Packaging plays an important role in ensuring that a product measures up to its brand promise. Most importantly, it must protect the product on every level to ensure a positive consumer experience and build brand loyalty. This means making package design decisions that keep the product intact and safe without compromising sustainability and aesthetics. Preserving product safety and integrity also extends to supply chain security. Once a brand is built, companies must take measures to ensure counterfeiters do not compromise its reputation. This can seem like a tall order for consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs). However, suppliers of packaging equipment, materials, containers, labels and other technologies are stepping up to the plate with a wide range of solutions.
Ask the Right Questions
When creating a package that aligns with and expresses a brand promise, companies must consider several factors. Are they designing for an organic product that requires added barrier protection in the absence of preservatives? Do they want to communicate their commitment to environmental responsibility with a package that consumers will immediately recognize as recyclable? How will they break the mold within their product category to catch shoppers’ attention and showcase originality?
Select the Right Solutions
The answer to these questions may lead designers down the path of some multi-tasking materials and containers. For example, many manufacturers are turning to plastics to create packages that are both uniquely shaped and recyclable. According to PMMI’s 2016 infographic, “Breaking Down Sustainable Packaging,” PET bottles have become the leading container of choice for consumers, in part because of their recyclability. Thermoforming, injection molding or blow molding can create original shapes that support an iconic brand image. Of course, other materials such as glass, metal and paperboard are also recyclable and can also be fashioned into unusual shapes.
Flexible packaging in the forming of bags and pouches provides another multi-tasking solution. The lightweight properties of pouches encourage savings on carbon dioxide emissions in shipping, and the addition of UV protection or oxygen absorbent properties can better preserve organic products. In last year’s PMMI’s Food Packaging Trends Report, respondents note the use of plastic bags and pouches has grown 3.5% since 2012.
Of course, packaging should never sacrifice functionality in the name of aesthetics and sustainability. Brand owners must ensure that, when lightweighting material or creating a unique shape, they are not reducing the durability of the package or minimizing shelf life. Materials and containers should always be sturdy enough to withstand the elements of the supply chain and protect the product from the damages of light, oxygen, external contaminants and, to some degree, temperature changes.
Protect the Investment
Once a company has invested its time and resources in creating a package that is true to the brand promise while protecting product integrity, it must protect that investment from counterfeiters. In fact, PMMI’s 2016 Brand Protection and Product Traceability Market Research Report noted that counterfeiting is predicted to increase three percent per year worldwide, and the current global value of counterfeit goods stands at $1.5 trillion. Collectively, these challenges make up one tall order for manufactures to package their products in a way that protects both their brand promise and product integrity.
Today’s complex supply chain presents multiple points of vulnerability for many products, but foods and healthcare products are particularly susceptible to adulteration just before reaching consumers. This is especially true in less-developed countries.
No one technology will solve all of these challenges. However, a wide range of solutions can help brands track and verify their products. These include holograms and covert techniques like RFID (radio frequency identification) that require specific equipment to test product authenticity. Other sophisticated technologies to enhance brand security include smart inks, covert markings and temp sensors. Temp sensors are thermally sensitive resistors that can communicate whether a product has spoiled or been exposed to temperatures outside of an acceptable range—all potential indicators that product integrity has been jeopardized.
Find the Right Suppliers
Designing a package that accurately conveys a brand promise while protecting the integrity of its contents in today’s complex supply chain is no easy feat. For East Coast brand owners navigating this design process, PACK EXPO East 2017 (Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia; Feb. 27 -March 1) will serve as a resource for insights and solutions. The show will bring together 400 top packaging technology suppliers for healthcare, food, beverage, cosmetic and personal care, chemical and household and other packaged goods, serving companies of all sizes. Attendees will see a wide range of packaging equipment, materials, containers, labeling, track and trace and other technologies right in their back yard, providing convenient access to the technologies necessary to create a positive consumer experience again and again.
PACK EXPO East will also provide free education on the show floor through the Innovation Stage, a series of 30-minute seminars throughout the day on breakthrough technologies, innovative applications and proven techniques. Additionally, the event also offers the Healthcare Packaging and Processing Conference presenting a number of sessions addressing anti-counterfeiting, serialization, holistic approaches to package design and various materials, including glass, plastics, elastomers and metal.
For more information, the schedule or to register, visit www.packexpoeast.com.