The best test of whether an idea is a good idea is if anyone is likely to pay attention.

As we were in the final phases of getting ChiefPackagingOfficer.com ready for launch, my Chicago counterpart Jim Mocchi and I headed down to Naples, Florida for the 2015 Package Design Matters Conference presented by Package Design Magazine. In addition to Kodak D2L being a supporting sponsor, we were both enthusiastic about the agenda and keeping abreast of emerging packaging design and industry trends.

From the opening keynote by Larry Light, former global CMO of McDonald’s and a visionary voice in packaging, we were struck by how timely an idea ChiefPackagingOfficer.com really is!

Light, currently CEO of marketing consultancy Arcature, expressed great concern that when he attends meetings on marketing communications, package design is rarely represented. This is despite his quite realistic view that package design is about more than just an attractive container, but also, “a recurring opportunity that allows customers to actually hold a brand in their hand.” Packaging, according to Light, is the intersection of the purchase Moment of Truth and the brand Moment of Trust.

And how does he believe that packaging will get its due? By being represented in c-level and brand strategy conversations – the very premise of this site and blog!

Emerging Thinking about Packaging’s Evolution

In addition to Larry Light’s insights, other sessions focused on the growing importance of packaging to success, for example, here are a few titles from the agenda:

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  • “Honestly Different: Embracing Design as a Core Business Strategy”
  • “If Packaging Were Your Only Marketing Spend” (By the way, Larry Light pointed out that packaging receives more consumer impressions than any other media option and that at McDonald’s they rolled out new packaging globally before they rolled out advertising!)
  • “Design ROI: Quantifying Return on Investment on the Project and Enterprise Levels”

Takeaways

It’s always stimulating to immerse in two days of continued learning in one’s industry and interact with colleagues and customers – especially at a conference as well conceived and executed as Package Design Matters. (What cooler way to network with package design innovators than on an eco-tour of the Everglades??)

After a week or so of processing what we learned and incorporating it with our thoughts about packaging and its upstream processes, here are my takeaways:

  • Marketing and packaging are continuing to coalesce into one functional group. If packaging is to gain a seat at the product strategy table it will likely come as part of a new discipline called Total Brand Experience, or a similar title.
  • Packaging Innovation is entering a new era where trends that have been recognized in marketing over the last 5 years (mobile, social, interactive, etc.) will find their way “on pack” and “in store”.
  • If packaging is to elevate to a strategic level, the burden on packaging will not only be to integrate or implement new innovations but also to advise its respective brands on what is possible and how it can be achieved, all while still getting pack on shelf in a timely, compliant, and cost-effective manner.
  • There will be additional challenges to integrate packaging processes and data into systems where information can be analyzed and/or published globally at a moment’s notice.

A New Mantra: Automate to Innovate

Our participation in sessions and networking at Package Design Matters also served to reinforce a mantra we subscribe to here at D2L: Automate to Innovate.

We heard about so many great ideas and new technologies that brands will want to take advantage of in 2015 and beyond. However, when we’ve spoken to design professionals in the past, as well as at the recent conference, we’ve heard more than a few speak with trepidation about adding new technologies to the package design process.

Their concern? That with schedules, timelines and resources spread so thin, could it possibly complicate our processes further?
Our experience and that of our customers proves exactly the opposite. In packaging, which is becoming more and more critical to business success while becoming ever more complex, failure to automate the most repetitive and risk-prone aspects actually stifles creativity and innovation.

Spending time managing versions, managing tasks, monitoring deadlines and similar activities can throw a bucket of cold water on anyone’s creative fires. Innovation happens when cutting edge ideas and technologies can be seamlessly integrated in a digital packaging commercialization process.

Design knows what’s at stake and is seeing more opportunity for its contributions to innovation to have impact. Now it’s time to adopt the tools that will help seize the moment.

To learn more about packaging as a c-level conversation, download our white paper, “Introducing the Chief Packaging Officer: Why Global Organizations Must Elevate Packaging to a Leadership Role to Compete in the 21st Century.”




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