Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Desperate Housewives.... Whats for Dinner????

I count myself among the many desperate housewives who echo the
daily question...

What's for dinner? This all-encompassing question won't go away
despite my desire that with a snap of my fingers a fully prepared
nutritious meal is ready for consumption and on the table. Yet,
thanks to the packaging industry and its proliferation of new
product ideas, I'm less frenzied about this question than I used
to be. Yes, believe me things have changed from my mother’s day
when cooking healthful meals was a time consuming chore. Food
marketers finally understand that good food need not equate to
long hours in the kitchen.

I love to cook; however, it seems there are not enough hours in
the day to make the home cooked meals I grew up on. Real food
prep used to be a lot of work. Now with many new packaging
innovations the hard work is actually done for me. I use many of
these new packaging innovations in an effort to save time and
because they are good. Every week I scour the supermarket shelves
for new offerings that make my life a little easier. I regularly
try different products to see just how time saving they really
are -- even if the price might be at a premium. Remember, time is

This Thanksgiving I was happy to pick up the bags of prewashed,
precut turnip greens.

Ever spend a couple of hours stripping and washing greens? Not a
pretty sight. How many of you know what turnip lice looks like?
Believe me if you have them you will know. But thanks to
packaging technology, this horror is now avoided with packaged
prewashed greens.

As I search the isles looking for the latest and greatest food
product, I'm pleased to discover that the packaging companies are
really thinking about me. There are now prechopped goodies of all
kinds: carrots, peppers, onions (no crying please), washed and
ready to eat salads -- which I use despite the claims of no
nutritious value. (I recently read an article about how the
greens were washed in a chlorine bath, which washed out all the
nutrients. I admit it made me fell a little squirrelly, but I
have been to the "Fresh Express" lettuce factory and I didn't see
anything untoward happening.)

My newest favorite is the Jimmy Deans breakfast skillets that are
ready to go after only about ten minutes in the pan. After all
breakfast is the most important meal of the day so who cares
about the calories? Speaking of calories, how many of you saw Mr.
Potato Head in the Macy's Day parade? (I'm dating myself here.)
Mr. Potato Head was one of my favorite childhood games. Yes, the
misunderstood potato is making a comeback despite carb counters
and all that stuff about them being bad for you. I love the
premashed potatoes that come packaged in a tub ready to heat and
eat. They are as good as homemade, so my husband says, and let’s
face it. A tub of premashed spuds is certainly are a whole lot
less hassle.

Publix, where I shop most of the time, has dozens of ready-to-eat
in 30 minutes or less meals. All of them use prepackaged,
prewashed, prechopped or preprepared ingredients that could not
exist without the package. So, the next time you get a little
frenzied about what's for dinner, thank the innovations of
packaging because you’d be desperate without them.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Food Packaging Trend – 100 Calorie Snacks; Smart or Stupid?

We all know that snacking can be good or bad for you depending on
the amount of calories you consume. It is well documented that
eating six small meals to maintain blood sugar levels is
healthier than eating three large ones. Included in a healthy
eating regime are snacks. The problem is what kind of snacks.
Most of what we consider a snack is very high in caloric content.
It’s hard to find a satisfying "low calorie" snack.

Consumer goods companies are entering the healthy snack market
with a bevy of "100" calorie offerings. Now I'm not saying that
all of these are good for you, but they do keep the calorie
content to a minimum. The best part is they count the calories
for you -- especially if you are a little low on will power.

Healthy snacking isn't a fad. It’s about eating things in
moderation. Even if you fall off the wagon and eat more than one
portion, at least you know how many calories you have consumed.

What is a hundred calorie snack? Ask any calorie counter about
100 calorie snacks and you will get a variety of opinions: a
small apple, a piece of string cheese.

Food marketers are happy to pounce on a new opportunity to market
100-calorie treats with a host of new product offerings.
Consumers goods companies are mirco-sizing their products. Every
thing from chocolate to sports bars. They are making money doing

What's happening with the packaging? It has more appeal and touts
less guilt. First, they all say 100-calorie snack. Terminology
such as this on a single-serve reinforces the message.

A few product names you might recognize:
Procter & Gamble launched the Pringles 100 Calorie Pack in August

Kraft Foods Inc. introduced new recipes for its tried-and-true
snacks, all under a new 100-Calorie Pack label.

All these products are included in a "sensible snacking
portfolio" of products. Sounds pretty sophisticated to me.
Whatever 100-calorie snack you consume, remember just because its
only 100 calories doesn't mean it’s good for you. The consolation
is if you do fall of the wagon you won't have fallen very far.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Does Your Packaging, Umm, Smell?

If it doesn't, perhaps it should. The latest and greatest
packaging innovations are packages that smell. They give those
olfactory glands a workout. Watch for packages sporting
"fragrances" such as chocolate and vanilla. Just think of all the
calories saved by smelling the package and not even eating the
product. Weight watchers should love it this concept. Consider
all of the applications of tricking your stomach into thinking
you have eaten (after all the smell of food is as important as
the taste, well almost).

This is a great concept: Using your nose to sell products. The
"smelly" package. I can see both the pros and the cons of using
this innovation. First, let me tell you I have some samples of
fragrance encapsulated in plastic and believe me they are still
strong enough to knock over a horse. The fragrance does not truly
represent the "essence" it is supposed to, but it does have an
odor that works. I'm sure other essences are more "true" in
fragrance to the real product they represent. It is especially
long lived too, e.g., never dilutes. In fact, the scent is so
strong that I had to move the samples out of nose region for
sanity sake.

Consider all of those smells that equate to the good things in
life. Did you know the number one fragrance that appeals to men
is vanilla? Apple pie, mom and all those homey smells are wrapped
up in the analysis of that one fragrance. I am not sure I want to
smell like a vanilla bean but it is a very popular fragrance in
its appeal to women too. Vanilla fragrance has a multitude of
applications useful in product packaging.

What about all the products manufactured that use a little "home
cooked" smell? The opportunities are endless. While she is
walking down the supermarket isle, delicious odors wafting about
that are reminiscent of "home cooked" goodies. Even if she never
uses the product, it could just sit on her shelf and smell as if
she did. Forget fragrance candles. My toaster does it for me.

The scratch and sniff label application has been around for a
while. It has always been prevalent in the cosmetic and
toiletries industries but even toothpaste is using scratch and
sniff now. How else could you discern your cinnamon toothpaste
purchase from the bourbon flavored (just kidding)?

What about the coffee maker that emits the essence of fresh
brewed Starbucks coffee? Cha ching! Think about the sales you could
capture in this successful marketplace by using an appropriately
dispensed fragrance on your product (essence de cappuccino).
Anyone ready for coffee?

Let's face it. Marketers are looking for angles to get our
attention in this sensory overload environment. Creating products
emitting savory odors wafting down the shopping isles.
"Smelly" packaging could be just one more way to entice her to
pick your product up off the shelf.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Packaging Myths And Realities About Women Older Than 50

I am always amazed when I see marketers advertising new products. From products touting various skin creams and anti-aging creams to the latest and greatest weight management program, the campaigns are larger than life. When will they understand that I want to look good for MY age and not the age I was 20 years ago? I am not trying to recapture my youth or be razor thin like a model. Today, most products' packaging simply does not identify with whom I am, how I see myself or embody the person I would like to be. Packages with 30-year-old models try to convince me that if I use their cream the reflection in my mirror will roll back 20 years. Get real, as if this would compel me to purchase this product.

I'm sure that out there somewhere is that perfect "niche" to which they are marketing AND selling. The question in my mind is who in the world is this? It certainly doesn't relate to me - an over 50 female who represents 50% of the world's population that is soon to be the largest demographic marketing segment. This market also has the money to spend and is willing to spend it for the right products.

Just who is it I represent? Women over 50 years of age are an underserved, unknown, and obviously underrated segment of the purchasing population. When was the last time an advertisement truly captured that demographic segment with compelling graphics and images it can relate too?

Marketers just don't get it. A daily dose of TV advertising will convince you that you are fat (seriously), your skin is wrinkled, you have yellow teeth, and you need a push-up bra. Where is the reality in that? I've been there and loved every minute of it, but now I am at an age in my life when much of that "hype" really doesn't matter to me. I am comfortable with who I am. I don't think I am fat, my laugh lines show character, my teeth shine when I smile and just give me a comfortable bra!

Recent ads from Dove and Nike are coming close to getting the marketing message about 50+ women. I loved the thunder thighs and big butts connotations because they are getting closer to our reality. The truth is the images and marketing messages on most packaged products fall short of attracting the female +50 market's attention. The packages don't drive the market to connect with the product and compel them to buy it.

I'm ready to spend money, so where are the products that I crave? I can't buy clothes without looking like Little Bo Peep or worse, Cher. I can't buy cosmetics without outlandish colors. I don't want to be reminded every five seconds that I'm not the slim 25 year old I used to be. It is as if they think we are no longer attractive since we have passed the big 50.

I don't need a push up bra. I need things that make me feel good, applaud me for my success in life, and keep me grounded to the fact that I'm not old, senior, golden, aged or any other similar nomenclature. I'm at the half way point in my life with lots of dynamic years left. Give me products that support that vision. Put them in packages that I can read the type and actually open without assistant and you got me hooked. So get real marketers. I have money to spend. Create something that resonates with me then and I will buy it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Weighing On Walmart's "Green" Packaging Decision

Last week when I wrote about Wal-Mart and its decision to switch to corn-based plastic on some of its produce products, I wasn't sure anyone was listening to my message. I have to say the follow-up response has been incredible.

I received lots of great insights from informed packaging professionals. Most of you felt that this was "big" news and could dramatically impact the future of the packaging industry. A few comments were along the line of Wal-Mart what are you thinking? I learned more about corn-based packaging alternatives from my readers too. From what I read the jury may still be out on the longevity of this innovation.

Whatever is the outcome, the point I want to emphasize is that a shift by one of the early technology adapters can influence the direction of the entire marketplace. With Wal-Mart it's significance lies not only on the size of the order they placed but the other "hot button issues" they are addressing: Sustainability, environmentally friendly, renewable resource and so on. Best of all they are staying outside of the price volatility of the petroleum-based packaging products. Some people have even speculated that the price for this environmentally friendly alternative won't cost any more than conventional materials. That would be a surprise. Traditionally consumers have to pay a premium for supporting the environment.

Is the future moving to corn-based plastics? Its too soon to tell from the commitment of a single order. But everyone will be taking notice of the success or failure of this new venture. Fortunes could be made or lost and some companies could even go out of business. My best advice is to stay in the loop if you buy or sell any plastic-based packaging product.

Make sure to stay tuned in the coming weeks for news of innovations or packaging trends that may not be as big as this one but that could have a serious impact on your business.

If you are planning on attending the IIR seminar on Capturing The Purchasing Power of Women" where I will be speaking on packaging products women will but, you can get a 15% discount using this code SPKRM1795JH when you register @ https://www.iir-ny.com/women/index.cfm/Action=PreReg/t=m/goSection=4