Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Is Your Packaging Too Functional?

Bob Fiedler, CPP, Fellow
by Bob Fiedler, CPP, Fellow

The primary functions of packaging are containing, protecting, and communicating. In some instances, the actual product does a better job addressing these functions by itself.  For example, in its soft goods lines, Target is using a unique approach to reduce packaging while leveraging a product's inherent benefits.

If you've recently walked by a row of soft goods in Target, then you know that it is almost like walking by a linen closet.  You can see all the various color options and feel all the available textures.  If you've recently purchased something from this section, I'm guessing your buying decision was fairly easy.    

Examples of Soft Line Packaging at Target
Think about it:  Before buying a new set of bed linens, don't you want to see and feel what you're selecting?  Then, what better way is there than to use the product itself (or a useful sample of the product) to communicate the product's quality?  You will directly eliminate the need for extra packaging that, let's face it, will only be later thrown away or recycled.  And, there are fewer returns because the color on the package didn’t match the color of the product inside or how soft (or not) the product is.  The products sell themselves.

Example of Minimalist Packaging
Furthermore, the need for custom labeling is eliminated, allowing standard labeling to be used for all colors and textures. This saves label inventories as well as extraneous packaging. Until soft goods manufacturers can get customers to actually wear the products’ packaging, this approach is pregnant with possibilities!

What packaging functions can your products perform for themselves? How can you rely on your product to minimize your company’s packaging? Can you gain supply chain improvements by reducing packaging?

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