for intimate sharing occasions for couples”. And last summer, Diageo launched a mini keg of Bundaberg Rum & Cola. This isn’t a new type of packaging — we saw Heineken mini kegs launched back in 2007 — but its reintroduction suggests F&B brands are sitting up and taking notice of the sharing trend. According to Katrina Diamonon, senior analyst for Datamonitor, mini kegs have the appeal of novelty and are particularly suited to social gatherings and entertaining occasions where such formats encourage sharing and discussing. They also fit the broader trend for at-home entertaining.
For several years now, portion control has driven manufacturers to create packaging sizes that adhere to certain health and nutrition requirements. Coke is one example of this. Coke states on its website that the smaller sizes of cans and bottles are to help consumers manage their kilojoules. Some manufacturers take it further with packs that contain a specific amount of kilojoules or ‘daily intake’. Take Smith’s Chips multipacks. Each inner pack has less than 100 calories (418 kilojoules), which Smiths says is less than the 600 kilojoules recommended by nutritionists as a sensible serve size for snacks.
In a sluggish economy, many brands tweak their packaging to address affordability — both for the consumer and the brands. In 2009 Cadbury controversially reduced the size of its Dairy Milk blocks from 250 grams to 200 grams, claiming that cocoa prices had doubled and they didn’t want to have to raise the prices of the blocks for consumers. In April 2013, Cadbury has increased its block size by 10% without affecting the recommended retail price. Some consumers, though, have pointed out that this is still smaller than the original bars.
On the other side of the world in 2012, a troubled economic forecast saw a rise in stay-at-home drinking for many European consumers – especially in the UK where this was combined with Olympic fever. Manufacturers answered to the trend with more mixed drinks, such as gin and tonic, whisky and cola, vodka and fruit juices, packaged in metal cans and share sizes.
Drive brand interest
The energy drink category is a good example of brands using packaging sizes to grab consumers’ interest. Red Bull and Mother have introduced novel packaging formats, such as “energy shot” miniatures and XL-sized cans with resealable lids. Last year in Australia, Coke increased its glass bottle size from 250ml to 330ml, stating that Australian soft drink consumers think that 330ml is the “ideal bottle size”. They simply asked consumers what they wanted … and gave it to them in a bottle.
How do your packaging sizes satisfy various “occasions”? Are you evaluating your packaging sizes according to changing lifestyle needs? Being on top of emerging lifestyle trends means you can start innovating with pack sizes that meet consumer demands and encourage sales growth.