Chopping boards, crockery or electric pasta cooker – the equipment in a professional kitchen needs to be pretty hardy but also easy to clean. After all, items see a great deal of use yet need to last a long time. And when they need replacing, the countless products in the shop present an agony of choice. Deciding for or against an item depends on a range of factors. Packaging plays a key role.
There are giftboxes, shelf ready trays, window boxes, banderoles and so much more. They must be as sturdy as possible and fit well on a pallet or in a transport crate. And apart from these intrinsic values, packaging has a further function that’s just as important: they have to make you want to buy the product inside.
The silent salesman
‘We have very little space to tell a big story that pulls the onlooker in. And this could be a customer in any METRO country,’ explains Monica Cheung from Own Brand Management at METRO Sourcing International. She works in Hong Kong and leads a team of 6 packaging specialists taking care of Non-Food Own Brand artworks like METRO Professional, Tarrington House, Sigma and ARO. The product assortment consists of around 6,000 articles: gastro catering equipment, kitchenware, cleaning & storage products, office furniture and seasonal items like professional barbecues, garden furniture or Christmas decorations.
Packaging is to “talk” to the customer. It is an important member of the sales team. Standing right next to the competition, the silent salesman steps into action. It speaks for the product and customers make psychological connections. Is it the brand they trust? Do they like the appearance of the product? What properties does it have, and do they meet the customer’s requirements? Does the pasta cooker heat up quickly and is it easy to clean? Does it have a filter for drain system to avoid blockage from pasta? ‘In the online shop, clear and informative photos and descriptions must answer these questions.’
Own Brand Design Manuals set the parameters
Each METRO brand has a typical design, with layout rules detailed in design manuals. ‘The most complex design is definitely METRO Professional’ Monica says. It is the brand for professional grade products. This high standard is reflected by the packaging design: The quality seal communicates heritage, expertise and emphasizes the professional product quality. The expanded logo that reaches over the top to the rear of the packaging says it all: METRO takes special care over all products sold under the METRO brand name.’ The packaging design depends on shape and size of the pack. Starting point is to find out the Metro Professional logo size. Accordingly, other core brand elements (like headlines, product USPs, technical pictos, photo, etc.) will be fixed. Apart from this, there are specific colour coding for product differentiation within the range.
Monica and her team work on a complete product series, such as a new range of professional frying pans made of different materials and featuring different properties. In 2016, an enormous project came her way: Migration of METRO Professional and ARO ranges. Within 2 years, her team had worked out new packaging for 1,000 articles, constantly coordinating with the international offer team and the own brand team in Duesseldorf as well as sourcing colleagues, suppliers and design agencies.
Packaging is to “talk” to the customer. It is an important member of the sales team. Standing right next to the competition, the silent salesman steps into action.Monica Cheung, Own Brand Management at METRO Sourcing International
Packaging as real eye-catcher
To tell a story - all within a generally small space is not easy. After all, the same packaging in 19 languages is used for 23 METRO/MAKRO countries. Clear brand communication, clear product features, good product pictures and shelf presentation/range consistency are essential. The balancing act is to accommodate all legally required information and symbols for all countries as well. ’To facilitate more information for customers, we have some add-on like QR code inviting customers to scan and find out more like product videos and operation instructions.’
To show the company’s commitment to environment, the products have a series of sustainable packaging icons to visualize our contribution. ‘Besides, we are preparing a new eco look of Christmas ball collection under Tarrington House. Customers can see them in our stores at the end of the year.’ Overall, regarding packaging sustainability, already at the stage of product sourcing, Monica and her team look for opportunities to live a “save the planet” mindset, i.e. ban PVC/EPS, FSC/PEFC certified paper or 70% recycled content, reduce Plastic and execute on packaging.
What else must packaging do?
1. Packaging in the European Union must conform to Directive 94/62/EC. It should minimise waste and promote recycling to protect the environment.
2. It must not contain materials like heavy metals that pollute the environment or are harmful to health.
3. Alongside the local language, the packaging must contain the information legally prescribed in all countries.
4. There are also specific safety warnings, technical symbols like WEEE, GS, CE, IP44, Food Contact Safe and recycling symbols from Grüner Punkt, PAP or Tidyman.