July/August 2022

Thoughtful package design protects freshness
By Tom Egan, VP of Industry Services, PMMI

With thoughtful design, packaging functionality can be extended to enhance the product, improve the consumer experience and make the sale in the brief time (averaging seven seconds) that a consumer looks at the package in the store.

That limited time is when an estimated 68-80% of purchasing decisions are made.

As noted in Fundamentals of Packaging Technology, 5th Edition, a reference published by the Institute of Packaging Professionals, “Cluttered graphic designs and contradictory messages cannot deliver the buying message in those critical seven seconds.” The authors concluded: “Such products are simply not seen by the potential purchaser. And unseen is unsold. Sometimes, unclear on-pack messaging leaves the consumer confused about a product — even unclear about product differences across an entire category — and a confused shopper may default to the safety of not purchasing at all.”

Tom Egan, VP of Industry Services, PMMI

Consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs) should therefore spend considerable time, manpower and money on package design. But when asked “What are your top three operational priorities?” CPGs ranked package design seventh, according to “Key Challenges for Packaging and Processing Operations,” a report published in September 2021 by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. This suggests that CPGs are missing an opportunity to drive sales and market share with thoughtful package designs. Some consumer demands that CPGs should be considering include offering environmentally friendly solutions and standing out in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Flexibility is key

With packaging materials and designs constantly evolving, it’s imperative that brand owners closely collaborate with material suppliers and OEMs to ensure new concepts will run smoothly and not create inefficiencies on existing equipment. New equipment must be flexible and future-proofed to handle new materials and packaging designs with minimal retooling. The growing importance of more sustainable packaging means that this flexibility is more important than ever.

For example, some processors are achieving sustainability goals by shifting from clamshells to lighter, space-saving stand-up pouches, which can include built-in convenience features like handles and reclosable zippers. There’s also been growing interest in replacing plastic packaging with corrugated, which is derived from renewable sources, readily recycled, potentially compostable and often contains recycled content. CPGs must invest in machinery that can move between these new and varied types of materials so they can meet changing consumer expectations for reduced plastic waste and environmentally conscious packaging.

A package design may be developed for a new product, but it also can refresh a brand or category to boost sales, capture the attention of a different demographic, or celebrate a season or holiday. Redesigned packaging also may extend shelf life, add functionality, or meet new regulatory requirements, such as a change in nutritional labeling. Such redesigns often focus on graphic elements including logos, color, artwork and typography. These elements work together to establish a brand identity and can create a unified appearance for product lines with many stock-keeping units. To further promote interaction with a brand, many produce processors are adding scannable QR codes, which link consumers to information like recipes or the location where the product was grown.

Innovations at Pack Expo International

Packaging that exemplifies how CPGs are creatively adapting to consumer needs and trends will be on display at Pack Expo International (Oct. 23-26 at McCormick Place, Chicago) in the Showcase of Packaging Innovations, sponsored by WestRock. Located in Booth W20042 in the Containers and Materials Pavilion, the exhibit features award-worthy packaging from around the world.

It is more important than ever that the packaging and processing industries come together to share insights and innovations, and the best place to do that is Pack Expo International. From connecting with colleagues and hearing from experts, to seeing new technologies, materials and machinery in action, Pack Expo is the most efficient and effective way to discover packaging and processing solutions for over 40 vertical markets. No other event this year will showcase entire production line solutions and offer attendees everything needed to compete in a changing marketplace. For more information and to register, visit packexpointernational.com.

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