Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Beer Profits Drop. Could it be the Packaging?

I have been tracking the beer industry for a while and am wondering why they just don't "get it" in their marketing efforts. They continue to fail to package products that are appealing to seniors and women. It’s not just the calories that make this product less appealing to women and seniors (even with an overflow of tasteless low carb, low calorie introductions).

The product offerings simply don't "connect" with a target audience other than men. Now that's a great marketing ploy. Market to men, but guess what? By doing this they miss more than 50% of the potential market. It's not going to get any better no matter how many "beer bimbo" advertisements they generate. With all the beer giants scrambling for a market share, it is remiss and an opportunity lost not to market to women and seniors.

This headline compelled me to explore the subject a little more.(Anheuser-Busch Q1 Profit Declines.) It seems that beer hasn't been able to move beyond the traditional male oriented marketing campaigns. Beer sales in general have been on the decline while wine sales are on the upswing. I could give you dozens of examples of new wine products targeting women and seniors with their product packaging. The package is using everything from cute and cuddly creatures to exotic and romantic offerings.

Wine has really gone "niche" in their product development, even wines that are offered in pink packaging (Ugh.) But the upsurge in wine sales has proven that the packaging works. Hopefully, the beer industry will take notice. I wrote about clever ways to market wine to women in my article "Wooing Women with Packaging." If you need a copy it's in the "Best of The Diva" Part # 1 available athttp://packaginguniversity.com/pkgustorefront.htm

Aside from the hullabaloo about what material the beer can or bottle should be made from some interesting new concepts in beer packaging are starting to surface at last.I found this one particularly appealing from a branding perspective.(New Belgium Brewing Introduces the Summer’s Most Flavorful and Figure-Friendly Beer: Go ahead and reveal a little more this season! Skinny Dip, New Belgium Brewing’s newest seasonal beer, sheds its calories and carbs while sporting a full-bodied flavor, ranking it as the coolest choice for a figure-friendly and highly refreshing summer beer.)

Other new packaging includes Heineken's keg can for the fridge, which gives people draft beer at home. But, seriously, as much as I love beer, I'm not going to buy it in a keg except for a special occasion.

Move over coosies... (Coors Light's "cold in hand" innovation, the Cold Wrap Bottle, is a fusion of rocket science and Rocky Mountain cold refreshment. Each Cold Wrap Bottle has a 360 degrees label with Outlast(R) technology to keep beer colder longer by helping to keep the heat of a drinker's hand away from the beer. Outlast(R) Thermocules(TM), the same high-tech insulator developed for space travel, actually reflects the heat from the hand, making the cold refreshment inside the bottle last longer." ) No more warm beer. Now that's innovation.

I'm sure there are more exciting innovations that I'm not aware of. I did run across several fruit flavored beers and I can really get excited by Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock, mmm chocolate. But for the most part, beer better get connected with the two largest demographic audiences with their product packaging (seniors and women) if they expect future profits and not losses.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

What Wal-Mart Wants Wal-Mart Gets

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, has decided that it wants to sell organic food. They made the "big" announcement last week. Having shopped Wal-Mart looking for a natural or organics food section, I find this declaration to be long overdue. Currently, most of the nation's major food producers are hard at work developing organic versions of their best-selling products. Look for new organic products from as Kellogg’s Rice Krispies or Kraft macaroni and cheese later this year.

All things "organic" has become the new rage. There are some very successful retailers trading on this fact including Whole Foods and Wild Oats Markets. A new study conducted by Grapentine Company, Inc. revealed that a majority of consumers rank the concept of purchasing fresh food in natural-based packaging on par with two of grocery retails highest-selling product trends, fresh herbs and spices, and organic meats and produce.

Seems that Wal-Mart, along with other retailers, is trying to modernize and improve their image with more contemporary offerings, "organic" being one.

But what does this mean to you? I just came back from giving the keynote, "If You Package It will They Buy," at Cal Poly Poly Pack 06 http://www.cppackaging.us/ last week. All of the audience’s (the largest ever) questions revolved around the "green" movement in packaging.
Everyone wanted to know what the future is for the current environmental movement in package development. As you know, I have dedicated several past PNYCU issues to that very topic. Remember "Earth Day Battle: Packaging VS. The Environment" and "It's Easy Being Green - Packaging Your "Green" Brand" which give numerous examples of new package introductions?

If you recall I wrote last fall about "How Wal-Mart Rocked The Packaging World" by placing a very large order for corn based plastic clamshells in its produce department. This action has spurred a bevy on new "green" packaging products.

Wal-Mart even hosted the Wal-Mart Environmental Sustainability Packaging Fair, held April 12 through 14 in Bentonville, Ark. (If you were lucky enough to be invited to participate, be sure and let me know the outcome.) Some claim this support for "environmental sustainability" by Wal-Mart is political whitewashing. Who knows the reality; I only know that the number of new "green" product announcements has increased dramatically and Wal-Mart is leading the charge.

Logically it makes sense that organic products would be packaged in some kind of environmentally friendly or natural material. After all, the very word organic means food produced without chemically formulated fertilizers, growth stimulants, antibiotics or pesticides. Most likely the food producers would prefer "green" packaging to complement their organic offerings. This presents a growth opportunity for packaging to develop new materials and packaging concepts.

When one company can drive packaging innovation, it’s critical to pay attention where they are going and how this can impact the future of your business. Other retail drivers are companies like Home Depot and Costco or even the fast food giant McDonalds that are eyeing ways to attract new consumers or keep the ones they have. It’s important to recognize a shift in the focus of these giant retailers their direction drives where the majority of the business will go. Most important of all take in to consideration: What Wal-Mart Wants Wal-Mart Gets.

Some Related Sites To Check Out

Monday, May 08, 2006

Ask The Packaging Diva Questions About Packaging

JoAnn Hines the Packaging Diva will be a guest on the Lifestyle CEO Internet Radio Show to discuss and share her packaging expertise Monday on May 15 at 1:00pm EST

The Lifestyle CEO Show offers practical advice and workable strategies to achievement-oriented women entrepreneurs who are trading in the glass ceiling to build their own corporate ladders and create the lives they love. The Lifestyle CEO Show airs live on Monday's at 1:00pm EST on Global Talk Radio.com. All interviews are conducted via telephone conference bridge and are archived at our show website. Past guests have included Tamara Monosoff, Esq., author of The Mom Inventor's Handbook, Julie Clark, founder of Baby Einstein, and Jack Canfield, co-founder of Chicken Soup For The Soul and Paula Deen of Paula's Home Cooking of the Food Network. You can enjoy these and other past Lifestyle CEO Shows at this link: http://www.lifestyleceo.com/radiotv/radio.asp .

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

It's Easy Being Green - Packaging Your "Green" Brand

Last week, I wrote about packaging and the environment. Since then I have been flooded with a host of interesting new packaging and product introductions. Surprisingly much of the packaging innovation is coming from outside the U.S. than from our own national companies.

It seems that there is much more going on in environment legislation about packaging in other countries. In fact, at the World Packaging Organization meeting in Beijing last week it was announced that China is working to develop "green packaging" as part of its efforts to build an environment-friendly society. I also have had the opportunity to read some very interesting facts including this tidbit: the world consumes 25 billion pizza boxes annually. So, if your pizza box is "green" you can save the world.

Seriously, it's great to make an announcement and to get the word out about all new packaging innovations, but the real test is integrating your "green" packaging products into your brand.

People are jumping on the environmental band wagon because it’s a hot topic right now. The recent Earth Day activities made people think about things that have to do with the environment. Global warming issues are on the news daily and people are looking for scapegoats as the cause. The packaging industry is often chastised for having unfriendly environmental policies. I'm not here to debate this point, but to talk about using environmental issues in a positive manner.

Let's take the word "green" as an example. Obviously, we think of the color first.
But what about the variations of the definition that relate to packaging? How green is your packaging world?
• Green could mean less damage to the environment;
• Green could be producing packaging from renewable resources;
• Green could be designing products for environmental sustainability;
• Green could be the use of less material and recyclable and degradable materials.
So "green" can be maximized for branding purposes in a host of different ways.

If you have a "green" packaging product what ways are you capitalizing on the current media exposure (in addition to send out a press announcement)? Here are a few points to consider:
• Did you support or promote participation in any Earth Day activities?
• Do you belong to any one of the many organizations that support "green" and the environment?
• Did you orchestrate your new packaging introduction to coincide with Earth Day or other environmental events?
• Have you submitted your green product to the numerous packaging associations’ opportunities for environmental awards?
• Have you submitted your package to any of the non packaging related organizations that have "environmental" awards?
• Do you have a plan in place that your entire staff understands and utilizes to build your "green" brand?
• Do they believe in being "green" (very important)?
• Have you looked at any websites such as treehugger.com (great site with lots about packaging) to see what they are doing?
I just saw this:
“The last day to enter our "Unexpected Green" Contest is quickly approaching - this Friday, May 5th. Just as a quick refresher, we are looking for green items you have found in normally not so green places, big box retailers, mall stores, the Exxon-Mobil gift shop (OK that might be a bit of a stretch). Send your "unexpected green" items to: CONTEST@treehugger.com and tell us that the product is, where you found it, and why you think it was an unexpected find. So, if you want to get your hands on the contest prize, a $350 gift certificate from Earth, be sure to get your entries in pronto to contest@treehugger.com”

Sure it seems a bit far fetched but Treehugger lives in the blogosphere world and we all know how important blogging is to the media. Try a quick GOOGLE search for "green packaging." Yes, there are a few products listed but what is more important is what is not there. A huge area of untapped marketing potential is available for increasing the visibility for your packaging products.

No matter how unusual or "out there" the opportunity seems you cannot under estimate who will see and read about your "green" brand. Let me use a personal experience as an example: I wrote two e-zine issues entitled "Earth Day Battle: Packaging VS the Environment." I received lots of new inquiries from all over the globe with a simple headline.

The branding issue I want you to think about is: (1) Is your "green" packaging product is a flash in the pan? (2) Has there been serious brand integration of the "green" message throughout your company? (3) Are you using your "green" message in all the promotion, literature and media exposure? Remember it’s never too early to plan your "green" branding campaign for Earth Day 07 and to maximize your brand.

For more insights on It's Easy Being Green - Packaging Your "Green" Brand and how to get started contact me via email at PackagingDiva@aol.com or by phone @ 678-594-6872.