How Top Brands Strategically Adjust Packaging to Meet Consumer Needs

With the FDA’s Nutrition Facts compliance date fast approaching, how far along are brands in their planning? The updated values and information on the new nutritional label, intended to make it easier for the consumer to make healthier and better informed choices, will likely drive a range of packaging changes to remain desirable to the consumer. By reacting quickly and embracing the new labeling proactively, brands could increase consumers’ trust — especially when it reinforces a positive message.

Accordingly, if a product under the new label regulation is perceived as being less healthy, due to the new required call-out of added sugars, then the reformulation, resizing, rebranding, repackaging or removal of a product becomes a potential consideration for brands.

As state and local governments consider or plan tax hikes on soft drinks and fruit juices over the next decade, PepsiCo has already responded by ramping up their efforts to cut added sugars in their beverages. The company plans to address the issue by rolling out two-thirds of their beverage volume with no more than 100 calories from added sugars per 12-ounce serving by 2025. This appears to be a strategic brand and packaging initiative on their part — a good example of proactive product management in the context of changing consumer desires.

But this isn’t a new push to address consumer concerns head-on; according to the AdAge article cited above, PepsiCo, along with Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group pledged in 2014 (way back when the FDA Nutrition Facts update was first announced) that they would cut the calories consumed from beverages 20% over the next decade by introducing smaller portion sizes and lower-calorie options.

Keep in mind a couple very important updates to the Nutrition Facts label: calories will be displayed much more prominently and serving-sizes may change and be more prominent as well.

“The new and revised nutritional information required by the FDA that appears in the nutrition panel could potentially impact the brand identity and positioning, and therefore the graphic design and visual representation of a brand,” says Michael Leeds, SVP of Client Engagement, Americas at SGK.

WATCH: Off the Starting Block: Making the Most of New FDA Label Regulations  

The FDA label change is meant to help consumers make more informed choices. As a result, there will be new claims to drive preference. As these get designed in, they could impact more than just a call-out on pack.

For example, consider a brand that is graphically depicted by a natural color pallete that features grains and whole wheat, and positioned as “an excellent source of fiber”. Under the FDA’s new definition of dietary fiber the product may no longer meet the new requirements to make the “excellent source of fiber” claim. Cereals, breakfast bars, baked goods and rice products are just some categories that may be impacted by the new definition of dietary fiber in this way.

While some brands, as mentioned above, have been actively preparing for the update for several years, some brands have been waiting for the Final Rule to strategize exactly how they plan to take advantage of the change.

The original Nutrition Labeling Education Act saw a lot of late adaptation; EU1169 in Europe had a broader timing-distribution of companies coming into compliance. Most recently, with Vermont’s GMO legislation, we also saw a broad range from early adapters that wanted to provide their consumers transparency into their products to last minute finishers that were looking for preemptive legislation from the Federal Government.

“Some of our clients, owning the most recognized and valued brands in the world have been scenario planning since the proposed rules were announced in 2014. Other clients, also afforded the same reputation were waiting to see the Final Rule before diving deep into the changes and did minimal planning,” says Leeds.

READ: The FDA Nutrition Label Update Is Your Opportunity to Gain a Competitive Brand Advantage  

SGK provides a framework for using the proposed changes as a catalyst for brands to seize a competitive advantage in their respective food, beverage or nutritional supplement categories. Additionally, we have resources and technology ready to help clients create new designs, structures and content, manage these additional projects, review the changes, route for approval and send to their printers.

To assess your preparedness, get resources and talk to our brand and label experts, visit Label Central.