Friday, June 16, 2006

Are You Wanted By The Packaging Police?

I finally had to speak out. The packaging industry is under attack by the "packaging police."

There have been dozen of backlash articles about it in the news recently. To tell you the truth I'm sick of all the articles talking about freeing Barbie from her packaging prison and how may people went to the hospital because they injured themselves trying to open a plastic clamshell and other esoteric "packaging adventures." These issues about packaging have been beaten to death and then some. And don't forget the blogs. Some of the worst venting about packaging appears on personal blogs under the I've had a bad day column.

The media loves all the negative impressions people are bombarded with about the packaging in the waste stream, landfills etc. I too thought it was much higher (brainwashed that is) but I found out when I was at Cal Poly giving the opening keynote that its only 30% as opposed to the 70-80% the media and packaging detractors would have you believe.

Who are these "packaging police" anyway? What is there mission in life? Don't they know that without a package you can have a product? That's what packaging is all about getting the product safely, securely and intact to the ultimate user in addition to being the product spokes and sales person. So what else is a poor package to do? We have tamper evident, tamperproof, anti- counterfeit, date stamping, TTI's, RFID, sonic welding and other additional security measures all designed to protect the consumer and they don't even know it.

You'd be surprised at the number of people that don't even know about product dating on the package. I can assure you I check. With all the concern over eating healthy, product freshness is an important issue and the package tells it all. I might mention here that I's almost impossible to read the dates in many cases. They are either in obscure locations or the type is so small you need a magnifying glass. (I hope you read "Packaging Your Products to Boomers" available at But seriously, packages that are difficult to open will continue to be a problem as our population ages. Do the words "manual dexterity" ring any bells?

So consumers should just GET OVER IT since they are the main cause why many products are packaged with security in mind. Lets talk about theft, counterfeiting, product integrity and product security. I got an email from Tyrone in South Africa last week. He was giving a speech on packaging innovations that impact our lives and it got me to thinking about all the wonderful and creative packaging innovations in the last 40 years. Packaging that has literally changed our lives.

Some of innovations have come about due to dire threats such as the Tylenol incident. Can you believe that happened 20+ years ago? Think of the whole category of tamper-evident packaging that evolved from this situation. When I speak to students at schools and universities about packaging they have no idea what I am talking about. They just take it for granted.

Retail claims that theft is one their worst problems so packaging that protects products form being stolen is done for a reason. The same thing with counterfeiting, which incidentally is on the rise. Anyone reading about this knows this can and will be a huge issue with the number of packaging products being sourced off shore.

Some additional packaging possibilities that can pose potential "threats."

Green Packaging: Can you validate your claims?
Organic Packaging: Watch out for regulatory agencies.
RFID: Is big brother watching you or are you watching them?
Healthy Packaging Claims: Is It True?
Packaging For Seniors: Can they read or open the packaging? Is it REALLY senior-friendly? Copycat Packaging: A lawsuit waiting to happen and does every week.

So whatever packaging discipline you are in be sure and stay attuned to what are the "Hot button" issues in your field. Prevent the packaging police for setting their sights on you.

Please feel free to use me as a resource when it comes to understanding what packaging markets are hot and what are not. Or what companies are developing the latest in innovative packaging technology.


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