“A packager, a material supplier and a package designer walk into a room full of editors…” No, it’s not the start of a bad joke. But it IS what happened yesterday during the annual PMMI Thought Leaders Dinner.
In preparation for its yearly PACK EXPO events (this fall in Las Vegas), the trade group brings together about two dozen editors from across the spectrum of food and pharma processing, packaging and converting to drill panels composed on CPC and supplier reps on the issues of the day. (By the way, CONVERTING QUARTERLY [me] was the only web-processing publication there.) One such panel addressed “Open Innovation and Branding.” Members included Rocco Pawlowski, a chief package designer with Wm. Wrigley Co.; Eric Plourde, an IP manager with Zip-Pak; and Phil Hague, chief package designer at Webb deVlam Co.
“Open Innovation” is about a 50-year-old concept of dreaming up new ideas, products and solutions based on accessing information from every available source but especially from outside your own company and staff.
- To begin, Plourde talked about patent database mining, following industry news, collaboration among all members of the supply chain, and attending trade shows (wink, wink) as keys to open innovation.
- Hague used the metaphor of “The Three Little Pigs” to explain different approaches to using innovation in packaging. Each house—straw, sticks and bricks—has its pros and cons. He emphasized the design opportunities to be found between brands, businesses and consumers. All must be analyzed and the data pooled and studied to make the best innovation possible.
- Pawlowski said that “packaging is really an efficient media impression. It’s always ‘ON’ versus a TV ad.” Packaging is part of a holistic approach to branding that includes visuals, colors, the name, shape, the package feel, etc. Along with all this, integration with social media and use of QR codes on packaging are now a must. Wrigley is able to make the “packaging cost justification” because it’s a media impression, and investment is coming to support that, he says.
My Thoughts: As packaging-material converters, you have a vital (and early) role to play in the whole “Open Innovation & Branding” process. Be sure your company and its latest and greatest products are right out there for new packaging development from the very beginning. Be willing to work with other suppliers, your CPG customers and even the end-user consumers to come up with the best package possible. Don’t be afraid to push your branded materials into the marketing for the final branded product, too.