The value of design in UK FMCG packaging development: An industry case study exploring practitioner design practice rationale & decision-making

Recognising the value design offers has been of great importance for the effective development and launch of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG). Packaging design is acknowledged as a significant success factor in New Product Development (NPD) for the FMCG industry to help provide clear product differentiation and competitive advantage in saturated and complex markets. The search for approaches to maintain or improve market share has driven the field of consumer research over the last few decades. The potential to influence consumer perception of a product through visual design is well documented in the literature. Packaging design relies on effective management of symbolic, semantic, aesthetic and visual information elements. Stakeholders have been increasingly demanding that design practitioners provide a clear rationale and accountability for their design proposals in this risk-averse industry. However, limited research has been produced to address how packaging design and development is managed; and, how design practitioners rationalise and validate their design decision-making. The authors’ look to address this through the study of design practitioners in ‘real-world’ FMCG design practice. A case study is presented with a UK company involved in the design and manufacture of food and beverage packaging for suppliers, retailers and brands in the UK FMCG market. The research aims to identify preliminary insights and a narrative into the factors affecting practitioner rationale, decision-making and explore future research. The study triangulates evidence from interviews, participant observation, direct observation and document analysis to identify influences through a convergence of findings. Nine preliminary influences are recognised that appear to affect practitioner rationale and decision-making.