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Packaging Innovation

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Packaging innovation seeks to increase resource efficiency, eliminate the production of waste and reduce environmental impact through improved design and use of alternative materials.

In a sea of look-a-likes, the packaging challenge for companies is to bring to the market new and improved product concepts where the packaging does more than simply contain and protect the contents. Packaging must do more - it must add to the value-proposition of the purchase by offering new levels of functionality that result in real consumer benefits.

Real packaging innovation is crucial to the future of packaged goods, with user convenience being a key need. Smart packaging concepts are predicted to be commonplace features in the future.

Packaging innovation is all about trying to gain differentiation through truly novel packs that enhance products and therefore make them more appealing to the consumer. New product development through packaging innovation is the life blood of the FMCG sector. Research in the field of materials and devices presents limitless opportunities to innovate with packaging. For example, with the availability of technologies allowing the tailoring of material structure at the nanoscale, the next generation of packs will be 'intelligent' ones. Materials science will also become more and more important to packaging as we continue to look for ways of making packaging materials sustainable yet functional.

In order to be truly effective, packaging has to literally deliver the heart and soul of the brand in a way that forges strong, emotive connections with the consumer. The days of delivering a hierarchy of features and benefits on packaging in a dry manner, sans emotion, are over.

Before developing any package for a new branded product or a repackaged product, research has to be done to uncover the underlying brand's core attributes. Research is conducted in a number of phases, and one very important research element is not only about unearthing corporate brand values but also consumer brand perceptions, since the two should be, but are not always in complete alignment.

Research is always conducted in the pre-packaging phase, of course. But shifts have occurred in recent years because of our evolution in understanding about the consumer, as well as our desire to better quantify packaging's delivery on core brand assets.

Packaging Innovation is the Key
Packaging innovation is so important because it is a key differentiator, not just for communicating brand identity, but also for how the product is consumed. Whether it be for: Once a product's packaging resonates with consumers, it can be the most efficient way for the product to be delivered.

Another important role of packaging is meeting various labeling requirements in different countries. In food and beverage, for example, there are new requirements around allergens, country of origin labels, classification of ingredients, requirements around food supplements, etc.

Central to complying with globally changing requirements and managing quality and label standards is a fundamental understanding of what the product is made of. And that is the core of PLM - providing complete control and visibility of all product data and processes.

A.G. Lafley was recently quoted as saying, "You do what you do best and can do world-class". P&G's model of focusing on core capabilities is one that many consumer goods companies are beginning to follow. In regards to product innovation, how should companies strategically outsource non-core capabilities?

The demarcation of core and non-core capabilities will be different for each brand company. There is a trend towards outsourced filling and packaging because many brand companies do not consider it a core capability. Where the line falls often depends on how a company defines its brand. Like many other industries, outsourcing is not just for non-core capabilities. For example, GOJO, which manufactures the brand Purell, has a licensing agreement with Pfizer, which markets the anti-bacterial hand sanitizing product in many parts of the world.

The consumer electronics side has been outsourcing many core and non-core capabilities for some time and is much farther ahead with this. For example, the Apple iPod was designed and driven by Apple, and production was a multi-company collaboration. The core of the iPod's design was done by Apple. Many components of the design was done by a Taiwanese company based on specifications provided by Apple. So while the core of Apple (no pun intended) is still design, it is able to outsource subparts when appropriate.

Another good example is how Crest and Philips Oral Health care developed and launched a product that that combines Crest toothpaste and the Sonicare toothbrush. All of this requires inter-organizational communication around product data. How important is it for companies to collaborate internally to ensure that they are delivering products to market faster? Collaboration in itself is important, but early visibility among key stakeholders is what drives early time-to-market. By providing insight earlier on product cost structure, quality and compliance requirements, companies can launch better products faster to market and at target cost.

Early visibility is not easily achieved if structurally, companies operate with technologies housed on desktop computers or silo-based organizations. PLM provides such visibility by creating an environment where there is one central repository for product information available to stakeholders that have a part to play in the product lifecycle. With portfolio and program management tools that help with work flows, processes can be put in place enabling people to meet their goals.

For companies that consider innovation as key, effective collaboration across product design centers in globally dispersed locations is important. With real-time access to product data and consistent global processes for product development, Bell Sports, for example, is able to introduce market leading sporting gear consistently.

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