Innovation a key to thriving in packaging sector

Jessica Hobrook

Published: February 10, 2012 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Materials, Sustainability, Packaging, 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

Sabic: Rapid demand growth led to Ultem shortage

December 18, 2014 12:06 pm ET

Sabic Innovative Plastics has been increasing production capacity for its Ultem polyetherimide but it still got caught short by increasing demand for ...    More

Image

Amcor buys Chinese flexible packaging plant

December 18, 2014 1:47 pm ET

Australian-based global packaging company Amcor Ltd. is buying a Chinese flexible packaging business for 211 million RMB (US$31.4 million).    More

Image

Soy-based foam improves window performance, sustainability

December 18, 2014 12:51 pm ET

Launched in April 2013, Madison, Wis.-based WFI Global LLC is making a name in the fenestration market with what it says is a distinct product...    More

Image

Europe puts its 'Circular Economy' recycling effort on hold, for now

December 18, 2014 12:28 pm ET

The European Commission has withdrawn its Circular Economy initiative from its 2015 work program, and will instead replace it with “a new, more ...    More

Image

Bubbles add some flair to 'Plain Jane' PET bottles

December 17, 2014 1:05 pm ET

Ron Puvak and the folks over at Plastic Technologies Inc. see big things coming from some very tiny bubbles.    More

Market Reports

Flexible Packaging Trends in North America

Our latest RESEARCH report examines trends in FLEXIBLE PACKAGING impacting the North American market including a review of economic conditions, key drivers of growth, materials pricing, M&A activity, sustainability challenges and the outlook for 2015.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 billion plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

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

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

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events