Thursday, April 27, 2006

Earth Day Battle: Packaging VS. The Environment Revisited

Wow, am I good. Last week I wrote about keeping track of bio resins and bio plastics and this week I get this conference announcement: Intertech-Pira presents its conference on Biodegradable Plastics Packaging Commercially viable bioplastics for the packaging industry Wednesday 12 and Thursday 13 July 2006, Renaissance Wien Hotel, Vienna, Austria.

I sure touched a "hot" button with my article last week "Earth Day Battle: Packaging VS. The Environment." If you didn't get your copy send me an email please. I have gotten interesting responses from all over the world. Mostly about the good things many packaging companies are doing for the environment (or say they are anyway). Packaging is surely taking notice of peoples concern for the environment and filling up the waste stream. Like I mentioned in my "13 Packaging Trends for 06" the environmental issues will be continue to heat up. Not only because of the concern for the environment but the volatility of resin prices which are causing people to explore other packaging alternatives.

There are so many new "green" packaging products I can't name them all. New products are being introduced every day. What I want you to do is think about "green" as a marketing tool for your packaging. The important message is to understand how companies are using the environment as part of their marketing and branding campaign for their packaging products. I will be writing more about this is a future issue.

For now here are some of the responses to: Earth Day Battle: Packaging VS. The Environment. Please feel free to contact them yourself.

<I enjoyed reading your Earth Day packaging story, although I was a bit dissapointed you didn't include info about the myriad of companies that are specifically phasing out PVC packaging in response to environmental and health concerns. It's really a growing trend with companies like Wal-Mart, Microsoft, Johnson and Johnson, and Crabtree & Evelyn announcing PVC packaging phase outs just within the past year.
I'd be happy to share with you some more info on this if interested.
To find out more contact Mike directly at:
Mike Schade
PVC Campaign Coordinator
Center for Health, Environment and Justice
9 Murray Street, Floor 3, New York, NY 10007-2223
Phone: (212) 964-3680
Fax: (212) 349-1366

From Theodore Downes @ MSU:The key point is that 1) solid waste is a significant environmental concern and, 2) packaging is about 1/3 of 3% of the problem, but receives about 97% of the attention. You encouraged readers to write or call. I'd be delighted to chat with you further. If you're interested, call me anytime
at 517-303-5732 or via email at

From Dirk:I just read your article in Packaging Digest regarding Packaging VS Environment. I am writing to you as the Sales & Marketing Manager of Denico Green products, Belgian based company that deals ONLY with biodegradable and compostable packaging and catering material.

Please see (our new web-site is under construction).

I also write you as the chairman of the new Belgian federation BBP (Belgian BioPackaging) recently created to cover all relevant manufacturers of biodegradable packaging as well as the main Belgian discounters (bringing the products in contact with the big market of consumers).

This federation also has as goal to persuade the Belgian national and regional authorities to facilitate consumers the use of biodegradable packaging.

Contact him @ Dirk WENs M. Comm - D.E.E.S.
Belgian Bio Packaging
Lambrechtshoekenlaan 147
B-2170 Merksem

Monday, April 24, 2006

Packaging Diva Heads West To Share Knowledge and Experience

JoAnn R. Hines, Packaging Diva, will share her packaging expertise and knowledge in May when she appears as the keynote speaker at the 19th annual Poly Pack Symposium presented by the Cal Poly Packaging Association. Hines’ valuable life lessons and packaging know-how promise to provide the perfect balance of information to impact the audience. As the keynote speaker, Hines will proficiently blend real world situations with her skilled understanding of the packaging industry.

Various events emphasizing the connection of education with industry will take place during the week of May 9 th-12th on the San Luis Obispo campus. In addition to Ms. Hines participation, the Symposium is compiled of presentations by packaging professionals, facility tours, awards banquet, silent auction, student project presentations, the world famous Egg Drop Competition and best-ball golf tournament. This exciting event provides endless opportunities for both professionals and students and is not to be missed by anyone. For more information, please visit or contact Packaging Program Director Jay Singh at or (805) 756-2129.

For more information on JoAnn Hines and her programs, please email

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Earth Day Battle: Packaging VS. The Environment

Earth Day Battle: Packaging VS. The Environment

This is the week we celebrate Earth Day. Each year there is plenty to talk about besides global warming, although in this case the packaging lids are doing the talking.This from Stonyfield Farms-On April 22, the 36th Earth Day will be celebrated around the world. We’re excited about it here because the Virtual Global March on Washington will conclude. (

Many detractors of the packaging industry get charged up during this period with claims on what packaging is doing to the environment and sustainability. Even chocolate packaging is under fire...The relaunch of a popular chocolate brand owned by Nestlé, the world's largest food company, is causing concern in environmentally conscious circles in Switzerland. Under attack is the decision to package chocolate in polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the plastic resin commonly used to bottle drinks. To read more go to

Sure some of that is true and, yes, the landfills are full of packaging materials, but the many companies in the industry are doing something about it. Remember in October when I mentioned this headline: "Wal-Mart Rocks Packaging World with Corn Based Packaging Order." If Wal-Mart becomes an early adapter, the rest of the world will soon follow suit. Any oil and natural gas-based plastics packaging suppliers will be scrambling to keep their business. Well, that moment is now. I'm getting dozens of releases weekly on new packaging materials that have a claim on supporting the environment. Keep on the lookout for packaging innovations using the words biobased or bioresins.

I did some quick research and was surprised to find this example that may not be all that well known: Eggland’s Best shares your concern about the environment. They pay careful consideration to their packaging choices, and only after in-depth study did they decide to package Eggland’s Best eggs in polystyrene foam packaging. They made this decision not only for its superior protection and merchandising of our eggs, but also for the overall environmental impact of polystyrene vs. pulp paper cartons. FYI, I love Egglands eggs.

This revelation points to the fact that the answer to supporting the environment may not be all that simple. After all, package manufacturing is a complex equation anyway so adding the "environment" to the mix just requires a little more thought.

Well known brands are jumping on the environmental bandwagon with interesting marketing campaigns. Earlier this year The Timberland Company today announced a footwear packaging initiative that reduces Timberland’s environmental impact and provides consumers with new information to help guide them in the purchase process. The initiative, the first of its kind in the retail industry, will be seen in stores in 2006. Most notably, Timberland will place a “nutritional label” on each box that will educate consumers about the product they are purchasing, including where it was manufactured, how it was produced, and its effect on the environment.

Highlights of the packaging initiative include:
• The “nutritional label” that will inform consumers about Timberland’s environmental and community impact.
• Footwear boxes made of 100 percent recycled post-consumer waste fiber.
• Footwear boxes using no chemical glues and only soy-based inks to print labels.
• Messaging inside the box that asks consumers “What kind of footprint will you leave?” and provides a call to action for them after purchase.

When Del Monte launched its line of fresh-cut fruit in Natureworks PLA packaging in 2004, it was one of the first brands in the category to make the switch to a compostable material and it continues to expand the brand.

NatureWorks LLC is probably the most highly publicized brand at present: "Dedicated to meeting the world’s needs today without compromising the earth’s ability to meet the needs of tomorrow, NatureWorks LLC is the first company to offer a family of commercially available greenhouse-gas-neutral polymers derived from 100 percent annually renewable resources with cost and performance that compete with petroleum-based packaging materials and fibers. For more information about NatureWorks and its brands, visit

"You might remember from reading "What's In Your Bottle?" BIOTA is changing the face of the beverage industry with its bottle. This revolutionary new plastic, developed by NatureWorks LLC, is derived from a 100 percent renewable resource, corn. BIOTA bottles disappear in approximately 80 days in a commercial composting environment. All other soda and water beverages are packaged in petroleum-based bottles, which will never degrade under similar composting conditions.

Some educational materials are using packaging as a learning example and teaching students about "green" packaging too. They show students that they can affect the Earth with the decisions they make at retail stores. It instructs them to bring in objects still in their packages to discuss whether each package is environmentally friendly or not with the class. The campaign includes a reward for the class, Smarties® Celebrate Earth Day Every Day Treat Packs which mention reducing, reusing, and recycling.

Whatever your product, it is vital to realize that environmental issues are here to stay. It’s imperative to stay on top of packaging trends that are driving the way consumers shop and buy. I want to hear from you if you are currently engaged in the "Earth Day Battle: Packaging VS. The Environment." Email me at

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Retail's First Moment Of Truth - The Package

What is a package any way? We all know it conveys a product from point A to point B. Besides the obvious of getting it there undamaged or not broken, what's a box supposed to do? That job has changed dramatically in the last decade. The package has become the “first moment of truth” at retail. And now, especially it’s going to decide whether someone will by your product, or not. So you better pay attention to not only what goes inside but what’s on the outside of the box.

Just because you have a great product doesn't mean its going to sell. Or even if you have it in the right retail environment that it’s going to fly off the shelf. Packaging a product the right way entails much more than just creating a box to put your product in. Sure, you are going to get it there in one piece, we hope but gone are the days of the box acting as only a protective shipping container. The box today is the "retail" salesperson. The box or package is expected to provide the necessary information to make an informed shoppers’ decision plus no salesperson is available to answer a question either. So the package must be the silent salesperson to tell all there is needed to know.

More importantly conveying the information about what is inside and how it’s going to help the consumer solve a problem. That’s an important factor to remember. When someone looks at your product in their minds they are saying “What is this product going to do for me?” Do think about your package from a consumer’s perspective, not a package designers or engineers. Don’t get caught up in the notion about what has to be “ON” the box rather what needs to be on the package to pique or satisfy the consumer’s interest. Keep engineering driven statements to a minimum, rather explain what value and benefits they will derive vs. technically oriented information.

Think about the people who shop. Today’s consumer is a moving target. You have market trends, demographics and market niches that are continually evolving at any point in time. If you are not staying on top of these trends then your product isn’t “connecting” to them with the right message. That core “message” is one of the most important attributes of your product packaging.

An intrinsic message can be conveyed in a number of ways. You can make your product more appealing though a variety of package applications. Here are a few ideas to consider, compelling graphics, a complete family of interrelated products, engaging lifestyle photographs, clear and concise and short instructions and benefits driven statements. All of which have a subtle “feel good” message for the consumer. It tells them what they need to know or provides information that “connects” them with other satisfied buyers.

Were you aware that women either influence or make the purchasing decision 85 percent of the time? In some market sectors its more and in some less, but over all its women that make the primary purchasing decision. What is going to get her to buy your product? The answer is not what you might think.

But consumer’s goods companies are finally waking up to that fact. Unfortunately, its not as simple as just taking the man off the box and replacing it with a woman. Nor is it to use pink packaging or other feminine colors. Did you know that the number one color for packaging chosen by women is blue followed closely by red?

So first, understand you need to connect with her on an intrinsic level. Do you understand why she is making the purchase? Alternatively, you need to know where she will be shopping. One thing is for sure, she will be in a hurry. Today's women are over worked, time crunched, and busy multitasking. How are you going to help her make an informed purchasing decision? Make it easy for her to buy and easy to use and understand and you will have a winner.

Are you aware that the 50 + generation is the fastest and most affluent purchasing demographic?
Did you know that:
· Americans age 50-plus control $7 trillion, or 70% of all US wealth.
· The 50-plus group brings in $2 trillion in annual income that they want to and are willing to spend.
· One baby boomer turns 50 every 8 seconds of every day. Do a little calculating here about this market size. Think of all the boomers that you know besides me.
· The most common phrase that seems to satisfy everyone is “active adults.”

Do you know what they want in their product packaging?
Whether you use the word, "boomer," "senior over 50," or "aging," this age group doesn't want to be referred to as old. No "over the hill" context. Use words that are not considered negative. In a recent survey I conducted, the words "golden," "aging" and "elder" were disliked. Sell the 50 + generation the experience and the benefits that come in using your product or service. Lifestyle issues are important. Boomers expect to live well and longer so conveying this in your product will create relevance. And don’t forget their eye sight issues too. Bigger type will satisfy them. As our population matures manual dexterity in opening the product will also become increasingly important.

It’s trends like this that dramatically influence product packaging and who will be the primary shopper. Yes, there are many other important demographics out there but women and 50+ gen. account for a tremendous and lucrative segment of the population. One you cannot overlook in any product packaging.

So it is imperative to understand what today’s consumer expects and demands from their product packaging. When a consumer shops, 70 % of the time they make the purchasing decision in the retail environment. That means at the store, not before and also means your product is competing with dozens of like or similar products for their attention. The clutter and proliferation of competitive products is almost mind boggling.

So even if you have established brand awareness, is it enough to make your product stand out on the shelf? A quick note here on branding for seniors: The over 50 population is not brand loyal contrary to what you might think. They will switch brands if you provide a superior experience especially at a lower or competitive price.

What makes this problem even more difficult is that on average a consumer is going to take approximately 2.6 second to make up their mind whether to pick your product off the shelf. That’s a few seconds of retail sensory overload that going to determine whether or not your product will sell. So your package better have the right message geared towards the right audience.

There are so many factors that can influence a buyer to pick up your product. But there are several things which I call “universal truths” that influence virtually any consumer.

1st: Time is not on your side.
Consumers are in a hurry. They are not going to take a lot of time making up their minds which item to buy. Make your product easy for them to access where and when they are shopping and have your product make the buying decision for them.

2nd: Convenience is mandatory.
Look at the success of Wal-Mart or Best Buy where you can access a myriad of products under one roof. Today’s consumer is looking for one stop shopping where they can the majority of what they need in one place. Other growth areas include convenience stores which are upgrading and expanding their quality and quantity of products.

3rd: KISS. Keep it simple stupid.
The more complicated the decision making process the more likely you will loose their interest. It needs to be quick, simple and uncomplicated.

Last but not least-----give them a reason to buy. What is this product going to do for them? In many cases They will even pay more if it solves a problem.

Other "social” issues that can influence your package in include:
Environmentally accountability or sustainability: Green issues revolving around disposability, recyclability, and the latest hot button issue bio-plastics. The environmental aspects of packaging are heating up. Every week there are dozens of article pertaining to packaging and the waste stream.

Packaging Innovation:
One major shift in consumer acceptance can cause a landslide of new product innovations. Companies are building entire brands around environmentally friendly packaging and consumers are waking up to the “garbage” problem.

Product security:
Much of this packaging has come about for specific reasons: security, tamper evident, counterfeiting and so on. If you cannot prove that, your product is secure and hasn't been tampered with, look out. Consumers are getting more and more wary of where products come from and how secure they remain though the manufacturing process. Look for many innovations that prevent counterfeiting, tampering, contaminating or any product degradation.

Under this category comes RFID applications and tracking your products from the manufacturer to the consumer. Believe it or not the media is driving this. Too much packaging that’s too hard to open. Consumer Reports just ran a spread in March about the 5 most difficult to open packages. (The Oyster Awards) And at Christmas time there are always scores of articles about “wrap rage”. So make sure the consumer can get in to the box and more importantly that it’s not a negative experience in doing so.

So if you want to package products consumers will buy keep the above in mind and:
Look outside your industry for innovative packaging ideas.
Don't become so “industry” focused that you overlook opportunities in other markets.
Get grounded in hot consumer trends and understand what drives people to buy.
Don't just package hype, package experiences.
Deliver value in the form of benefits consumers will derive from buying your product.
Keep current on who is buying what and where and don’t rely on what worked in the past.
Lastly look at the package from the consumer’s perspective not the manufacturers.
Remember the package should be your first thought not your last.

10 Ways Clients Utilize The Packaging Diva's Expertise

1. They need the services of a packaging consultant or expert.
2. They want to keep up with the latest packaging trends, technologies and innovations.
3. They have an upcoming conference where the need a packaging speaker and packaging expert for the program.
4. They are expanding into new consumer markets and require packaging expertise to make their products sell.
5. They want to target a specific demographic and need to understand how packaging influences the way we shop and buy.
6. They have a new product to introduce and want to make sure their packaging is on target.
7. They are considering a merger or acquisition and need to understand the intricacies of the packaging marketplace.
8. They need to find a packaging vendor to package their products.
9. They need to stay competitive on what's happening in the packaging industry.
10. They no nothing about packaging but need to learn in a hurry.

To find out more contact the Packaging Diva by email at or by phone 678-594-6872.