It was during the Industrial Revolution that chocolate and candy makers began coming up with new recipes with the aim of making chocolate a mass consumption item.
Packaging in the chocolate industry was introduced in the late 1890s and there has been no looking back ever since then.
It was packaging that helped chocolate reach the masses. According to Walter Soroka, “packaging is the science, art, and technology of enclosing or protecting products for distribution, storage, sale, and use.”
However, a detailed study of the role of packaging in the chocolate industry clearly shows that packaging is not just about protecting the product but also about marketing, communication, and branding.
Protecting the Product
The packaging was introduced in the chocolate industry with the sole aim of protecting the product from heat, moisture, microbes, human tampering, and other contaminants.
Many of the ingredients used in the manufacturing of chocolate get spoiled easily when left exposed to heat and moisture.
Manufacturers of chocolate during the time of the Industrial Revolution realized that in order to make chocolate a mass consumption item, they would have to do something about its shelf life.
Remember that prior to the Industrial Revolution, chocolates and candies were very expensive and were mostly consumed by the elites.
The introduction of packaging ensured that chocolate was protected from heat, moisture, and contaminants and this allowed vendors to safely supply their products from the manufacturing units to retail shops all over the country and then later on the world.
If in the late 1890s Hershey’s was able to make chocolate reach the masses, it was primarily due to packaging.
With so many vendors selling chocolates, how would the consumer differentiate one brand from another?
It was packaging that transformed chocolates from a uniform product into a branded product. As new and new brands came into the retail market, packaging again played a crucial role in helping consumers differentiate one brand from another.
Chocolate packaging consists of multilayers. The first layer is that of a thin aluminum foil. The chocolate bar is then wrapped in a second layer consisting of a thin film of paper. The third layer either consists of a plastic wrapper or a box.
The third layer is used by vendors to build their brand. Different types of packaging and designs are used by vendors to set their brands apart from other chocolate brands.
Remember that it is due to packaging that a consumer is able to differentiate between a Hershey’s bar and KitKat bar. Ferrero rocher chocolate brand has recognized the world over for its golden cover packaging.
Enhances a Brand
Packaging not only helps create a brand but also helps in enhancing the brand amongst consumers. When a consumer looks at a chocolate packaging, it generates certain emotions.
The text, information, and imagery on the packaging create a certain perception about that product in the minds of consumers.
If the emotion generated is positive and the product delivered is good, then it helps improve brand recognition and enhances the recognition of a brand that is already established.
Help Vendors Cater to Different Markets
Consumers can tell by looking at the packaging only whether the chocolate is expensive or affordable. This is because the packaging of expensive chocolate is very different from that of affordable chocolate.
Moreover, when a chocolate manufacturer wants to introduce an exclusive brand of chocolate or wants to transform a particular range of chocolates into an exclusive brand, all they have to do is change the packaging.
This is what Kraft Foods did when they transformed their Aladdin Gold chocolate range into an exclusive brand. The Aladdin Gold range is packed in a golden colored box and the packaging makes it very clear that it is a premium product.
Many chocolate brands have come up with chocolates that cater to a particular age or sex. For example, take a look at the egg-shaped box packaging of Kinder Joy Chocolates.
One look at the packaging and you know that this particular chocolate is meant for kids. If you pay close attention, you will realize that the blue ones are meant for boys and pink ones are meant for girls.
A consumer does not have to read what is written on the packaging to find out whether the chocolate is for an adult or child. A consumer is able to infer this by just looking at the packaging.
Packaging as the Silent Salesman
It was James Pilditch in 1961 who first referred to as packaging as the silent salesman. Chocolate packaging has become one of the most important marketing tools used by chocolate manufacturers.
In fact, its role has become so crucial to the success of a product that packaging is today referred to as the fifth ‘P’ of marketing strategy.
Once a vendor manufactures a new range of chocolate, he/she will spend a lot of time and effort on branding, advertising, marketing, and sales in order to get the consumers to the retail shops to purchase their brands.
However, once a consumer is in a retail shop and looking at various chocolate brands, it is the packaging that will convey the vendor’s message to the consumer. Very often consumers buy chocolates based on the packaging.
Many people believe that if the packaging is good, the product will be good also. This is especially true amongst rural consumers.
Helps Increase Sales
Vendors often repackage their chocolate range to help drive sales. When Cadbury repackaged its Dairy Milk and 5 Star chocolate ranges into Cadbury Celebrations packaging, it created a new gift item and this helped improve the sales of both Dairy Milk and 5 Star chocolates.
When the sales of a particular chocolate range are not doing well, marketers often re-introduce the product using new packaging to help drive up the sale.
Vendors use packaging to provide nutritional and ingredient information to the consumers. If you want to know how many calories particular chocolate has, just read the packaging.
If a particular chocolate vendor is running some contest or supporting some social cause, the information is provided on the packaging for the consumers.
In the coming years, as the consumers’ demands evolve, the role of packaging will evolve to address the concerns of the consumers.
Recent trends show that chocolate packaging will become environmentally sustainable and innovative.
Whatever role packaging will play in the future, one thing is certain- in the past, it played a crucial role in the success story of the chocolate industry and it will do so in the future also.