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Product and Packaging Innovation

Innovation Through Product Development

Today’s consumer demands mean that brand owners must constantly innovate their products, even to stand still in the marketplace. By taking the product or pack as the artefact, this theme aims to identify, develop and interpret new research-led ideas that can inspire, enhance or accelerate new product development. Through our research, we investigate the product and pack interactions with supply chain, consumer and point of sale to develop research questions that can enhance the experience of buying and using a product in the following areas:

Sensory Product Interactions

Our work aims to understand what senses are used when making purchase decisions and how these can be enhanced to improve the product experience. We are particularly interested in how the sensory inputs interact and what impact this has upon the different stages of the customer journey. Much of our work is based around understanding the tactile stimuli and whether other senses moderate or support these interactions. We also look at how sensory experiences can be developed through technological means and how a digital interface can change the delivery of these sensory experiences.

Innovations Using New Technologies

Throughout the supply chain, there are many new technologies that are becoming available to enhance products. Often, these are for purely functional reasons such as tracking through RFID tags or improved shelf-life through new materials. In this case, the return on investment is clear and can be quantified. However, other new technologies applied to products deliver more hedonic benefits, such as a tactile finish or an interactive label. The economic benefit of these is harder to define and can often only be articulated in terms of consumer delight. The research here tries to better understand the link between hedonic appeal, and financial return.


The issue of plastic pollution in our oceans appeals to the very heart of consumers who now question whether everyday packaging product should be eliminated or replaced with environmentally friendlier solutions. With the concept of Circular Economy high on the EU and national agenda, the industry faces a challenge in how to respond to this demand, without compromising on functionality that the current packaging delivers. The challenge that presents itself to our society is complex - with plenty of misconceptions in the public domain that if acted upon without considerations, can potentially have devastating effect on our environment and food supply chain. The Retail Institute is looking at how we can help inform future strategies of companies who wish to undertake the journey to more sustainable products and operations.

The Retail Institute's expertise in packaging and their professional and creative approach to research has had a positive impact on our innovation process.

Sharon Crayton - Ardagh Group