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The largest packaging and processing innovation event in North America kicks off Sunday in Chicago, when Pack Expo International 2012 opens its doors.
The event runs from Sunday through Oct. 31, and more than 1,800 exhibitors are scheduled to occupy space at McCormick Place. To get ready, PLBuyer talked to Julie Ackerman, the senior director of communications and public relations for PMMI, about some private label highlights of the show.
PLBuyer: What is catching the attention of exhibitors and retailers among private label products today?
Ackerman:Differentiation on the store shelf is absolutely critical. We’re seeing a much greater variety of products in the aisles, due in no small part to the expansion of private label offerings. Creating an eye-catching and functional package is essential for private label brands to ensure that their products successfully compete with national brands, so the search for the next big innovation continues.
Sleeves are a popular way to create differentiation in the marketplace, which is why Moët et Chandon, a subsidiary of the LVMH Group, partnered with Sleever International (France; Booth #3325) to produce a radical, attention-grabbing package for its new creation, Ice Imperial — a champagne served over ice. Using a high-technology shrink film called SilkSleever; the company designed a uniquely colored and textured sleeve.
Though this isn’t an example of a private label application, it calls attention to the role that material innovation plays in helping brands ensure their products stand out. As more retailers look to offer premium-branded products, these types of technologies will continue to appear on store shelves.
PLBuyer:What can retailers learn from walking the show floor to improve their private brands?
Ackerman:Private label brands can benefit from a wealth of resources available to them directly on the show floor. One of the advantages of attending a show like PACK EXPO is that you have a broad range of solutions showcased in a single place.
When a private label brand manager is considering the launch of a product line in a new market, such as cosmetics, baking and snack products or beverages, they can find the innovation they need, discover what has been successful in other product categories and go home and apply those findings to their own business.
But PACK EXPO also helps attendees think outside the box, so to speak, by inspiring them about what could be on store shelves tomorrow. Material ConneXion, located in the Showcase of Packaging Innovations within The Brand Zone, will demonstrate materials from its database of over 6,500 advanced and sustainable materials. Some of these materials may not currently be used in packaging applications – but provide unique cross-over opportunities.
This year, we’ve also partnered with Mintel to deliver a range of compelling consumer insights that can help retailers make smarter packaging decisions. Presentations will take place in a special theater inside Mintel's Consumer Insights and Global Packaging Showcase (N-6214) in The Brand Zone.
Additionally, the Conference at PACK EXPO will provide educational programming to address branding and sustainability challenges applicable to both national brands and private label decision makers.
PLBuyer:Is there more emphasis at the show on private label today than there might have been four or five years ago, before the recession fully took hold?
Ackerman:The growth of private label offerings has been a factor in driving the growth of branding and design-focused resources at PACK EXPO. Brand managers – whether they work for retailers or national brands – are working towards similar goals: to accurately position their products to their target audiences and increase sales at the point of purchase.
The rise of private label brands over the past few years demonstrates that consumers are seeing their products as serious competitors with nationals, with perceptions of store brands shifting from “generic” to high-quality. For most retailers, this shift couldn’t happen without a packaging makeover.
We are also seeing the impact of private label brand growth and the expansion of their offerings onthe contract manufacturers that work with them and the technologies they use. Because retailers are diversifying their products with new flavors, categories and regionally specific offerings, contract manufacturers and packagers must be able to handle shorter runs of different packaging. This need is a key driver of digital package printing innovation and other flexible innovations that attendees will see on the floor of PACK EXPO.
PLBuyer:How can platforms like The Brand Zone, or Mintel’s Consumer Insights and Global Packaging Showcase , help retailers and suppliers learn about the packaging trends of tomorrow?
Ackerman:Visitors to Mintel's Consumer Insights and Global Packaging Showcase won’t just have access to thought-provoking data. They’ll also be inspired by Mintel’s gallery of innovative package designs from around the world, sourced from Mintel’s Global New Product Database, which is updated with over 20,000 new product launches every month from 48 of the world’s major economies. These are the innovative packages that are on the market now in other parts of the world and could very well be the trending in other areas in the future.
For more information about PACK EXPO International 2012, visit www.packexpo.com. Registration is $60 and badges will be available for pick up on site. Conference sessions are $125 a person.