Chief Packaging Officer | Insight for packaging leaders
Chief Packaging Officer provides news, resources and original content to help packaging leaders elevate the debate about packaging and stay ahead of trends. The latest packaging news, interviews with industry experts and visionary thought leadership for the packaging executive.
Ever wonder how many packaging changes a global candy, food and pet care company like Mars makes a year? 9,000. Yes, Mars makes 9,000 changes per year and estimates one packaging change per hour, meaning there’s plenty of collaboration across departments but also plenty of room for errors.
Mars was frustrated because they frequently encountered packaging changes, multiple emails, rounds of approvals and lost files.
According to Mars’ Packaging Graphics Project Manager, Ebbe van EssVeldt, “Before WebCenter, we were struggling with process – there was no clear visibility, projects would get stuck, and we encountered failed deadlines.”
The packaging graphics team was looking for a packaging artwork management solution that would make it easy to track project status, gain approvals quickly and provide a central place that held all their KPIs.
Learn in this video how Esko’s digital packaging software, WebCenter helped MARS with visibility, collaboration, and overall project management.
Packaging artwork management has never been simpler at Mars - YouTube
A version of this article originally appeared on Chief Martec on March 16th, 2018.
We talk about digitizing everything, but if you’re a marketer at a consumer goods company, you know there is a divide between digital marketing channels and product packaging.
As evidence of this divide, marvel at this difference in perceived vs. actual production time:
The CMO Council found that 77 percent of marketing leaders think it takes 90 days or less to make a packaging change or other physical change. But when InfoTrends asked packaging professionals, they reported that changes take an average of 6.6 months (about 198 days).
And then behold this difference in expectations between marketers and consumers:
Marketing leaders would like to make packaging changes with 30 days of lead time according to the CMO Council. Consumers have a very different perspective. According to a poll on their expectations, consumers don’t understand why packaging changes and other physical media can’t be made in one day.
Yes, you read that correctly. The current state is 198 days; consumer expectations are 1 day.
Marketers don’t seem to have much awareness of what goes on behind the black curtain separating them from the packaging department, and therein lies a significant opportunity. Digitizing packaging can help close this gap in expectations and actuals and also realign communications. Here’s why it’s important:
Packaging changes are taking 198x longer than consumers expect (see above).
For marketing to become more relevant and effective, the product and efforts to market it need to become more closely entwined.
When your product is physical, as for consumer packaged goods companies, digitizing product packaging is one way to keep digital channels aligned with the physical product.
But, digitizing packaging? What does that even mean?
Look at it this way: when a company creates brand packaging, more than fifty little bits of information are gathered from all over the organization such as ingredients and net weight from R&D, material specifications from packaging engineers, color specifications from design, brand logos and romance copy from brand management, copyright from legal, nutrition facts and symbols from regulatory, to name a few. Much of this information is gathered as content, frozen in a picture file as the package design (mechanical files to get technical) and then sent off to a printer or converter, who manufactures the packaging.
The manner in which this critical product information is gathered and the extent to which it is shared can vary widely from brand to brand, from CPG company to CPG company. But all have one thing in common: the process and the content can be digitized to achieve efficiencies, automation, improved quality, and scalability.
If the information is important enough to be included on the precious real estate of the package, then it is valuable for selling purposes. This means the same sale-inducing information needs to be available to sales channels, including online retailers and a brand’s own e-commerce or direct-to-consumer channels, at a minimum.
Many brand marketers manage packaging at an arm’s length through a separate silo in their organization, but the benefits of reaching across the marketing/packaging divide are quite compelling.
What if brand images online could always match the actual packaging because there was a living link between packaging files and e-commerce?
What if brands could automate what are now very tedious tasks in artwork creation to allow localized packaging iterations for regions and line extensions?
What if we could be certain the allergens on the packaging were true because no human had re-keyed it after R&D approved it (the veracity of the data was absolutely preserved)?
What if brand marketers could be certain that the color and material specifications distributed to all 50 packaging suppliers around the world were produced faithfully, within the tolerance the brand requires because the empirical data fed back from the supply chain partners proved it?
What if packaging changes were more responsive, taking only 10 days instead of 198?
These are all realities that can be attained when packaging is digital. But how can you integrate the physical and digital together? Where would you even start?
Using the Digital Maturity Model for Brand Packaging, brand marketing leaders can establish a vision for digitizing packaging, develop their packaging tech stack, connect packaging to the digital supply chain and realign the product with marketing. This graphic notes the changes in organizational maturity along fourteen dimensions that have been identified and categorized into three groups:
Leadership concerns track the levers and advantages the business leaders are most interested in: Executive Mentality, Visibility & Connectivity, Risk Management, Cost Position, Quality Standards, and Responsiveness.
Process architecture is the infrastructure that supports the team’s day to day functions in terms of Briefs & Specifications, how they exert Control Over the Process, what kinds of Tools they use, and how they Measure Results.
Delivery capabilities are the specific components of producing packaging that must be controlled in the value chain: Structure & 3D, Graphics (2D), Color, and Content (or words and information and symbols).
These groups of dimensions combine to describe five levels of digital maturity for brand packaging, from Reactive to Intelligent.
If you read one maturity level vertically, you will formulate a picture of the different perspectives within the company from top to bottom, starting with executive management’s attitudes and concerns at the top, team managers’ process and communication prerogatives in the middle, and then the technical specialists’ considerations for delivering packaging to market.
It’s easy to see that digital capabilities evolve and become more valuable as you follow the line of one dimension across the maturity model from left to right. For instance, as a brand organization develops more and more digital capabilities in packaging, the scope of visibility over what is happening in the packaging process broadens from a single desk to across departments, to across suppliers and partners and even through to consumers and retail customers. This visibility is not possible at scale without digital tools embedded in the value chain.
Using this maturity model, brand marketers can spark conversations among cross-functional teams to determine which capability level best describes their organization. Which dimensions are outliers, lagging far behind the others? They can investigate what technologies comprise their packaging tech stack, how deep into the value chain their stack penetrates, and the benefits that await them if they are to gain further digital capabilities.
This framework also provides a language for teams to use to align their efforts and work toward common goals and a vibrant future state. Given the disconnects between marketing and packaging, this kind of common vision and language is sorely needed.
Remember, packaging is of primary importance for consumer goods companies. Consumers connect differently with packaging than other marketing vehicles. Packaging is owned media. Packaging often IS the product — indistinguishable from the consumer’s perspective. Packaging is the first impression of quality for the brand.
Let’s digitize packaging and enjoy all the benefits of control and analysis and visibility that martech affords us. Who knows, maybe one day Scott Brinker will add a “packaging” section to his marketing technology landscape?
To learn more about the Digital Maturity Model for Brand Packaging, download it here.
A seismic shift is about to take effect in the consumer goods marketplace, and companies who stay ahead of the curve are going to gain a significant advantage. In response to increased consumer interest in product ingredients, many of the leading food, beverage, and consumer product companies have already started to adopt a new method of sharing relevant product information: the SmartLabel Transparency Initiative. From company to retailer, to consumer, there are many potential upsides to offering product transparency, and every consumer goods company or retailer should seriously consider participating.
The SmartLabel Transparency Initiative is led by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA). SmartLabel is a simple, yet effective way to share a detailed list of ingredients and product attributes and thereby increase consumer trust. Top consumer brands such as PepsiCo, J.M. Smucker, Unilever, and Nestlé have already created SmartLabels and incorporated them into consumer packaging. In fact, many companies are realizing in order to survive, it’s becoming increasingly important to make their product information more transparent to the consumer. Why? Because voluntary transparency not only builds consumer trust but indicates a good faith effort to adhere to government regulations.
How do SmartLabels work?
Until now, the product package structure, substrate, and size have confined the amount of product information that can be shared with a consumer. However, smartphones have changed these limitations. Today, any shopper in a brick-and-mortar store interested in learning more details about a product’s attributes can scan a SmartLabel QR code on a mobile device. The shopper will instantly access a SmartLabel landing page that lists additional details about the product, including manufacturing location or ingredient origin, as well as any updated claims or warnings. These product web pages will also be accessible to consumers via web search. SmartLabels will be especially helpful for consumers interested in whether the product they are considering contains allergens, ingredients that may be harmful to animals, ingredients that are environmentally unfriendly, or even genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Consumers will also have access to a product’s positive attributes, like how much fiber it contains or what percentage of daily vitamins it has. In short, consumers can protect themselves against ingredients that might be harmful or a poor fit for their lifestyle choices or dietary restrictions, and they can also make informed, health-enhancing decisions by researching the most nutritious products available.
There is a marked increase in changes to regulations on the way in which ingredients are disseminated to consumers, for example, the introduction of GMO legislation in the United States and Europe. This means the benefits are higher now than perhaps ever for brands using a communication method like SmartLabel to keep marketing claims up to date and product information transparent for consumers.
How can I get started with SmartLabel?
Most companies already have the necessary data for SmartLabel, but it’s in the formulation lab, on the package or on someone’s laptop. With access to the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN), this information can be shared with consumers worldwide. Aligning with leading CPG companies by implementing SmartLabel on your products is exceptionally easy to do for BLUE users. BLUE has active partnerships with 1WorldSync, the leading data provider to the GDSN, and Label Insight, the FDA’s source for verifying ingredient claims. These partnerships enable BLUE customers to easily and confidently share their approved product information, to automatically generate SmartLabels and publish them to online retailers or e-commerce platforms.
How exactly do BLUE and its partners help you with SmartLabel execution?
Throughout the label and artwork workflow in BLUE, a product’s information is reviewed, changed, finalized and stored. Therefore, when creating SmartLabels, there is no need to re-review or route information to another department. The information already exists in BLUE and is approved for use. When using BLUE connected with Label Insight or 1WorldSync, brands simply create SmartLabels as an additional step in their end-to-end workflow.
Allowing you a quick and easy way to join the SmartLabel initiative is just one more way using BLUE helps you build healthy relationships between your brands and your consumers. BLUE has a team of experts that can help you navigate the complexities of implementing the SmartLabel process in the best, most cost-efficient way.
Over the last 10 years, consumers have grown increasingly comfortable buying things online. As we continue moving further into the future, many watchers of the grocery industry believe that this trend will spill over into how we get our food.
There are several reasons why the online grocery business is booming. For starters, we all value convenience. Increased interest in sustainability, improved technology and the desire for personalization are also contributing to the industry’s growth.
In the past, when food or beverage manufacturers wanted to sell products, they’d need to secure shelf space at a supermarket.
Thanks to the internet, that’s no longer the case. Brands are increasingly selling products directly to consumers exclusively via the internet—increasing their desirability, as consumers are drawn to personalized online experiences.
The growth of the online grocery market, however, is not without its challenges. Buying things online can be tricky because shoppers aren’t able to physically inspect what they’re purchasing.
To solve this problem, more and more brands are turning to smart packaging and augmented reality solutions. For more, head over to Beverage Daily.
In 2017, the global biodegradable packaging market stood at $287.3 million. By 2023, it’s expected the market will expand to $429.2 million, boasting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.92% over the next five years, according to a new report from ResearchAndMarkets.
Growth in this sector is driven by two main causes, the report revealed:
Increasing government regulations, which force manufacturers to search for more environmentally friendly packaging solutions
A change in consumer preferences, as more and more consumers support brands that do their part to minimize their impact on the environment
According to the report, there are also two main restraints that are preventing the market from growing even faster:
The growth and advancement in biodegradable paper and plastics, as manufacturers can’t use packaging solutions that haven’t yet been invented
Higher costs, which increase prices while lowering margins—something most manufacturers would do anything to avoid