Isn’t it funny how many marketers flock to use the terms ‘antioxidant,’ ‘fat free’, and other, similar ubiquitous terms? Or how so many companies rush to enlist in the latest ‘green’ organization just to put a certified logo on its products’ labels (since over 55% of consumers look for a product with a ‘green connotation’)? This is especially curious since research has proven that more people are more influenced by the colors and design of packaging versus alleged product claims clearly spelled out on the label. For instance, more people are influenced and apt to believe a claim based on an earthy design, versus a certifiable emblem. This brings us to solution number one!
1) Be honest
Be sure not to mislead consumers. The term ‘unscented’ is a major culprit of this, and often misleading; unscented does NOT always mean that fragrances or perfumes have not been added. This is very crucial at this time when the government is definitely cracking down on label claims!
2) Don’t clutter your label!
Less really can be more. If a company clutters its package with testimonials, reasons to purchase the product, the package looks like a pity plea and sometimes leaves customers running. Simple equates to elegance. A customer feels more comfortable in purchasing the product when he or she feels empowered to decide for himself or herself. The average consumer only glances at your product for 2-3 seconds (and is more frequently enticed initially by the picturesque quality and texture versus the copy). Make a statement with your design that will intrigue customers in this very short time span.
3) Does your message accurately reflect your campaign?
Does the tone of the message and product photo match? All thematic elements of a company, product, slogan, and package graphics should work together harmoniously and be representative of each other.
4) Use a specialty label to set you apart.
5) Design with location in mind.
6) Make the label interactive.
Does your product have a story behind it? Tell it. Lots of products have clever and funny quips on the side or even under the cap like Snapple has! Think of a unique way to position your product or have your consumers interact with your product. Wheat Thins has a remarkable strategy of tying the consumer to the product!
Recently, Vibrant Graphics’ CEO, Mike Sewart, embarked on a trip to Tel Aviv, Israel to attend a “Commercial VIP Event,” hosted by HP Indigo Digital Press Headquarters. In light of this trip, I would like to explore aspects of working with another country. In doing so, I recently spoke with an acquaintance that had many clients that produce in Prague, Czech Republic and Yokohama, Japan.
“Prague is a logistical sweet spot in Europe much like Memphis, Tennessee is in the U.S. Our Yokohama, Japan facility offers our customers an entry into the Asian Market. If customers need full production capabilities in country throughout continental Asia, we have a strategic partnership with other Asian production companies that allow us to produce work for our clients locally.”
The benefits of producing locally in other countries are numerous:
• Shipping times are greatly reduced which allows you more time to plan/produce the project (in some cases weeks are saved)
• Much lower customs/other fees
• Greater control over when the product gets delivered
• Localized foreign language translation
“Some countries are tougher to work in than others but generally speaking – producing locally in that country and having people who know the market coordinate delivery will save time, money and hassle. That’s why we are expanding internationally and a lot of this is driven by savvy customers who understand the benefits of producing in other countries.”
Some things to consider include thinking logistically about what you wish to accomplish. Be strategic in your expansion efforts. For example, if you are a flexible packaging company that is heavily involved in food packaging production (especially meat) and would like to enter the country Brunei, you might want to think again. Brunei is not suited to produce meat packaging, since it is a largely kosher society. If you wanted to enter the flexible packaging industry, focusing on creating packaging and label components for non-alcoholic beverages, sauces and seasonings, and baked goods, Africa has a strong growth rate in implementing flexible packaging (thus, there will be adequate resources for production and distribution). Also, you may need to coordinate your efforts by speaking with the World Trade Organization in order to complete international shipping paperwork.
In addition to the aforementioned strategies, be sure to consider cultural barriers! With this in mind, there are many differences to consider. I would use cultural guidelines in creating or developing relationships with any sector.
An example of a few cultural differences in between the U.S. and other countries to consider may include the following:
Opportunities in other countries are moving countries across borders more frequently. As these opportunities arise, it is important to adhere to other countries hierarchy systems when doing business with them!
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One of the “most overused marketing phrases” of 2009 was “green”, according to several advertising and marketing sources. It seemed like everywhere you turned, everything was GREEN! Don’t expect this bragging war to be over anytime soon. The ‘swagger’ wars have just begun – each product industry claims why what they have is better than the next guy. There are even battles to fight inside the industry, such as which plastic product is better than another plastic product. This makes sense though, since over 80% of consumers expect their product to be affiliated with sustainable material in efforts to be environmentally friendly. So if you’re not already looking into eco-friendly solutions, now is a good time to investigate alternatives!
Recently, California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) issued new rules that may go into effect very soon. These new rules would stipulate which chemical ingredients in products that may pose a health or environmental concern. The DTSC could potentially require companies to submit specific product details for review, including data on safety and sustainability for recycling. The DTSC seems to be keeping the lines of communication open during this review process, offering ‘alternatives assessments’, which is commendable!
Plastics have gotten a lot of heat. Recently, Kellogg’s recalled 28 types of cereal which resulted in 1.7 million instances of off-flavoured cereal. That is sure to wake you up in the morning! (“Kellogg said a “slightly elevated” level of a substance commonly present at very low levels in the FDA-approved waxy resins in packaging materials was responsible for the off-flavours and odours in four types of its breakfast snacks.”).
From Kellogg’s recalls to California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) crack-down, we are sure to have more ‘unrest’ with the plastics industry. BUT, let’s compare that with the paper industry.
There are different production methods used in both the printing industry and the polypropylene industry. Each industry COULD make a change and ethically and responsibility produce goods. For instance, in the printing industry there is an alternative way to produce paper or labels which is environmentally desirable; there are sustainably managed forests which essentially “recycle” by re-pulping the old paper in order to manufacture new paper. As we know, companies do not always opt for the most eco-friendly.
Paper production involves a large amount of water, and makes use of toxic chemicals. Thus, the chemicals that mills located on waterways use contaminate the water. According to the US Energy Information Agency, the paper industry releases about 212 million tons of hazardous substances into the air and water. “These amounts are comparable to the U.S. primary metal industry — and are ranked as the third largest user of industrial water.” (http://www.secret-life.org/paper/paper_environment.php#Q8 , 2010). Though most paper mills have attempted to become more eco-conscious by generating the power from wood wastes for the manufacturing process, “U.S. government figures show that pulp and paper manufacturers are the fourth largest industrial emitters of greenhouse gases”. (http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/efficiency/carbon_emissions/carbon_mfg.html)
Take a look at these paper-recycling facts:
• Paper bags generate 70% more air and 50 times more water pollutants than plastic bags
• Paper bags use 84 times as much energy to recycle compared to a plastic bag
Even if you recycle, the outcome is still questionable. Unlike paper, the most harmful aspect of polypropylene (plastic) is not the production, but rests on the consumers’ responsibility to recycle. Also, because of the durable nature of plastics, they are able to withstand high temperatures or other environmental conditions. There are more uses for polypropylene, and on average it has a lifespan of 12 years. (http://timeforchange.org/plastic-bags-and-plastic-bottles-CO2-emissions ). I would like to see a paper bag last that long!
Here is a helpful link which shows how well both paper and plastic are recycles: http://www.recycling-revolution.com/recycling-facts.html . According to this, Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour! [BUT] most of them are thrown away!
As far as polypropylene labels, there are safe ways to print on plastic labels. For instance, the process that Vibrant Graphics use to produce polypropylene labels reduces the amount of scrap (we have less than 3 %!). It takes less material to calibrate our press and our process is geared towards shorter runs which encourages the use of less overall material. We also recycle the little waste that we do produce in order to reduce our carbon footprint. Finally, our inks do not contain any hazardous chemicals and are water-based.
For this round, I’m going to say that plastics kicked paper out of the arena. Now, the question is, which plastics’ packaging solution is best?