As part of its new Open Up to Cans campaign, the Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) commissioned research that focuses on the performance benefits of aluminum beverage cans in four key areas: product taste and integrity, innovation, performance and sustainability. The research includes three unique components to understand the role that beverage containers play throughout the consumer experience, from the point-of-purchase to consumption.
We sat down with Grant Prentice, director of strategic insights at FoodMinds, LLC, who led the research program to discuss the results:
Packaging Strategies: What were the key findings of the research program?
Grant Prentice: The aluminum beverage can is a versatile package that contributes positively to the consumer taste and sensory experience and supports beverage marketing innovation. Cans are also a high performance package that facilitate consumption across a wide range of consumer drinking needs and are recognized by many consumers as the infinitely recyclable package.
PS: What role does the container/packaging material play in the consumer experience?
Prentice: The package plays a starring role during the consumer’s beverage consumption experience — from purchase decision, to storage and cooling, and consumption and recycling. Consumer purchase is motivated by innovative and colorful designs, and the interaction with a package affects the drinking experience. Today’s consumers — particularly Millennial and Gen-Z — are also more likely to be affected by a package’s recyclability.
PS: Craft beer and energy drinks have seen significant growth in the beverage industry. What role does the can play in these segments?
Prentice: Cans play an interesting and important role in both of these segments. Craft beer fans — both the brewers and the drinkers — know that sealing a craft brew in a can protects the complex flavors and aromatics that define this beer segment.
Energy drink consumers also have an interesting relationship with their favorite beverage — they tend to think of this beverage as “transformational fuel.” The predominance of canned packaging in this segment, with its rigid structure and metallic colors, reinforces this perception of a powerful source of motivating energy.
PS: What is the impact of package design on the consumer experience?
Prentice: Package design directly transmits visual, tactile and auditory cues that contribute positively to the consumer drinking experience. Cans are visually striking because they offer a 360 degree canvas wrapped in colors and brand graphics, they feel cold and smooth — attributes that complement the “mouth and throat feel” of the beverage, and they “crack” when opened, which releases an aromatic preamble to the actual tasting experience.
The full findings of the CMI research report can be found at smartcansolutions.com. The website is an educational resource for beverage packaging professionals to learn more about the benefits of the aluminum beverage can.
Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) is the national trade association of the metal can manufacturing industry and its suppliers in the United States. The can industry accounts for the annual domestic production of approximately 124 billion food, beverage and other metal cans; which employs more than 28,000 people with plants in 33 states, Puerto Rico and American Samoa; and generates about $17.8 billion in direct economic activity. Its members are committed to providing safe, nutritious and refreshing canned food and beverages to consumers.
Grant Prentice is director of strategic insights with FoodMinds (foodminds.com), a food and nutrition consulting company. He specializes in strategic marketing and market research with extensive experience building issue-based marketing campaigns.