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When it comes to packaging, less is more

Consumer product companies have been cutting down on extraneous packaging for good reasons. The rise in raw material, energy, manufacturing and transportation costs, coupled with the rise in consumers' environmental consciousness all play a part in reducing packaging.
Wal-Mart's "Packaging Scorecard" has also applied pressure from the world's largest retailer to over 66 000 suppliers to reduce packaging. Wal-Mart is pushing to become "packaging neutral" by 2025. No small feat. The impact of this decision has had profound ramifications in the entire consumer product industry.

The effect of these factors combined: a classic case of push-pull. Slowly, but surely, manufacturers are becoming more environmentally focused and making significant strides in reducing packaging.

Procter & Gamble's rigid tubes of Crest toothpaste now stand on retail shelves sans boxes. Nestle Waters North America saved 20 million pounds of paper over five years by designing narrower labels on its popular water brands. Coca-Cola plans on cutting plastic in its Dasani water packaging by 7% merely by redesigning the shape of the bottles.

Kellogg recently announced that it would test shorter, fatter cereal boxes, representing the company's biggest packaging change since the 1950s.

Savings go straight to the bottom line


Here are cost savings that go right to the bottom line. The perception is of a greener footprint, and taking a lead marketing position in a highly competitive category. That's all good - if it works according to plan.

The potential hitch: After decades of consumers being educated that smaller packaging equates to less product, it's imperative to re-educate consumers that in the case of greener packaging, it isn't necessarily so. Smaller or lighter pack sizes will have be used to enforce positive values. Otherwise, they become the cause of negative perceptions among consumers.

No easy task. But consider: What better way is there to sell sustainable values than through that most important of marketing initiatives - packaging? Using the packaging to explain why consumers are seeing and holding less packaging presents a valuable opportunity that should not be missed.

Further, using packaging as a communications platform about the company's commitment to sustainability issues is a powerful tool to reach consumers. Tying that messaging in to every customer touch point will reinforce these values to consumers and give companies that embrace environmentally friendly practices and greener packaging, a competitive edge.

Be smart


Some marketers observe that if more and more consumer products begin to appear in sustainable packaging, that edge will disappear. Not so. If companies are smart about the manner in which they think and work, they can continue to leverage this - always being on the leading edge.

Smart companies will continually embrace forward-thinking package design systems and find ways to do business more efficiently on every front, including the intelligent use of energy and natural resources. Continuing commitment to these important goals will make the companies and brands that embrace them shine in the eyes of consumers.

How about this for a paradox: Reducing packaging will only increase its importance in promoting the brand. The old adage "Less is more" is true, after all.

Article courtesy of MediaPost
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About the author

ed Mininni is president of Design Force, Inc., a leading US-based brand design consultancy to consumer product companies with Enjoyment Brands. Design Force helps its clients market brands that deliver positive, gratifying experiences to consumers. Its expertise lies in emotionally connecting consumers to brands by creating compelling visual brand experiences, which motivate purchase decisions.
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