Haven’t we met before?

September 4, 2014 Leave a comment

3_phonesWhile shopping recently in a big chain retail store I noticed something peculiar. I viewed 3 different prepay phones and saw that the packaging was all very similar. Now the shapes and colors may have varied but the functions were all the same. Whether the product was in a clam or a box they all allowed you to see the product and they incorporated a flap that when opened, showed more information regarding rates and pricing.

I can understand that consumers want to get as much information about these products before purchasing and the carriers want to gain an ever increasing market share to lead the pack. I did feel a bit of disappointment since the packaging was all so similar. The other constant I found was that the “flaps of information” had a tendency to bend and tear after consumers opened and closed them a few times. This defeats sales as consumers don’t buy the damaged looking package (even though the product is fine). The packaging also is designed to work harder at preventing theft and most of these phone packages are now locked on the rack making the experience less joyful.

I have a hard time wanting to buy a product when the packaging looks so similar to all the competitors package. It gives me the impression that the product is no different than the next one. Most likely this is the case and price is what makes the difference.

So what was a valued shopping experience a few years ago has now turned into just another task and another commodity we buy as needed. Seems a shame but that’s progress.

Categories: Uncategorized

Pass me the cereal please

July 21, 2014 Leave a comment

cereal1For at least the past 50 years breakfast cereal has come in boxes similar to the ones at left. They have been colorful and work to attract target consumers (most of them being children). On the boxes were games and information that helped to hold one’s interest while consuming the product and desiring more. As a child I went through my share of Frosted Flakes, Cheerios, Post Toasties and the rest. Some time I was interested in a prize that was in the box or a story or puzzle that was on the back side. Other times I focused on the flavor of the cereal. Any sugar frosted flavor was popular for quite some time. Relating to characters such as Tony the Tiger or Toucan Sam was always a tough choice and Captain Crunch fought for space on my breakfast table with the best of them. So if you haven’t realized by now, the packaging played a major role in the purchase of cereal in our home. I also recall that the lure of some of these cereal packages was so strong that we bought certain brands at times without really eating much of the product.FBP0713_Materials-QA_InBody

After time the boxes changed and some have converted into pouch form. I have tried healthier brands of cereal and even some that now come in pouch form. And I do look at the packaging to see what it offers. Zipper locks and messages about health are more front and center. Flavor does play a role in my cereal purchase but I don’t find the strong pull to the ones of my childhood and I don’t crave for any “comfort” cereal bringing back memories of days gone by. It is interesting to see how much of a role this product has played in our lives.


alien1This last picture is from the first “Alien” movie. Although this was a pivotal scene in the movie, I placed it in this post to note the packaging for the cereal. If you look closely, you will see the cereal on the table comes in plastic containers with no advertising or brand recognition. Everything in the picture appears sterile and boring. I can’t imagine space travel being exciting at all if you can’t even get an interesting box of cereal to enjoy.

At CTI, we manage packaging in many forms including cereal. Check us out at www.ctipack.com

Categories: Uncategorized

Does Your Package Act As A Reflection Of Your Brand?

June 26, 2014 Leave a comment

pkg_shapesIn looking at a package, I see a connection. At times the connection is directly to me and my persona. Other times to price points I may or may not be seeking at the time. And then I see connections to the product’s brand. It can be made through color, shapes and graphics. Here I have seven products in their packaging and I see the connection.

Most of these are iconic and are specific to a particular brand. They took time to build their presence in the industry and really sell their brand story. If I go to buy some hot sauce then Tabasco is what I get. The diamond label in the red bottle makes for a quick identification in my mind when looking for it. We know what the light blue box with a white ribbon and bow mean. There must be something wonderful inside from Tiffany’s and imagine the excitement level as it gets opened. Coca Cola – enough said about this bottle and product world-wide. Chanel No. 5 is timeless and high tier. Mrs. Butterworth’s brings back memories of a  Saturday morning breakfast on a crisp autumn morning. There is an endless stream of these connections.

Now look at the honey bear bottle. The shape and contents say honey. This bottle is also available to anyone wishing to sell honey under their label. It is not brand specific. Interesting concept if you need to get a quick connection to your artisanal honey batch. And finally there is the Jawbone package. Inside is a Bluetooth headset that blasted into the market with great results. The product design was unique as well as the package. Look at the floating object. For a number of years numerous headset manufacturers wanted this style of packaging for their product. Grabbing the shape was the route taken to make a connection to consumers and help boost sales. Some even sought using less expensive material for the packaging to keep pricing down and profits up.

Consumers are wise and understand the copycat strategy. If they buy the product the realization of what is being sold is understood. However, did the package help make the sale? Was the connection to Jawbone’s brand equity transferred? Maybe.

When we meet with clients and discuss new packaging, the shape comes into play very early. We ask if they want to lead with their product or follow the competition. Copying shapes or riding on the equity of a shape brings risks. Specifying goals help to eliminate those risks and we work to get that understood and acted upon. So when you shop, take a close look at the shape of the package, the colors and the graphics. See if they make the connection you want.

Learn more at http://www.ctipack.com

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Artisanal vs. the Little Guy

June 18, 2014 Leave a comment

Oregon-Artisan-Cheese-BoxRecently I was shopping in the cheese section at a local grocery and noticed some big name brands, some artisanal selections and then the little guy brands. You know those products as the packaging is some very basic plastic wrap with a minimalistic label on the front. It shows a company name, brief product description (Real Cheddar Cheese) and maybe a P.O Box or town of origin. If there are any graphics you may see an outline of a cow if you’re lucky.

The illustration at left is for a growing product category which fills the limited production, higher priced tier that offers a perceived better taste experience. You find nice detailed and authentic looking graphics that back the brand’s look and feel. You really want to try this one. I bought one artisanal cheese based on some convincing graphics and packaging and one of the little guy brand. The test came when I put both out on a plate and blind taste tested them. Guess what happened? The artisanal brand tasted better. Now the little guy cheese was also very good but just shy of the other one. Never fear as this doesn’t always happen. I don’t always buy the artisanal brand. Why? Cost plays a factor and locale. If I know the little guy is local and the artisanal isn’t, I go local. That’s just me though.

Remember, the little guy did include a location of origin on his package and that was the tipping point, Now this example doesn’t always hold true in every product offering out on the market but I do find myself studying the packaging a bit more closely when it comes to big brands, artisanal and the little guy.

What brand would you buy?

Read more at http://www.ctipack.com

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Tea For You!

June 11, 2014 Leave a comment

Oprah1Yesterday a team from our office met with a client at a Starbucks to review some recent work and brainstorm on upcoming projects. Things went well and we accomplished quite a bit. While there, I spent some time looking at the packaging. Who doesn’t like to see what Starbucks offerings are available? There’s an array of bean selections to study, mugs of various shapes and sizes, posters displaying images from around the world and even new and exciting tea flavors and packages.

Tea? Yes tea. All kinds of tea. And if you have been in a Starbucks lately you’ve seen the new Oprah Chai Tea. Having not tried it, I cannot judge it, but from what I see this looks like a win-win situation for Starbucks and Oprah. Both brands expand their offerings and the consumer gets a new product to try in the tea market. But what makes you buy this, or shall I say, what makes you want to buy this? Is it Starbucks? Is it Oprah? The packaging? Or just the tea? I would venture to say that a combination of all four come into play at various levels.

I enjoy stopping in at Starbucks for the experience. Also, I like the look of the packaging. I can’t say I’m a big fan of Oprah but she doesn’t make me not want to purchase the product. Tea is good but I rarely drink it.

What are your thoughts on this?

Read more at http://www.ctipack.com

Categories: Uncategorized

Even if…

wine_packageI was reading about new package design today and came across this one in the wine pouch arena. With all the new innovations in the marketplace for wine packaging (non-cork bottle plugs, screw tops, and box wines) I found this one to be an eye catcher. I was attracted by the elegant wine bottle with the gloss and matte finishes and the flat, rectangular shape surrounding it. As the package is gripped, one sees the illusion of the rigid looking bottle deflates while it becomes flexible to the touch.

Although the package drew my attention, I wondered if this would actually replace the actual glass bottle we have been accustomed to for so many years. I began to wonder if I would ever buy wine in such a package on a regular basis or only once as a lark? Does this take up considerably more shelf shape and therefore become rejected by the retailers? What happens if I drop it? Will it taste as good as wine in a glass bottle? And finally, how goofy will it look next to others I may display at home?

With all that said, I began to wonder even more and thought, “even if I bought this, would I serve it?” Would you?

CTI is a full service packaging firm and to learn more about us, check us out at http://www.ctipack.com

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Taking Time Out To Help Others

At Combined Technologies we find time to assist those in need through community service. Recently, our Dallas / Ft. Worth office, headed up by Tod Ramirez, spent the day working with Habitat For Humanity. Founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller, Habitat for Humanity International has built more than 500,000 quality, affordable homes and has served over 2.5 million people worldwide.

Tod and his wife Tracie give back to the community with a sense of pride and spent the day working with others to help out. While the day progressed they discovered a sense of connection to less fortunate people and what it means to assist those who are in real need of a place to call home.

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Crew working on a home with Habitat For Humanity

Habitat for Humanity volunteers, working hand-in-hand with the families they serve, build quality, affordable homes using donations of money and materials. Partner families, as our homebuyers are known, invest hundreds of hours of sweat equity in the construction of their homes. Once completed, they buy their homes, making monthly payments on an interest-free mortgage. Their house payments revolve back into Habitat’s work; a dollar invested in Habitat is a buck that never stops — it just keeps building.

With more than 1,500 U.S. affiliates and 550 international affiliates coordinating Habitat house-building projects in over 3,000 communities around the world, Habitat has attracted millions of volunteers, from U.S. presidents to such celebrities as Cher, Reba McIntire and Oprah, to name a few.

Fort Worth Area Habitat for Humanity, Inc. was founded in 1989 as an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, serving Fort Worth and Tarrant County. In 2006, the name was changed to Trinity Habitat for Humanity to include the four counties we now serve. Having grown from a handful of dedicated founders into a volunteer corps of thousands, today Trinity Habitat for Humanity is ranked #20 out of 1,571 Habitat affiliates in the nation in new home production.

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Tod and Tracie Ramirez


Trinity Habitat for Humanity builds and rehabs homes in Johnson, Parker, Tarrant and Wise Counties.

When the day finished, both Tod and Tracie garnered a stronger understanding of a community effort and felt a sense of accomplishment. They are looking forward to helping again in such a worthwhile cause.

Combined Technologies is proud of their effort and commends them for their giving to their community.


Learn more about Combined Technologies at http://www.ctipack.com.

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