Package design experts convened for three days in early March for the Packaging Strategies Package Design & Development Conference to talk about the past, present and future of package design. More...

Package design experts convened for three days in early March for the Packaging Strategies Package Design & Development Conference to talk about the past, present, and future of package design. Presenters ranged from managers from consumer packaged goods companies, including Campbell Soup and PepsiCo, to design-firm principals and others.

The tone for the three-day event in Tampa was set by the keynote address from Peter Clarke of Product Ventures.

Coming out of the recession, brands need to realign their core values, Clarke emphasized. He proposed a Circle of Trust centering on five aspects: simplicity, transparency, responsibility, sustainability and affordability. One current trend fitting into simplicity is SKU reduction. “The current number of options is exhausting for consumers,” he said.

Follow-up keynoter Asad Hamid of Campbell Soup observed that consumers are struggling for a sense of normalcy where packaging can provide a reassuring influence (see Neuroscience up, convenience down)

Denise Lefebvre, PepsiCo’s director of advanced research, pointed out that package design is more than the on-shelf experience: versus the brief interaction at the store, packaging can spend 20 minutes during its lifetime in consumer’s hands at home. “Packaging was treated as a commodity,” she said. Today, even the package’s afterlife is important, she noted: “Consumers talk about throwing away the packaging.” She outlined PepsiCo’s four concepts for consumer-focused packaging that:
  • Makes their lives easier.
  • Allows them to control the product experience.
  • Reassures them about product freshness and purity.
  • Enriches their product experience.
  • Packaging as a social statement

    Stuart Leslie of 4sight Inc. shared insights from several case studies, including the firm’s successful gum revision for Wrigley’s 5 brand. “The package created a social statement for consumers, like carrying a cell phone,” he explained. Retailing for $1.99, the product created such impact that Wrigley could raise its regular stick gum packs from 99 cents to $1.39, he added. “You don’t have to cut costs, you need to minimize them,” Leslie suggested.

    Jack Gordon of AcuPoll Research underscored a theme that cropped up regularly throughout the event: the advantages of the e-factor, or emotional appeal of packaging, that a good design can provide. One example was the historical metamorphosis of Lipton tea packaging from can to glass to plastic and back to glass, to regain the quality impression that glass imparts.

    Attendees were educated about the interaction of consumers with products and packages via cell phones and bar codes by David Javitch of Scanbuy. In the U.S. today, 100 million people are capable of scanning bar codes with their mobile devices. 2-D bar codes can launch any mobile action-and usage data can be tracked, Javitch added. Consumers aged 18-34 comprise the primary audience for this type of interactive packaging use.

    The Packaging Design and Development Conference was managed by Packaging Strategies, a BNP Media sister publication of Food & Beverage Packaging.