4 General Questions Help you Start your Packaging Business
It's true that some products have the features of self-market. However, most do not, as evidenced by the presence of marketing departments across the country and around the world. In fact, most consumers will experience the packaging of a product before they experience the product itself! Once the packager of any product actually stops to consider this fact, the importance of choosing wisely when selecting packaging should be clear. While each product will present different facts, there are 4 general questions that can help you in your search for the perfect packaging.
1. Does the package give the customer what they want?
When dealing with bottled water, customers who drink bottled water have come to expect a certain type of container. There may be many reasons for the expectations of any given industry. From convenience to evidence of tampering to quantity, customer expectations must be met. Determine the expectations of the consumer in your given industry and make sure your packaging meets the consumer's needs. Remember also that consumer needs and expectations are constantly changing, and such changes can occur in an instant or over time. Going back to the bottled water industry, it is safe to assume that plastic bottles may be replaced in the near future. Even though consumers want bottled water to be packaged in plastic bottles, the war on plastic continues. As the debate over recycling and sustainability grows and costs rise, long-held expectations for clear plastic bottles may eventually change. Keeping on top of these changes can keep consumers happy and thus production levels high.
2. Unique packaging or industry standard packaging?
Unique packaging can make a product stand out from the competition, and it seems logical that unique packaging should be designed for new products if the budget allows it. However, this should not be an absolute rule, as some industries simply have a norm - and straying too far from that norm can be disastrous. For example, bottled water traditionally comes in a 16.9-ounce clear plastic bottle. Sure, there are some variations, but the norm is convenience, which is what customers expect. Deviating too far from this standard could alienate a group of customers who expect a certain kind of packaging. The perfect solution is likely to be a balance between industry-specific standard packaging and packaging that makes the product stand out. This can be accomplished in many different, and sometimes very simple ways. For example, a unique label can be used on the water of a clear plastic bottle to give the customer what they want while still making the package stand out on the shelf. However, there are exceptions to every general rule.
3. Does packaging limit production levels?
Choosing your packaging will directly affect the cost and performance of any packaging machinery available for a given product. A uniquely shaped bottle may take longer to flush or require more stabilizing components as it moves down the conveyor system. A large bottle will obviously take longer to fill than a small container. Certain materials may be more difficult to get through flushers, filling equipment, and capping machines. When selecting packaging, keep your overall production requirements in mind and make sure that packaging machinery or labor can meet those needs without creating a budget crunch. Custom packaging machinery for special packaging, bottles, or caps can become expensive, but alternatives such as contract packaging or manual labor also have drawbacks.
4. Is packaging sustainable?
Sustainability is an important topic in today's packaging world. Whether the topic is a trend or a new permanent part of the packaging, it is certain that the term will be important for quite some time. Sustainable packaging also seems to have many definitions or explanations, but in a very general sense, sustainable packaging uses renewable, recyclable energy and materials throughout the life cycle of a product. This includes the product itself, the packaging, the transportation, the packaging machinery, and all other aspects of putting the product on the shelf. For a growing number of consumers, the sustainability and/or "green" practices of packagers appear to be an important factor in choosing one product over another.
Of course, different situations may require many additional considerations or issues - from material availability to ease of shipping to simple container size. However, answering the four questions above will provide a good start for any packager to select a package that will reduce costs, present the product in an attractive way, engage customers, and allow production needs to be met effectively.
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