Carol Wiley

How to Adapt Packaging for On-the-Go Consumers

Today’s always-plugged-in, on-the-go, busy consumers want convenient and efficient products to fit their 25/7 mindset. Finding ways to offer portable—and tasty—food is essential to meet this demand and grow business. A key part of the process for bakery manufacturers: Adapt how products are packaged. 

Packaging and product labels influence the snacking decisions of 53 percent of consumers, according to the “2017 State of the Snack Food Industry” report from Information Resources. Plus, a Nielsen study found optimized packaging can increase sales revenue more than 5 percent.

Here are some examples of how baked goods manufacturers can optimize packaging to tap into the 25/7 trend successfully.

Single-Serve Bakery Packaging

Single-serve packaging is increasingly important, as 80 percent of today’s consumers snack at least once a day, according to Bret Yonke, manager of consumer insights at Technomic. These consumers value treats that are easy to purchase, eat and dispose of, without the need for utensils or much preparation.

Some of the most popular items in what Technomic defines as the baked goods and side snacks category—donuts, bagels, muffins, soft pretzels and croissants—lend themselves well to single-serve packaging, ranging from simple paper sleeves or bags to single-serving cardboard or plastic boxes to decorative paper baking molds or tulip cups. 

This trend also comes to life in products like individually wrapped cookies from WOW Baking Company; single-serve cheesecake slices from Eli’s Cheesecake; and cupcakes and single-serve cakes in clear plastic clamshell containers sold by outlets like San Francisco-based Just Desserts and New York City’s The Protein Bakery

Then there are manufacturers like Miss Jones Baking Co. of Emeryville, California, whose Desserts-In-a-Cup are popped into the microwave for 30 to 40 seconds, providing a single-serve hot cookie, cake or brownie, without requiring consumers to remove the product from its packaging.

Single-serve packaging can also include practical accessories. For example, Cincinnati’s Whirlybird Granola recently introduced 2-ounce bowl-shaped packages that come with collapsible spoons, so consumers don’t need a utensil, separate container or dishware to enjoy the treat on the go.

25/7 trend packaging ideas

Consumers can eat directly out of Whirlybird Granola’s recently released two-ounce granola packs. 

Portable Baked Goods Packaging

Portability is key to meeting consumers’ snacking needs. Forty-four percent of people snack while traveling between activities, according to Technomic. This eating pattern is particularly common with younger generations. Roughly one-third of millennials and Generation Z say they eat on the go more often than they did two years ago, Yonke says.

For larger, shareable baked goods, grab-and-go boxes offer consumers a convenient option. Donut holes, mini muffins and other small treat assortments can fit into recloseable cartons fitted with handles, which can be especially appealing for consumers buying treats for a crowd on their way to work or home.

Other areas of innovation in portable packaging focus on making treats easy to eat in cars, where a lot of on-the-go eating happens. “This leads to a variety of packaging solutions, such as tapered packaging that fits into cup holders,” says Jeremy Keenan, vice president of strategic marketing for WestRock’s folding carton business. 

Simply packaging product in unexpected holders, like cups with domed lids or coffee cups, can also be an easy and eye-catching way to make baked goods vehicle-ready. 

For one-handed eating of items like hand pies or Danishes, pillow pack cartons—small boxes that resemble a pillow with interlocking tabs at each end—are a great option. Manufacturers can also combine bags and sleeves made from bakery tissue with paperboard trays and cartons to offer easier and cleaner eating, according to Keenan. And items like cake pops and cookies in a plastic or paper cone with built-in handles also make it easy for consumers to hold and eat while multitasking.

Recloseable Bakery Packaging

Recloseable pouches with tear-strip openings are becoming a common solution for items that either can’t or don’t need to be individually wrapped, like brownie bites or energy balls. These pouches often have zipper or press-to-close features, such as those packaging Sheila G’s Gluten Free Brownie Brittle

If limiting the amount of air that gets into the bag is important, one option is a pressure-sensitive tape closure, so the consumer can fold down the open bag and tape it closed. Another option is fold-down bags with recloseable tabs.

As consumers become increasingly busy, they’re seeking treats that fit seamlessly into their nonstop lifestyles. To keep pace with this demand, manufacturers should monitor innovations in packaging that keep their products top of mind and convenient for consumers.