Bold and Beautiful

Advance Brands, Oklahoma City, Okla., goes for the eyes with innovation packaging. Bridget Little, company marketing manager, shares the story with The National Provisioner.

NP: How do you use packaging to differentiate your brands? How did you develop your packaging?

BL: When you walk down the freezer case, you need to make sure the package jumps out at the consumer. Color is a way to achieve that. We use bright [colors of ] red and blue and photographs that are extremely clean. In the photos we show what to serve with our products to give consumers meal ideas. The sides are visible throughout the package, so a consumer can pick it up and say, ‘Oh gosh, I need to pick up some red potatoes and cole slaw.’ We heard in focus groups that consumers liked what we were doing. Our package was picked most often, and the reason was because we offered meal ideas.
Lots of packaging looks the same, but we believe the product name is the biggest thing on the package. We stand out from the competition with bold colors and great photography. We went with rotogravure because it makes a more consistent print and makes it pop.
NP: What were the challenges in selecting the chosen packaging? How did you resolve those challenges?
BL: We print a rotogravure to ensure the same color every time we print. And we look for what’s coming next in Europe or Canada in packaging. There’s the challenge   bringing that locally.
NP: What did you hope to accomplish in selecting specific packaging?
BL: We’re exploring using a tray that helps food stay crisp in the microwave. Our frozen products are sealed in bags and closed with a resealable zipper. We don’t put our products in a box because most consumers don’t have much space in their freezer. They’d rather have a bag they can squish down and not lose the heating instructions. We’re finding that the freezer is the new pantry. Packaging has got to be resealable so there’s no freezer burn, because if consumers don’t use the entire package at one time, they’ve got to know they can put it away. We’re also considering including an area on-package where consumers can write in the date they last used the product.
NP: How does your packaging stand up concerning consumer appeal?
BL: Our packaging has appeal because we use bright and colorful packaging that pops out of the case and draws you over. All processors want the billboard effect and a meal idea, and we have that. People so often may not remember the brand, but they remember what the bag looks like, and we color-code our bags.
NP: How does your packaging address such concerns as freshness, food safety, ease of opening, convenience and other issues?
BL: For the past two years, we’ve used modified-atmosphere packaging (MAP) for the fresh case, which consists of a tray and a cardboard sleeve, for chicken nuggets and strips. We’ve had an excellent response to our MAP packaging. We still do a huge tray-pack business. With many customers, shelf life is paramount because of shrinks. Using MAP packaging attracts a different customer who might not buy fresh. It used to be that consumers wanted a package that looked like it came straight from the butcher, but now many more prefer packaging that looks like it came from a manufacturer. We recently added 24-ounce buffalo wings and 24-ounce beef meatballs to our MAP packaging. NP