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The Power of the Packaging Restage

Posted By: SGK December 02, 2015

CPG companies have it tough these days.  While they have been wrestling with brand shifting, changing demographics, new media and technology, mining terabytes of big data, and navigating an emerging retail scene, a new challenge has formed.  That is the specter of being acquired by a competitor or by private equity.  The near-zero Federal Funds Rate not only enables companies to invest in their own growth, it also makes it much easier for companies to buy scale through acquisition.  Surely this is a huge boon for some.  But many CPGs prefer to go it alone rather than see their brands taken over and possibly sold off for parts. To remain independent enterprises, CPGs must perform in the short term, getting the most value possible out of their brands, but in a way that is sustainable and fits with the equity.

This dynamic is bringing new relevance and urgency to the brand packaging restage.  As the majority of the largest CPG brands have lost market share in the past year, there is a critical need for a fresh approach.  Sometimes considered a “half measure”, the brand restage hasn’t always been thought of with the same degree of seriousness or appeal as, say, launching an all-new brand or product.  But change is in the air because breakthrough brand packaging design offers CPGs an attractive mix of benefits today if done in a thoughtful way. 

Refreshed packaging doesn’t rely on inventing a magic molecule or investing in any other product formulation change.  The packaging itself brings “news” to the shelf without necessarily incurring slotting fees or negotiating incremental space at retail.  Brand packaging is an “always on” communication channel to reinforce positioning or launch a new claim; consumer permission is not needed to show it.  Perhaps the single most critical opportunity with packaging, however, is to bring a meaningful new reason to select your brand and to select it over and over again.

Functional or structural packaging innovation can drive ease of use, facilitate new usage occasions, support sustainability, and bring efficiencies to the supply chain (including yours and that of your retail customers.)  Taking the time to develop a thoughtful, comprehensive creative brief is key.  Work with your agencies to consider the role of packaging in your consumers’ life, from quickly identifying the brand to selecting it on the physical or virtual shelf, to how they use and ultimately discard the packaging.  Work across categories to find inspiration in, say, specialty food while working on personal care products.  Taking this example further, you must also consider if the transparency trend in food packaging should translate to other categories or is even relevant to your brand’s equity.

In doing so, brands may find new routes to brand relevance that aren’t long-shot new product innovations (most of which fail, remember), but are thoughtful, tangible packaging and design solutions that can be achieved in much less time.  Restaging the brand portfolio can also serve as a signal to the outside world, demonstrating that even the stodgiest of brands is being cared for, managed actively not passively, no matter if you are trying to attract or repel potential M&A suitors.

About Bruce Levinson
Bruce Levinson is Vice President, Client Engagement at SGK, a leading global brand development, activation and deployment provider that drives brand performance. Bruce is a passionate architect of brand strategy and is highly experienced in translating consumer insights and client needs. His experience helps clients meet market and regulatory demands while driving brand initiatives domestically and internationally. His previous positions include director-level marketing roles at Unilever in the US and UK, and as an advertising account executive.