With a restful weekend now gone, I’ve sufficiently recovered from last week’s PACK EXPO / CPP EXPO. Here are a few “Converting Curmudgeon” thoughts on the annual packaging and converting tradeshow adventure.
* After a scaled-back Graph Expo this fall and the demise of the empty CMM last year, it felt great to attend a hugely popular, sometimes overpopulated tradeshow. Yes, especially on the second and third day, there were times when the aisles were actually blocked by groups of attendees or just the steady stream of visitors slowly perusing the exhibits. (No, I did NOT run people over with my scooter while in a hurry to make a supplier appointment.) Cutting the event back to four full days didn’t seem to limit visitors’ opps, and did let exhibitors take advantage of two regular pay-rate days for booth dismantling.
* The Dow Chemical-sponsored Showcase of Packaging Innovations® in the Brand Zone was clearly a can’t-miss display of award-winning packages from 17 trade groups and packaging organizations around the world. While not all of it was exactly converted packaging-related, the astute observer would easily have been able to get new ideas for all kinds of packages for just about every product imaginable. Kudos to Dow and PMMI.
* Bailey Brand Consulting (Plymouth Meeting, PA) took the top prize in the Project 2020 Competition. Its Dissolving SoapStix concept for an environmentally-friendly, easy-to-use alternative to liquid soap was named Grand Prize winner in the “Package of the Future” challenge, sponsored by DuPont. Dissolving SoapStix eliminate the bulky containers of typical liquid-soap dispensers. SoapStix solid-gel cylinders are simply added to water in any soap dispenser consumers choose to use. The package’s molded clamshell is made from recycled fibers, printed with soy inks and is recyclable. (I can certainly see future apps for this product as the final cost is bound to be less than its traditional competition. Some of the other Project 2020 concepts had that air of unrealistic future techny-ness. But on second review, what would you have thought of today’s ubiquitous, super-curvy, shrink-labeled bottles shown as a concept back in 1995?)
* The Mean “Green” Packaging Machine: Sustainability and all its related aspects are now fully ingrained in the industry. Everyone knows “greenwashing” when they see it, so nobody gets a pass when it comes to claiming your company or product’s Earth-happiness. You better be prepared to prove it, buster. Noteworthy were some big-name suppliers such as Taghleef Industries, Toray Plastics (America) and Klockner-Pentaplast introducing bio-based film lines. And, of course, it’s not just materials anymore as both machinery and equipment makers as well were touting their systems’ energy-efficiency.
* Iconoculture did a superb job of linking QR codes, JagTags and augmented reality, etc., with today’s and tomorrow’s apps for interactive packaging. I’m pretty sure there won’t be flashing cartoon displays on every kid’s cereal box anytime soon, but when it comes to detailed, easily accessible information via a patient’s prescription-drug package (that also boosts compliance and reporting back to the doctor), yeah, this is only a few years away.
* What to do about CPP? Various data from organizers H.A. Bruno and PMMI showed that more attendees this year indicated their interest or responsibility for converting and/or package printing. That’s one positive. But where were they? Traffic was anemic on opening day (chalk that up to it being a Sunday and the fact that it seems to take until the second day of PACK EXPO in Chicago before visitors discover that there’s a lower level to the East Building. Things were definitely better on Monday and Tuesday. The benefit of the Las Vegas venue in odd-numbered years is CPP’s better location on the main floor. I’m looking forward to that. While Converting Quarterly had a well-positioned 10×20-ft booth, it’ll be even better to be amid a much busier hall in 2011.