Trevor Bynum, avocational mountain climber and former U.S. Army Captain, brings an unusual combination of abilities to his job as vice president of marketing at WhiteWave Foods, a business unit of Dean Foods Company.
With a total of nine years in brand marketing at General Mills and WhiteWave, Bynum says his marketing mentors, on-the-job observation and personal study have taught him “what works and what does not” vis-à-vis brands and packaging. He adds, “My military experience helps me translate ideas into action and rapidly bring those ideas to market.”
At WhiteWave, bringing ideas to fruition requires not only attending to consumer needs but also making environmental sustainability a priority. Increasingly, those two requirements are intersecting.
“Packaging is not just about what people see and recognize on the shelves when they shop, it’s also about what they do with it when the package is empty,” Bynum says. “We believe consumers make choices based not only on the benefits and attributes of our brands and products but also on the values they share. So we take pride in knowing that we’re creating high-quality products that people love to eat, and we’re doing it in a way that’s helping the environment.”
A recent high-profile packaging project at WhiteWave demonstrates how Bynum and his team are putting the company’s environmental sensibility into practice while addressing consumer needs. The project involved the redesign of WhiteWave’s International Delight coffee creamer package. WhiteWave worked with Product Ventures to redesign the structure of the package.
“From the outset we looked at this as a way of turning a packaging challenge into a product asset,” Bynum says. Although the redesign was initially developed to address key functional limitations of the package, the project soon evolved to focus on two specific objectives: sustainability and customer satisfaction.
Regarding sustainability, “Nationally, plastics are the fastest growing component of municipal solid waste, second only to paper. The International Delight bottle was already made out of recyclable plastic, but the team was challenged to make it even better for the environment,” Bynum says.
And with regard to consumer satisfaction, purchasers had complained about leaking and dripping from the previous package’s closure. The liquid creamer would accumulate in the cap and make a mess when the consumer tried to pour. Another functional problem was the bottle’s instability-it tended to fall over in the refrigerator.
In contrast, the new bottle is very stable and features an ergonomic indentation that makes pouring easy, even if the consumer is standing. The new closure was designed to provide a clean pouring experience and to withstand shaking, which is not necessary but something consumers do habitually. From an aesthetic standpoint, the new package is elegant and sleek; its shapely design evokes European styling.
The new package also is markedly more environmentally friendly than its predecessor. “We look for solutions that are both good for business and the planet. We kept that in mind throughout the development of the new International Delight bottle, and the results speak for themselves. Not only did we create a new package that our consumers love, but we were also able to reduce the carbon footprint of the package by more than 30 percent,” Bynum says.
And his team didn’t stop with the bottle. To reduce the environmental impact of transporting supplies, WhiteWave chose a closure supplier closer to its manufacturing plant, a change that will ultimately save about 31,530 gallons of fuel per year.
Further, the company is now shipping the closures in reusable totes instead of corrugated boxes. This change will eliminate the disposal of 279,720 corrugated cases each year, which is the equivalent of saving 793 trees annually.
“The team really went above and beyond our original expectations, and we’re proud of our end result,” Bynum says. “At WhiteWave Foods, thinking green and making every effort to reduce our environmental footprint is part of our DNA. We’re always looking for opportunities to extend and better our environmental efforts across our entire business chain, including our packaging development. We believe that often those things that are better for the environment also make good business sense.”BP
TITLE: Vice president of marketing at WhiteWave Foods
YEARS IN CURRENT JOB: Three
WHERE OR WHEN DO YOUR BEST IDEAS COME TO YOU?I read, I look, and I listen, and ideas tend to coalesce.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE ULTIMATE BRANDED PACKAGE?Apple’s iPod. I remember buying my first iPod. I was “wowed” by the box containing the iPod and by the design of the product itself. It was slick and intuitive. I realized that there was something to be learned and applied to my food business.
WHAT’S ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND?Innovation to the Core by Peter Skarzynski
Where to go for more information…
Structural design & innovation
Product Ventures (203.319.1119,www.productventures.com)