Boosting pet food brands
with design thinking
Trends in the pet care industry mirror those of consumer product goods in numerous segments, and pet food packaging is no exception. The humanisation of pets is radically shifting innovation. To design successful pet food packaging today, producers have to know the likes and dislikes of end-consumers.
Increasingly, pet food brands are collaborating with leading packaging designers to get ahead of the competition and add value for heightened consumer experiences. Collaboration is essential in gaining these insights, as is mapping user journeys to create new products that will thrive in a rapidly changing marketplace.
Design thinking approaches help generate new breeds of innovative and sustainable pet food packaging solutions. This customer-centric approach for innovation evaluates end-consumer and channel needs, understands the customer journey, and then develops prototypes for trial and feedback.
At Mondi, the approach often begins with a core team of packaging experts and product managers and may include consumers, sales departments, production plants and even multinational recycling firms. Using a design thinking approach, they synthesise consumer feedback and market data to formulate areas of opportunity for the pet food brand.
Keep reading to see how brands are getting ahead of market trends while reaching sustainability targets with collaborative development and design thinking in partnership with Mondi.
EXPLORATION AND ANALYSIS
Once the core team collects current market knowledge and research data they come together to group key findings. Target groups are defined and invited to write daily journals and give in-depth interviews which provide more detailed information on shopping behaviour, pet communities, feeding habits, recycling knowledge, relationships with pets, and views on pet food packaging and other topics. From this information, the underlying needs of the user are discovered.
Since buying pet food is not an occasional task, but a regular one integrated into daily life; it is essential to understand consumer behaviour over an extended period of time through their journals. Fully understanding the customer journey includes consumers’ purchasing habits, transport and delivery hurdles, the unboxing experience, how the food is used and stored, packaging disposal, and considerations for re-purchase.
Mondi’s most recent design thinking project for pet food packaging followed 20 consumers in both urban and suburban areas of the United States and Germany. After 114 hours of field interviews and transcribing data, around 1,100 insightful moments were shared with the core team to synthesize the research and create six ideation themes for each market and derive clear development opportunities for pet food brands.
To design and prototype the next generation’s innovative and sustainable packaging solutions for both dry and wet pet food, opportunities were identified in the user journeys and research data. Ideation themes helped structure customer feedback and allowed the group to discuss and sketch packaging concepts on idea boards. Based on the interest of the respondents, the group defined seven areas where they identified new opportunities to innovate in packaging
For example, key insights for the dry pet food domain included the reliability of closing features – often, consumers require extra clips or utensils to keep the dry food bags closed. Since dry pet food often gets refilled into containers or bins to save space in living areas, or to ensure freshness, alternative storage possibilities were considered. Other packaging features that enticed consumers include easier portion control and protection during shipping.
Designers then transformed the idea boards into packaging designs addressing the identified pain points to enhance consumer experience. The concepts were prioritised by the core team, keeping in mind production capabilities.
THE ROADMAP TO MARKET
After the creative synthesis phase, a roadmap was developed to showcase the multiple packaging possibilities per opportunity area. Every concept showed the interaction of the user with the product from the point of purchase, unboxing, use, storage to disposal. Mock-ups of the packaging designs were also produced so the features could be visualised
As the project entered the final phase, the same group of end-users were invited to test out the mock-ups and give further insights for continual improvements.