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Elements of Successful Packaging: Partnerships

The time to consider packaging is the time when you are conceiving of the new product or line extension itself. There are many considerations involved, including, of course, overall costs, which to a degree needs to be passed onto the consumer. Packaging, Angela Roggenhofer, sales and marketing manager for Tekni-Plex Inc., asserted, should be considered as early in the process as is feasible.

Further and overall, she advised, know your product, and know your consumer. "What is the products target customers age groups and activity levels? Are there children in the typical target consumer household? Certain customers are also less likely to read all the small print on storage conditions and, in many cases, it makes sense to adapt the packaging not only to the product under optimized conditions, but consider the reality in which the product will exist and, ultimately, be used."

According to Ralf Klotz, regional sales manager for Uhlmann Packaging Systems, three questions are key: is it a standalone formula or part of a regimen? What quantities per package will be provided (one-month supply, 1,000 count, etc.)?; and what special considerations need to be worked out, such as expiration date?

More questions were supplied by Wes Bentley, principal, Bentley & Royce: How will the bottle be labeled, and what characteristics must it have to work with that process? Are your products sensitive to light, moisture or oxygen, and what materials or additives should be included to provide barrier protection? Will the products be transported across different altitudes or stored in high temperatures in warehouses or during shipment? How do consumers dispense your products, and can you add value to your package through a custom bottle design or closure component? Do you rely on your packaging to serve as graphic extension of your brand (such as custom colors or shapes)? And finally, how important is it for your packaging to be sustainable, and is that something best achieved by utilizing recycled materials, using less resin in the bottle, or some combination?

Berlin Packaging's five-step process begins with analysis, Scott Jost, vice president of innovation and design, said. It starts with the brand, its target consumer, the competitive set that it plays in, and the channels and accounts it sells through. The team employs tools such as market data from Datamonitor Consumer, consumer intercepts and store walk throughs. The supply chain the product flows through is documented as is every factor from the package filling and labeling equipment to shipping cartons to pallets. Next is engagement in creative exploration, then evaluating creative solutions against the success criteria developed in the analysis phase. Of the final creative round, one or more solutions are selected for aesthetic refinements and engineered for optimized part weight and cycle time. "To help us get to this essence, we developed a proprietary discovery document called Brand Brief Primer, a 15-page document that takes brand owners through an exercise to define the personality of their brand in ways that we can then translate into the personality of new packaging."

From a visual design element, according to Bentley, the packaging process begins with the brand strategy. How is the brand positioned? What is the brands story? What is its unique selling proposition? What are the consumer insights? What is the competitive landscape like? Then, we assess whether the brand identity articulates this strategy. If it does not, we recommend changes to the identity. Once the identity is congruent with the strategy, our job is to distinguish the packaging through the manipulation of the design elements: color, typography, imagery, shape and scale.

The right packaging is such that resonates with the target consumer who buys into its promise, and which keeps contents intact and safe to consume, and which is convenient and easy to store and use. If the packaging is right, the consumers will pay the price; if it's wrong, you will.

Read the first and second articles in this series.

Lisa Schofield, owner of WorDesigns, is an industry veteran who focuses on promotional writing, copy editing and trade press relations. She has been assisting ingredient suppliers in their quest for industry "fame" for 10 years and prior to this, she was a long-time trade media editor.

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