The Tetra Pak 2017 Index, produced by Tetra Pak, Vernon Hills, Ill., focuses on Super Leaders, a newly-defined digital community of early adopters and brand amplifiers, and reveals how brands can focus their digital strategies on engaging this new generation of influencers.

The report shows that third-party, user-generated content is becoming increasingly important, often more powerful than direct communications from brands. Super Leaders represent just 7% of the online population. More than half (57%) of them write brand and/or product reviews every week, and nearly two-thirds (65%) say they are more likely to do so after a positive experience. In addition, more than three-quarters (78%) expect brands to reply to their reviews and ratings, saying that interacting with brands on social media improves their opinion of that brand (79%).

Consumers today search for product information before, during and after buying. They refer to at least four information sources pre-purchase, many of which are beyond the control of brands.

“Using new ways to reach connected consumers is especially important when you think of Generation Z,” says Alexandre Carvalho, director marketing services. “They have been brought up in a digital-first world, and expect brands to communicate on their channels of choice. The age of passive, one-way communication is over. Brands need to adjust their communications and create more channel-specific, authentic and engaging content.”

In addition, the report demonstrates that packaging plays an important role in consumer engagement. For example, digital codes printed on packages can improve traceability, allowing consumers to access information about the product right down to the source. The package can also be transformed into a conduit for two-way communication where brands can capture specific, valuable data about their consumers as well as share more information about the product itself. The report includes case studies from food and beverage brands who engage Super Leaders and reach wider audiences.

“The digital package gives brand owners a direct link to the consumer through an important communication channel – the product itself,” Carvalho adds. “To make the most of this fully owned channel, Tetra Pak is piloting the use of augmented reality and other digital technology in our packaging to help our customers stay ahead.”