Last week I had the honor to participate in the AmeriStar Packaging Awards in the role of judge. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity of judging package designs in the Student Category and I must say I was impressed. When we work in package design we consider numerous points and cover a lot of details. The result may appear to some as just a “pretty graphic” solution or as some would phrase it, “a very clever idea”. Back when I was in school a friend of mine told me how envious he was of me because I got to sit around all day and draw pictures and listen to music. I’m sure that description, or some form of it, still gets put out there today to students by their friends, but we know better. When we studied all the core classes that came with design we pushed to sneak into working studios to see first hand how it all came together. We were anxious and studied with high expectations. That hasn’t changed but the amount of knowledge acquired by design students today far surpasses what I remember from years past.
When I viewed the entries I first read through the design brief that posed the problem (or challenge) at hand. After reading it, I reviewed the design solution. The visuals varied in degrees of both presentation and conceptualization. As I found the solutions interesting I was more impressed with the amount of data the students provided that justified (or led them to) their solutions. Issues about construction, material, manufacturing, prototypes,recycling, sustainability, logistics and price points were common throughout the entries and actually a pleasure to see. Now these area of design may seem boring to some but they are extremely key elements in the design process of packaging.
So after reviewing the submissions I cast my votes knowing that solutions for packages in the future were in good hands. And I also look forward to both seeing those solutions and hoping to be a part of them, working with these students when they become professionals. Good work.
At CTI, we’re always looking at packaging problems as opportunities and regularly seek partners to work with us.
Chuck Miller, www.ctipack.com
I came across this recent article in the BBC about retro packaging stating the following:
“A new trend in Portugal is seeing shopkeepers stock their shelves with products and packaging which deliberately hark back to the designs of previous decades. Toys, perfumes and foods with a vintage look are proving particularly popular with tourists and are helping revive the country’s flagging economy.”
I’ve seen quite a bit of retro packaging here in the U.S. and after reading this brief article I began to wonder if the retro look really helps in sales or if it just briefly disrupts the consumer into purchasing products. I think the bigger question is wondering if this pulls in long-term consumer loyalty.
As memories can be triggered back to more pleasant times, does this effort really raise sales? Today, as I see more and more of the retro look, I notice that it is being used with new companies and their product offerings. With that said, what will be their look when they revert in the future to their retro look? Is a retro look just a style fad or a bona fide and viable tool?
Chuck Miller http://www.ctipack.com
A recurring question I discuss with clients now is about what they should tell their consumers when it comes to their packaging. Do they claim that their package is now recyclable and environment friendly? Is the sustainability factor something they want to plaster on their package to brag about? If the package is compostable should they state it?
Sometimes confusion sets in as the brief states that the issue of sustainability needs to be addressed but do we tell the consumer it is happening and results in a package that is better for the environment? Will the consumer find the product and manufacturer more favorable? Does brand loyalty rise when this happens? What if the consumers don’t get told of the efforts made to create such a package?
Every brand is different as is every package. We address the goals and concerns with our clients as the degree of communication this information varies. Some express the issue in a more outwardly manner than others and our job as package designers is to assist our clients in expressing their message the best way possible.
So look closely at the package and see just how much information about the package is being expressed next time you’re in the store.
The other day I was with my wife as she was out shopping for a new cell phone. After she made her choice, two things caught my attention. The first was when the clerk assisting her was setting up the phone. My wife opened the package to look for instructions and while doing so, she commented on the design. She exclaimed, “This is quite a nice package for a phone.” I just smiled and observed as she proceeded. The second point of interest was when she told the clerk that she would also need a Bluetooth headset. We followed the clerk to the aisle containing accessories and looked for the proper headset. I looked at all the packaging and then the brands and finally the prices. The clerk looked for the brand that carried his preferences and pointed to the corresponding package. My wife expressed her preferences, looked at his recommendations and then the price.
The product, package and price all worked together and the sale was made. I wondered though how much the package comes into play when a clerk gets involved. As a designer, I spend a large amount of time creating a package that reflects a brand in order to help sell products yet can be undermined at any time by a clerk and his or her preferences. We hope that the brand we work for has built quality and a positive reputation that rings true with clerks all over but I’m not sure if there is a way to measure this activity or to prepare for it accordingly.
I have my doubts with using focus groups on this situation and feel that some detective work or ethnographic research needs to come into play here. I guess I’ll just have to get out to the retail environment and do some digging.
- Chuck Miller, www.ctipack.com
The role of retail packaging is always changing. The size relationship of the package to the product is much closer today due to the demand for less waste in packaging. The materials used have also changed. The retail package now has to work harder in connecting the consumer to the product and do so in a more competitive marketplace.
With sustainability issues rising everyday, we find it more challenging to create an intelligent package that meets all the demands put on it today. I am giving you a link to view a package that both contains and sells a product but then simply “goes away”.
The designer for this package is from Montreal and his name is Simon Laliberte. The product is a toothbrush called DISSOLVE and the package is amazing.
Wish I had done this one and glad to share it with you.
Take a look and see. http://vimeo.com/slaliberte/dissolve
And when you get a chance, visit us at www.ctipack.com to learn about our sustainability initiatives.
Every year we attend various trade shows including the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas where new and exciting electronic products are unveiled to the public. Items like the latest and greatest big screen tv’s are displayed. During the show we look to see what the packaging for some of the smaller products are and also to see if any of our work is displayed.
We thought we would share some pictures of products at the show in their packaging for you to view.
1. In today’s packaging, how much emphasis is placed on form and how much on graphics? Is one more dominant than the other?
It is dependent on the client’s way of working. Some follow a process while others harbor a secret desire to be designers. The results are usually obvious.
2. Has the focus on sustainability in packaging leveled off or will it continue to rise?
I think the focus will be there but shifting from just a noticeable one to more invisible. By that I mean you may not see a huge size difference in the package of a recyclable look but the process and materials and other factors may push the sustainability levels higher than in the past.
3. With the growing number of products entering the market, what are the expectations of companies in regards to sales performance based on package design and do you feel they are realistic?
They can and should be higher than previously. However the stakes may be higher but the responsibility needs to be recognized and delegated properly.
4. Do you find budgets for package design growing or shrinking?
It depends again on the client and product. Start ups are usually low in the budget whereas big corporations can push more funds into such a project. With that said, we have run into more than our share of big corporations loking to put little money into the design end of packaging and just a bit more into the manufacturing of the package.
5. When designing a package, how connected are you to the manufacturing and fulfillment segments?
We design, manufacture and fulfill – so we can be connected as much as we are allowed.
6. How often have you bought a product based on the package?
Yes – too many times in fact.
7. Have you ever purposely designed a package to have a life (or use) past the product it contains?
Yes. And some clients appreciate that effort.
8. Many consumers complain about clamshell packaging due to the difficulty in opening one. Since that feature is in place to deal with theft, how would you counter or improve that part of the clamshell design?
All I can do at this point is make it look appealing enough to drive the consumer past the unpleasant event of opening a clamshell. Remember, clams and oysters themselves aren’t fun to open, but once they are, the rewards are well worth the effort.
9. What package would you like to design?
A watch case.
10. What is your favorite package?
One that makes me smile before and after opening it and the one that drives me to keep the package.