How To Avoid Costly Packaging Mistakes
April 23, 2009 · Print This Article
You invest so much time and money in product development, why not invest a little more and protect yourself from making a bad packaging mistake? It is easy to make a packaging error that comes back to haunt you after you have packaged the product and sent it on its way to the retailer’s shelf.
We think about bad packaging when they hit the news. For example “Ecoli Outbreak Attributed to Packaging.” Packaging that on the surface seems like a good idea but then backfires due to some unforeseen circumstance that takes place. Why wait until it becomes an issue?
Wolfgang Puck found out about “bad” packaging the hard way when his new self heating latte cans hit the retailer shelf and started exploding. Was it his fault? Probably not, but the words “Product Recall” were shouted from the isles.
“Fabuloso” experienced a similar problem when it designed the packaging for its cleaning products to look like soda or beverage bottles. Children confused the “fabulous” colors with the real thing. A few poisonings later they realized they had made a huge mistake.
All packaging problems certainly don’t rise to the level of these two examples. A problem can be something of minor significance. Nonetheless, it is a problem and in many cases can be avoided or at the very least modified or anticipated. You would be surprised at how many people contact me knowing in advance that their packaging may have a problem yet they never do anything about it. Perhaps they will be the next big news story.
In any case, there are ways to foresee potentially “bad” packaging situations. A little forward thinking may alleviate impending problems. Here are some common questions that could pave the way to avoiding potential packaging problems:
Should I put my product in a plastic clamshell? The number one contested “packaging” issue revolves around the plastic clamshell and how difficult it is to open or penetrate without causing bodily harm. Can you anticipate this problem? You bet. Weigh your options when considering this type of packaging. Even with your best effort to make the clamshell easy to open, you may end up as an “Oyster Award” candidate and be labeled as one of the most difficult packages to open.
What is “green” packaging and how can I incorporate it into my packaging design? Whether to use green packaging or not should not be the question. What you should be asking is does utilizing environmentally friendly packaging materials make sense for my product?
Am I going green legitimately or just jumping on the “green” bandwagon to make a buck? Will I be mandated to use “green” packaging materials by retailers? What other options can I consider that aren’t “green?” You really need to take some time to analyze these and other questions before you advance your packaging development in the wrong direction.
My packaging is working now should I change it to new and improved or give it a packaging makeover? Remember my negative packaging trend for 07. Don’t fix it, if it ain’t broken. Consumers hate change. When they go to look for their trusted brand on the retailer’s shelf, you want to ensure they recognize your product easily. If they don’t, they may be forced to buy from the competition. Keep packaging consistency and continuity to make it easy for consumers to buy from you.
Who regulates what needs to be on my product packaging? The answer is just about everyone. Outside of the various regulatory agencies that tell you what can and must be placed on your product packaging you could be mandated by a plethora out outside influences. Here are a few examples.
Going Green? Better listen to what Wal-Mart has to say with their “Packaging Scorecard.”
Trading in the organic space? Better understand what the work organic means to your product and who is watching out looking for a mislabeled package or a claim that can’t be validated.
Making weight loss claims or dietary claims on your product packaging? Just about every one will be on your case. These claims are heavily scrutinized, not just by regulatory agencies but by consumers too. They are taking charge of their own well being. They “can” and will read them.
Pay attention to these common packaging questions to which many companies don’t find adequate answers before they embark on their product packaging. By doing so, you may anticipate potential packaging problems that could result in packaging problems. Do your homework. Use a little common sense and think about packaging issues relative to your product. Consider what you can do to avoid potential pitfalls before it’s too late.
About the Author:
JoAnn Hines is the Chief Executive Officer at J.R. Hines International, a firm providing consulting services in the packaging industry. For over 30 years, Ms. Hines has been engaged in packaging trends, forecasting, ideation/brainstorming and implementing innovative new packaging technologies.
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