Packaging / Tactics / Product Development
Thinking Inside the Box

The Package!

No, it’s not a column about a wannabe New York City Mayor.

It’s about design. And styles of packaging. And the vast resources needed to develop a single piece of packaging, not to mention a whole brand, or platform, or program.

I am currently judging packaging design for a large submission of new and exciting international store brand programs. I am stunned by the breadth and extent of where companies are going. Which makes me wonder what everyone else is doing. I visit stores all the time and often see evidence of major overhaul, which sometimes means out-of-stocks (the blame game comes to mind instantly). I often see dramatic changes in single longstanding items and wonder at the thought processes that take place in the creative corridors. Is this a one-off that someone powerful wanted to try out a new designer? Is it part of a #trend that will emerge elsewhere?

Please folks, take some time to rethink your packaging program. Look at the competition, look at trade shows, and see what is out there and rank your own programs in comparison. Is there room for improvement? Is your own brand-management team on top of this? Are they charged with keeping your brands top-of-mind with your customer base? And what kind of horsepower do you have in your system? Enterprise? Excel?

The three legs on this are cost, process, and creativity. Nothing else matters. A complete review of costs involved, and whether or not your suppliers are being fairly charged (assuming they are paying), or whether the costs internally are going to the right place (cost of goods), is necessary. We cannot afford Mona Lisa on the package, but we also shouldn’t be putting clip art, either.

The systems and processes by which we manage the myriad of moving parts in the flow of data necessary to produce a package can be debilitating for anyone who does not have a really robust management tool in place. When did you last take a serious hard look at a product lifestyle management (PLM) option? Every single person and piece of data needs to be exposed in real time if we are to be cost-effective and super-efficient in managing this.

Finally, creativity. Is the team responsible for brand management of your portfolio sufficiently empowered? They are the ultimate custodians of your intellectual property. Is the value placed on them commensurate with the value you are trying to build in your program?

The proof is in the pudding. Take a look around you. Do you stack up? Did you lose sales through out-of-stocks during redesign? Have you had recalls due to incorrect data, text, or translation? If there is any room for improvement, spend some time on this—before the next mayoral election in New York City!

 Till next time! 

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