What is it you want to achieve with your packaging beyond getting it on shelf? Without articulating the strategic goals and objectives for your packaging, the chances of achieving success are low – as demonstrated by the number of new product failures every year. Failures that result from a product or packaging not connecting with the consumer – or from poor marketing planning and execution support of the product roll out.
Strategy exists at many levels; even the smallest of operations has the need for a strategic plan to guide the formulation of a specific packaging approach as well as the marketing and advertising that surrounds and supports the product. Why strategy? Having a packaging strategy ensures that product-packaging activity throughout its entire executional process supports your business goals and objectives and also ensures everyone is marching to the same orders at a uniform speed, direction and schedule.
Ultimately, a packaging strategy should define the macro actions and goals required to define and achieve success – understanding the competitive forces and risks impacting the launch of the product, connecting the product with the consumer, meeting the consumer within the correct channels – in all cases effectively communicating the value and benefit of the brand. Above all, a solid strategy provides the critical guidance to the integrated teams working on the different production components within the packaging process.
Once your strategy is set (and it does not need to be book-length to be effective), and before anything else happens, it is critical to share it with all team members in order for them to define the tactics they will use to execute their work – remembering that much of what is done within the packaging process is done concurrently with other related activities. As project participants assemble and define their individual tactics for execution, they should continuously test their recommendations back to the strategic objectives in order to keep the process on target in terms of quality, timing and budgets.
A hallmark of a successful packaging project is the ability to move through the process once, eliminating the continual stop/start of components. A well-crafted strategy that does not become part of the language surrounding any given project is a waste of time and money and will doom a project to shortfalls and excess expenditure.
These are a few solid rules of thumb to remember:
• Strategy doesn’t only apply to the “creative” functions – strategy reaches throughout the entire packaging process from product formulation, to the creative, production support, and into logistics.
• Building a strategy does not necessarily mean the expenditure of big dollars. It requires clear thinking and decision-making based on the review of data that is as accurate as possible.
• Stick with the plan – unless previously unknown information comes to light mid project, it doesn’t serve any purpose to disregard or modify your strategic plan midstream. Ultimately, you want your product to compete and succeed.
• If you do have to change your strategy, confirm the revised expectations with all participants so they remain uniformly focused on the goal. Be sure the need to modify your approach merits the financial impact.
• Review – it is critical to conduct a full team post mortem and define the strengths and weaknesses in your process as well as the tactical steps teams need to undertake to improve performance and packaging outcomes.
The more you define your packaging strategy the easier the process becomes and the more you are intuitively aware of the questions to ask, risks to evaluate, and the potential for unplanned obstacles in the process. Build upon gained knowledge as you define objectives for future projects and ensure that throughout the full packaging process these standards are met with consistency.
It is no longer enough to simply decide you want to put a product on shelf. Shelf space is at a premium, and competition is extreme. If you do want to introduce a product and succeed, take the time to define your strategic goals before you undertake the full scope of the project – and then stick with it. Hopefully, the results will be self-evident.
If you need strategic help to move through the packaging process efficiently and effectively, contact us at 920-886-7727 or [email protected] Throughout our 60 plus years of supporting customers with consumer brands large and small, we apply our experience and expertise to the entire process to create efficient and effective solutions.