Examining historical changes in food packaging towards a healthier focus in New Zealand: the case of Heinz Wattie’s, 1970-2010

Low, Joanne
Lloyd, Stephen
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Master of Business
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Auckland University of Technology

The purpose of this study is to explore the developments made to food packaging during from 1970 to 2010as a result of an increasing trend towards wellness and nutritional wellbeing. These developments are further investigated through exploring changes in verbal and design content of packaging. It is believed that these changes can influence consumer behaviour and social values. Various types of consumer buying behaviour and consumer purchase decision processes are discussed. The issue of the effect of changes in consumer perceptions of food-related health issues has influenced consumption behaviour. Marketers’ response to these changes in consumer consumption behaviour is also discussed. The use of Freud’s theory of motivation (Boeree, 2006) is adopted as a basis for generalisations about consumer motivation. Documentary data in the form of visuals and mass media outputs of the Heinz Wattie’s brand (and its sub brands) from 1950s till to today were used to review the changes anddevelopment of packaging (verbal and graphic content) in this study. These visuals and mass media outputs were obtained mainly from secondary sources, which included the Heinz Wattie’s Company. The data collected was analysed using thematic and semiotic analysis. Results of the research indicate that the focus of packaging has widened in its scope from being a functional requirement to holding important symbolic values. Packaging functions as a messenger or “silent salesman” while representing symbolic signs and texts that are deciphered into meanings by the consumer at the time of purchase. The meanings that these signs and text convey focus on the health benefits of consuming Heinz Wattie’s products. Such benefits include being free from preservatives, from artificial colourings or flavourings, from being healthy; for example a good source of vitamins, and from being recyclable. Consumers who purchased and consume Heinz Wattie’sproducts will fulfil their motivation to become healthier while maintaining a green image of being environmentally friendly. The study contributes to knowledge by identifying the historical developments in food packaging. These changes reflect the changes that have occurred in consumer behaviour and social values. This focus provides an important benchmark for marketers and researchers those points to the need for further research into product and packaging development.

Heinz , Packaging
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