Packaging today needs to do so much more than just protect the contents inside. Not only does it have to stand out on the shelf, but it also needs to encourage consumer interaction and engagement in order to maintain brand loyalty well beyond the point of purchase. On-pack and in-pack promotions are a cost-effective way for manufacturers to maximize sales and grow market share. Whether it’s a voucher that offers a discount on the next purchase or a new flavor sample in a bag of sweets, value-added premiums like inserts and labels facilitate direct interaction, deepen consumer engagement, encourage repeat purchase and provide numerous upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
On-pack technologies employ an adhesive-backed liner to affix a coupon or other promotional message to the outside of the product’s packaging. Suitable for a wide variety of marketing campaigns, on-pack labels encourage multiple purchases, drive impulse purchases, promote other products, offer rebates and even enhance the brand’s key messages. With no re-packaging required, they are also the ideal solution to revitalize the sales of a mature product or to build up excitement during a big sports event. Onserts include an array of items, such as labels, coupons, booklets or bottle neck hangers, to name just a few. Coupons and instant redeemable coupons (IRC) are particularly popular. In fact, 43 percent of brand loyal shoppers who usually purchase products regardless of their price, say they feel better about companies that offer coupons than those that do not. Buy one get one free coupons, discounts and instant wins also help move products off the shelf quickly. While on-pack promotions that encourage consumers to register their details online for a chance to win a prize ensure further engagement and ongoing interaction even after the purchase has been completed.
“Buy one get one free coupons, discounts and instant wins also help move products off the shelf quickly”
From scratch cards and collectables to dry or liquid-filled sachet to toys, utensils and product samples, in-pack promotions comprise a multitude of two or three-dimensional items and offer manufacturers a great opportunity to encourage repeat purchase over a limited period of time. For example, collectible cards, figurines or game pieces may encourage fans to purchase and repurchase the product simply for the fun of collecting the items. Including edible food inserts into primary packaging is also as a great way to introduce new products and cross-promote other products in the range. For example, by inserting liquid-filled sachets such as BBQ sauces, salsa or guacamole into bags of potato chips, producers effectively introduce consumers to complimentary products. These types of promotions also help meet the increasing demand for greater convenience. The inclusions of a small pouch of salad dressing, croutons and grated cheese, for example, quickly turn any bag of pre-cut lettuce into a ready-to-eat meal. While an additional sachet of spicy seasoning in a bag of chips provides a quick flavor boost for the more adventurous consumer, offering the ultimate in convenience and flexibility.
Key considerations for success
Once a manual and labor-intensive process, today’s manufacturers have multiple automated inserting and labelling solutions available to them that are easily incorporated into their production line at a low cost and without any impact on the overall production line speed. Amongst some of the most advanced technologies are high-speed label applicators that dispense up to 76 meters per minute and fully automated perforated bandolier feeders that insert up to 1000 pieces per minute. Thanks to these rapid advancements in packaging technology, it’s never been easier to innovate through promotional in-pack or on-pack campaigns. The following considerations will help manufacturers update their packaging processes efficiently and affordably, while ensuring that each of their products meets the highest quality standards when it leaves the plant.
Type of promotion
There are a number of questions to ask before deciding on in-pack and/or on-pack promotional campaigns. For example: What is the size of the insert or label? Will it be a 2D or 3D item? Are there any special requirements for this to fit on/in existing product packaging? For inserts, it’s vital that the promotional item can be added without affecting the product’s integrity. For example, dispensing a 3D toy into a bag of potato chips may result in product breakage. Plant managers will therefore need to explore the different options and find a solution that minimizes breakage of fragile products. Programming the inserter so that the promotional item is dispensed just before the product enters the bag is one way to achieve this. Dispensing frequency is an additional consideration, ie. how often does the promotion need to be inserted or applied? Some manufacturers might only want to include an item or add a label to every fifth bag to create excitement and provide consumers with an impression of exclusivity. By implementing an inserter or labeler with an effective controls system, plant managers can easily manage the dispensing frequency according to the type of promotional campaign they intend to run.
“For inserts, it’s vital that the promotional item can be added without affecting the product’s integrity.”
When it comes to promotional inserts, film selection is an additional consideration. Film strength, for instance, is a primary concern, since the perforation between each piece must be ideal to maximize the performance of the inserter. Likewise, if the film is too weak it might burst allowing the insert to come into contact with the product. This can be particularly problematic with liquid-filled sachets, which can compromise the quality of the end product. To minimize these challenges, leading suppliers provide comprehensive evaluations of film type, so the over-wrapper can meet optimal burst strengths and prevent leakage of food products into/out of the insert.
There is a wide array of packaging systems for manufacturers to choose from depending on the product being packaged, from horizontal and vertical form fill and seal systems to cartoners and flow wrappers. The type of packaging system implemented by the manufacturer will determine the type of inserting or labelling technology that is used alongside it. For instance, different types of labelers such as roll-on, wipe-on, air tamp or blow-on are adopted depending on the type of packaging system, application rate, product profile and material to which it is applied. Meanwhile, the most advanced inserting technology allows manufacturers to insert any size or shape premium into just about any type of packaging using a single piece of equipment.
System speed is a key consideration for the majority of today’s plant managers. With some packaging equipment reaching speeds up to 250 bags per minute, inserting and labelling technology must also perform effectively at these high speeds to achieve maximum productivity. When new equipment is added to a production line, it’s therefore imperative to ensure seamless integration. The installation of a controls system will guarantee individual pieces of equipment work together in harmony for optimum process efficiency. Deciding where to integrate the inserting and labelling equipment is equally important to ensure minimum downtime and maximum product throughput. For example, VFFS systems offer numerous points at which the inserter can be installed, including at the scale or the former. While both options integrate with the flow of production for optimum product transfer, integration at the scale can pose significant drawbacks. For instance, premiums can become jammed in the scale mechanisms, meaning manual intervention is often required to correct the problem. At the former however, the insert is much closer to the product, reducing the risk of breakages and encouraging a more seamless insertion of the added-value item. Purchasing a full turnkey packaging system that already incorporates the labeler and inserter will further help ensure smooth and efficient operations.
“Awareness of regional safety laws and regulations is key for commercial success when exporting goods abroad.”
Health and safety regulations
There are several hygienic requirements when incorporating both edible and non-edible content into packaged food to maintain product safety. Once a manufacturer decides to promote a product with in-pack and on-pack promotions, there is a very important choice to be made: how to produce the premiums and assure compliance with strict regulations regarding direct food contact? Awareness of regional safety laws and regulations is key for commercial success when exporting goods abroad. In Europe for instance, the CE marking is required for many products sold in the EU. In the United States, the use of promotional inserts is subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines, which include stringent legislation concerning printing materials and what types of substances (inks, varnishes, and other coatings) may or may not come into contact with food. It’s therefore vital manufacturers have a thorough knowledge of the food product, packaging conditions and end-use requirements to which the insert is subjected, before incorporating it into their products. A method commonly used for protecting inserts is plastic over wrapping. These barriers are often required to resist both abrasion (from the product) and bleed (from printed inserts) when added to wet or oily foods. However, in accordance with global regulations they must be derived from food-grade plastics for safety assurance. For edible inserts, there are additional safety considerations. Sachets or dips for example might have a different expiry date to the product in which they are inserted. This means they will require a separate label to the main product, to inform consumers.
Promotional inserts and onserts are an easy and cost-effective way to add considerable value to any product. By exceeding consumer expectations for convenience, value and flexibility, these solutions encourage repeat purchase, facilitate cross-promotions, enhance brand visibility and loyalty, and ultimately, drive sales. By partnering with an inserting and labelling specialist, manufacturers gain access to a wide range of flexible solutions and the expertise they need to ensure their next promotional campaign is a success on every level.
Group Product Manager
Inserters & Labellers