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The Future of Digital Content and Online Shopping

Posted By: SGK May 01, 2017

This blog was contributed by Lian Stevenson, Client Solutions Engagement Manager, SGK

The world of e-commerce is continuously evolving. Keeping up with the demands of the ever-sophisticated consumer remains the challenge for brand owners.

Online shopping has had a huge impact on e-commerce. 59% of traffic on e-commerce sites is from mobile devices in terms of browsing and research, however, conversion and revenue still predominantly comes from the desktop or laptop. This suggests that browsing is often done on the go and purchase is conducted later when the consumer has more time.

This omni-channel approach to shopping means giving consumers the best experience of an e-commerce store is even more important. We know that content sells, the more the better in fact as it can increase only sales by 58%. So what does this mean for you as a brand owner?

There is a shift occurring across the online CPG space. One that is developing from the traditional pack shot to what the industry is calling hero images.

As a consumer, have you ever bought a product online and when it arrived, it’s not been the size you thought it was? The reality is, the way consumers are shopping has resulted in pack shots not being enough to communicate pack information clearly and quickly.

If consumers have to work hard to identify the information that determines their purchase intention (size, variant, format), they are frustrated and can result in an abandoned purchase. Convenience and time saving is now more important than ever to consumers.

In truth, consumers can be quite lazy shoppers. They tend to only look at the images and they scroll very fast until they find what they believe they are looking for. Based on this insight alone, it’s clear that images need to work much harder.

Leading the way in hero images has been Unilever, who have conducted their own study on consumer behaviour on online shopping through eye tracking across all mobile devices. With the help of the Cambridge University Inclusive Design Group, they have developed the format of what we now refer to as hero images.

It’s clear to see how these are an improvement on the traditional pack shot.

Consider the screen size of the various devices. There is a limit to how big a pack shot can be depending on the size and shape of the product. The result is that the pack shot is too small within the screen size and consumers can’t read the detail on the pack — making shopping much harder.

How does it work? A hero image allows you to maximise the full area of the screen and pull out some of the key features that clearly defines the brand, variant, size and format.

Through initial testing on using this method on their laundry sector, Unilever saw an uplift in conversion of 2.6% and their other brands followed suit; Magnum (24%), Simple (19%) and Ben & Jerry’s (4%). What this shows is that hero images are making finding products easier for the consumer.

Unilever now has live hero images on 40 e-retailer sites across 20 different markets. Following in their footsteps have been the likes of P&G, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s and L'Oréal, who are now doing similar executions on the e-retail platforms.

This movement is not eliminating the pack shot; far from it as content is still a key driver in the purchasing journey. The more a consumer can see the better. Since 2014, the FIR EU 1169 Guidelines advises that consumer should be able to access the same information online as they have access to on the physical pack in-store.

In fact, there are other ways to enhance your traditional pack shot without moving completely to hero images. This can easily be done by adapting the artwork on your core packaging to pull out key information including the brand, size and format, which allows for the pack to stand out better in the digital window.

Whichever route you’re best positioned to deliver, the good news is that they can all be produced using the approved pack shot artwork.

The important thing to remember is that content plays in the consumer shopping experience, and how you present that content will ultimately determine whether consumers purchase from you or another brand. Doing a good job with your content has a direct and impactful affect on sales.

For more information on how to leverage your packaging artwork and maximise your digital content, download: The Connected Package: The Next Generation in Brand Efficiency, Interaction and Appeal

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Variable Marking and Coding: Making the Best of a Necessary Good

Variable markings on packages and labels can benefit brands in many ways – from meeting requirements for traceability, to assuring consumers of product authenticity and freshness, to delivering a customized experience that builds loyalty.

But for some brand managers, variable printing carries a stigma of being costly, difficult to manage and error-prone. It doesn’t have to be that way.

In our latest issue of Patterns, we explore how variable printing can support high-quality production while helping your brand stand apart in the marketplace. Getting marking and coding right is easier than you think – and crucial for brand performance.

For this and four more articles from SGK’s global marketing experts, read Making Connections: Brand Insights from Around the World. Download the full Patterns report now.

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How Leading CPGs Are Catering To The New Food Consumer

Posted By: SGK September 01, 2015
How Leading CPGs Are Catering To The New Food Consumer

Growing nutritional awareness has rebalanced the competitive landscape for nearly every food and beverage category. In the past few years, we’ve seen many large, traditional brands suffer while smaller brands with meaningful (or perceived) health advantage have gained significant market share. 

But big brands are not all waving the white flag, writes Bruce Levinson, VP of Client Engagement at SGK in his recent Media Post Marketing Daily blog. There are inspiring examples of leading brands that are taking bold steps to win over consumer amid this sea change. Some have reformulated their products to fit today’s expectations. Others have held onto their recipes, but created portion sizes that fit better with a healthy lifestyle. And still others have updated their claims strategy and have highlighted benefits that are not new but only recently became important. 

Starbucks’ Mini Frappuccino as a recent example of an offering that allows consumers to indulge in a treat they want, but in a portion size that doesn’t lead to guilt. Various soda and beer brands have also successfully marketed smaller version of their staple products, with a nod towards fewer calories per serving. Often these products are sold at a relative price (per ounce) to their larger-sized siblings, providing the brand with a healthier image and balance sheet says Levinson. 

Kraft has pledged to remove artificial colors, flavors and preservatives from its Macaroni and Cheese brand. As a staple in nearly every American grocery store for generations, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese has seen sales negatively impacted by natural brands like Annie’s. It can be risky to significantly change a product, but as Millennials start their own families and look for healthier brands for their kids, Kraft understands the potential for even greater risk in sticking with its current recipe. 

These examples are all being driven by consumer’s desires, not government regulation (though that is coming too, either late in 2015 or early in 2016 with the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels). Anyone managing food or beverage brands today will do well to consider the implications of heightened nutritional awareness before the rush. 

For more expert advice on how to prepare for the big change visit Schawk’s Label Central.

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Keeping it real: Techniques for using packaging as a front-line defense against counterfeiting

Posted By: SGK July 22, 2015
How to brands can beat counterfeiters at their own game

How much money and prestige does your brand lose to counterfeiting? Do you even know?

Here’s the thing: No one really knows. That’s the nature of counterfeiting. It’s a black market, and we can only know for certain the value of counterfeit products that are actually intercepted. What fraction of the total counterfeit market do those known examples represent? All we can do is make educated guesses.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be trying to understand the scope of the problem. In fact, you should be doing everything you can to discover as much as you can about how your products are being counterfeited, where the fakes are coming from, where they’re going, and how much it’s costing you in money and brand equity – all with a view to stopping it.

The challenge for brands is to adopt anti-counterfeiting measures that are extremely difficult to detect or reproduce, easy for supply-chain and retail partners to validate, and also affordable to implement either alone or in combination.

Smart brands and smart technologies can thwart the bad guys. 

Secure packaging is an important part of what Saueressig, part of our brand deployment group, does. They have a portfolio of security technologies and customer-specific techniques that we cannot talk about publicly. In fact, their security operations are isolated from the rest of their printing and converting business, with physical and informational access only possible by their security specialists with the right credentials and a need to know.

Nothing is more crucial to the anti-counterfeiting project than scrupulous security hygiene. However, there are two innovative techniques we can talk about that illustrate the characteristics brands should be looking for in a packaging security system. These techniques are available to any brand, relatively easy and affordable to implement, and highly secure.

Micro-text.

One technique involves micro-text printing. An extremely fine-resolution lasing method is used to create text on a gravure cylinder that’s too small for the unaided eye to detect and can easily be hidden within the overall package design.

For example, a single character of fine print on the package that’s already difficult to read at 1mm high might reveal, under microscopic examination, that it’s actually composed of dozens of smaller letters on the order of tens of microns high. Microscopic line images are also possible, and can be hidden within larger text or another image.

These features can be placed anywhere on the package, and the micro-text can be changed and/or moved to a different location in subsequent printings. To copy the micro-text, counterfeiters would have to know that it exists and where to look for it. Plus, they would need access to extremely sophisticated, proprietary pico-laser engraving equipment that’s simply not available on the market and impossible for a counterfeiter to engineer independently.

However, the specialized gravure cylinder can be incorporated cost-effectively into a normal printing line, and the micro-text can easily be verified by anyone who knows where to look with suitable magnifying equipment. 

Hidden Images.

Another approach is to include a hidden image within a design element. An image that is completely invisible to the naked eye can be included within the package design, and people who need to verify the authenticity of the product can be supplied with a special decoder. Typically about the size of a credit card, this semi-transparent decoder is embossed with a special line structure designed to reveal the hidden image. The user simply places the decoder over the package to reveal the image.

The hidden image can be created as part of the normal printing process, and the decoder is simple and affordable for a security provider to produce. But the combination provides very strong security. 


The image is not visible to the naked eye, and, similar to two-factor authentication, a counterfeiter would need to know the image exists in the first place and also have access to the correct decoder in order to discover what it is. Even with that knowledge, the hidden image is nearly impossible to scan at the required resolution and essentially impossible to reproduce with the line structures and detail that would be required to “fool” the decoder.

As difficult as the system is to copy, however, product authentication couldn’t be easier: Just place the decoder over the package and check for the hidden image. Simple validation is essential for any package security system to be fully effective.

Beating counterfeiters at their own game ultimately depends on the ability to identify them in the marketplace and using product authentication technologies that are far beyond their reach. Though the search for fakes may range far and wide, it begins with securing the product package. 

Download Patterns – Innovation Everywhere: Improving Brand Performance from Concept to Consumer and more about how to use packaging as a first-line defense against counterfeiting.

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Don't Just Be Consistent. Be Relevant.

Your brand needs to be consistent across every channel – that goes without saying. What never gets said is this: Consistency alone doesn’t inspire action. True, the core of the brand experience needs to be instantly recognizable in every encounter. But each encounter should have unique relevance to each particular consumer, in each particular time and place. That’s how a brand becomes part of a lifestyle.

Think beyond omnichannel to omnirelevance. Read the new article from SGK for ideas and inspiration, with examples from brands that understand how to be surprising, delightful and helpful in every interaction.

For this and four more articles on improving brand performance from concept to consumer, read the complete Patterns report, Innovation Everywhere. Download Patterns, Issue 1, 2015.

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Reimagining Value: How Standout Brands Create New Choices

Consumer values aren’t static. They’re not constrained. They’re not predictable. Consumer values evolve, intersect and recombine in ways that continually open new opportunities for agile brands. The key is to discover a confluence of values that is not being served in the current marketplace, and to fill that niche.

Here’s a look at how trendsetting brands are doing it – and the new go-to-market strategies they’re pursuing to leapfrog the competition. Read this new SGK article and get inspiration for creating your own standout brand strategy.

For this and four more articles on improving brand performance from concept to consumer, read the complete Patterns report, Innovation Everywhere. Download Patterns, Issue 1, 2015.

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Navigating the Way to Structural Packaging Innovation

You may have good financial and logistical reasons for redesigning your package – for example, from a rigid bottle to a flexible pouch. But you need to give consumers good reasons to embrace the new package. You also need to give manufacturers good reasons to produce it.

You’ve built a lot of brand equity into your current packaging. If you’re thinking about a structural redesign, read this new article from SGK to learn best practices for avoiding risks and fostering even greater loyalty when your new package hits the shelves.

For this and four more articles on improving brand performance from concept to consumer, read the complete Patterns report, Innovation Everywhere. Download Patterns, Issue 1, 2015.

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ANTHEM Sightings Special Edition, Issue 1, 2015 - 2015 Winter Fancy Food Show

In this special edition of Sightings, we bring you highlights of the 2015 Winter Fancy Food Show. Overall, this year's exhibitors showcased products that addressed consumers' more cultivated palates, bringing to the fore sophisticated and refined food, snacks and beverages. We invite you to look at these trends to inspire and inform your future innovation, product development and packaging design in 2015 and beyond.

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Anthem’s Kathy Oneto Comments on Degree’s Unisex Ad Campaign

Posted By: SGK March 14, 2013

Unilever’s Degree deodorant launched as a unisex brand nearly a quarter century ago, and in 2005 it split into Degree Men and Degree Women, each with distinct marketing approaches. Now, for the first time, Unilever is promoting both sub-brands in a unified ad campaign. It features famous athletes “crossing over” to train in other sports – an apt metaphor for the barrier-breaking brand.

The New York Times quoted marketers who approved of the campaign’s depiction of sweating as something you can be proud to “earn” in the right situations. But Kathy Oneto, Anthem Worldwide Vice President of Brand Strategy, had additional insights when we asked her about the campaign recently:

On many levels, it's not too surprising to see Degree using the same campaign for men and women. For one, I'm sure most marketers are seeking ways to make their marketing dollars stretch further; finding a common message is one obvious way to do that.

Second, as Unilever notes, the products are made leveraging the same technology and, therefore, the same reason to believe. Finally, if a brand can also find that common motivator or goal orientation across both men and women, then it all comes together.

We've seen Unilever also do this with regard to its Dove line; the company isn't using the same campaign, but it has found synergies. They were able to leverage the Dove's differentiation in moisturizing and make that same attribute and associated benefit relevant to the male consumer. Even better, the company was also able to find a shared insight around accepting one’s true self that can be tailored to each target: for women it’s about real beauty, for men it’s about being comfortable with who they are and being comfortable in their own skin.

What marketers in other categories can learn from these executions is that there very well may be ways to cross the gender divide, which can then strengthen a brand with both genders.

We could add another consideration here: in the same household, men and women often influence each other shop for each other; so the campaign sends the message: “He should try what you use. And now it’s even easier to remember what she uses when she asks you to pick up her deodorant brand.” If perspiration now equals aspiration, it can also imply closeness and collaboration