Innovation a key to thriving in packaging sector

Jessica Hobrook

Published: February 10, 2012 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Packaging, Sustainability, Materials, Film & Sheet, Design

LAS VEGAS (Feb. 10, 6 p.m. ET) — Innovation was the name of the game at the annual Packaging Conference.

Packaging industry insiders and experts gathered to discuss issues and advancements in their field, ranging from the development of new oxygen scavengers to the creation of zero-landfill pouches. While trends and topics varied, most presenters agreed: it’s time for brands and companies to start innovating or risk being left behind.

With an improving, but still tumultuous, economy, capitalizing on a niche market or addressing consumer needs can be the key to success.

“Innovating in a down economy is probably the best time, because when the recession is over you’re going see yourself reaping the benefits,” said Michael Orkoroafor, vice president of global packing at H.J. Heinz.

Orkoroafer used Heniz’s latest packaging advancement, the Dip-n-Squeeze portable ketchup packet that debuted in 2010, as an example of change done right. The package addressed a long-term customer complaint -– the small, difficult to open ketchup sachet. The result drew national media attention and snagged several awards, he said.

When working on new developments, companies need to make sure they are not innovating for innovations sake, because they have the capability or because there’s a new technology, he said. Instead, change should be rooted in trying to create a product a consumer wants and is willing to pay for and that will help grow your brand.

“That means you have to run and chew gum at the same time,” he said, adding that it’s not easy, but when it’s done correctly everyone wins.

Technology and engineer can help bridge the gap between what consumers want and what a company can produce, explained Yu Shi, world-wide director of early research at Colgate-Palmolive Co.

Consumers want packaging to be functional and to do its job well, they want packages that are easy and quick to use, and protect its contents, Shi said. They also want products to be catered to their specific needs and feel personal, something packaging can help fulfill.

Interlocking toothpaste caps, for example, make consumers feel like their product is being protected. It also helps the product feel personal – like “it’s my toothpaste,” she said.

Excellent engineering finds a way to fulfill those needs, even if consumers can’t articulate them. Consumers don’t know they want their toothpaste tubes to have a better UV barrier, they just want their toothpaste to come in a clear package and taste fresher, she said.

All packaging innovations, from the cosmetic to the complete overhaul, need to communicate a brands message to buyers and stand out from its competitors.

“Purchases shouldn’t be complicated, but store shelves are,” said Denise Lefebvre, vice president of global beverage packaging at PepsiCo.

Global brands like Pepsi need to ensure that their packaging carries the same iconic look in every location, but should be adapted to local needs. A bottle of Pepsi in Vietnam will look different than a bottle of Pepsi in the United States, but they both evoke the same feelings and convey the same messages of quality and sustainability, she said.

“Every time your consumer comes in touch with your brand it’s the same promise over and over again,” she said.

To achieve this, companies need to think like consumers, an area where many companies fall short.

“They’re so focused on technology and that’s great, but that’s a tool, that’s an enabler to get to the consumer,” she said.  “It’s not about falling in love with the technology; it’s about falling in love with the drive to improve the consumer experience.”

The Packaging Conference, which is produced by Plastic Technologies Inc. and SBA-CCI Inc., was held Feb. 6-8 in Las Vegas.


Comments

Innovation a key to thriving in packaging sector

Jessica Hobrook

Published: February 10, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

EPA fines RI polymer company

August 29, 2014 1:20 pm ET

A Rhode Island polymer manufacturer has reached a $60,000 settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for violating federal clean...    More

Image

Updating a travel icon for the professional millennial

August 29, 2014 11:44 am ET

As part of a drive to expand its customer base to include more millennials, Airstream Inc. turned to the Columbus College of Art & Design's...    More

Image

Tighter resin prices leading to price hike for PE film

August 29, 2014 11:13 am ET

One of North America's largest film makers is pushing through a polyethylene price increase due, in part, to the tight resin market.    More

Image

Chinese compounders seek market shares, often at the expense of margins

August 29, 2014 10:02 am ET

China's largest compounder, Kingfa Sci. & Tech. Co. Ltd., as well as its more automotive-focused counterparts Shanghai Pret Composites Co. Ltd. and...    More

Image

Green trend boosts plastic building materials business in China

August 29, 2014 9:42 am ET

The greening of China's domestic building materials market is giving the plastics industry a boost.    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Pipe, Profile & Tubing Extrusion in North America 2014

U.S. demand for extruded plastics is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2014, with PVC remaining the largest segment.

Plastic pipe will post the strongest gains through 2018, continuing to take market share from competing materials in a range of markets.

Our latest market report provides in-depth analysis of current trends and their financial impact on the pipe, profile and tubing extrusion industry in North America.

Learn more

2014 Injection Molding Industry Report

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY IN SIGHT FOR INJECTION MOLDERS IN 2014

In the wake of the economic turbulence earlier in this decade, molders today find themselves in much better shape. Molders are gaining a competitive advantage by investing in people, equipment and seeking inroads into new markets on a global scale.

Growth in the injection molding industry is going to be driven by low financing costs and a continued move to reshore some business.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events