Augmenting Reality


      by Greg Kishbaugh

     We live in a world of massive technological change. The gadgets we take for granted in our everyday lives would, just a generation ago, have been considered science fiction.
     And increasingly CPGs and retailers are turning to technology to increase awareness of their brands, educate consumers about their products and to connect with their customers.
     Augmented Reality (AR) has been around for a number of years, but the depths to which it can be used to educate (and entertain) consumers is still in its infancy.
     McDonald’s has launched a new AR app called McMission that educates McDonald’s in-store customers and mobile users on the company’s commitment to sustainability.

     The company launched it in tandem with its  third Corporate Responsibility Report. The app features interactive mini-games that teach visitors about the societal and environmental initiatives the company and its franchisees are involved. The app can be launched by scanning the packaging on a number of the company’s products.
     “With McMission we want to bring our guests closer though playful central aspects of sustainability,” said Philipp Wachholz, Director of Corporate Affairs at McDonald’s Germany. “We have chosen Augmented Reality as a technology because it brings together the real restaurant experience with fascinating virtual animation.”
     The app consists of missions that teach users about renewable energy, recycling, the origins of packaging and waste disposal.
Naturally, through the integration of social media, guests can share game achievements via Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.
     As consumers (particularly young consumers) rely more and more heavily on technology, progressive companies will be well served to pay close attention to the ways in which to turn an increasingly digital world to their favor.

Flexo Opportunities


Leo Nadolske

What challenges/opportunities do you feel flexo printers should be focusing on above all others right now?
     Well, projections show a steady increase in flexo for the next few years. So, the challenges need to become opportunities—and the key is providing quality. For instance: new barrier films now available for flexible packaging allow for much more vibrant graphics and address safety concerns—especially in food packaging. Showcasing these capabilities creates great opportunity—especially as consumers continue to demand source reduction in the packaged goods they buy. Flexo converters/package printers can supply a product that is not only eco-friendly, but eliminates contamination issues and could afford their CPG customers with cost reductions.

What significant trends will have the most effect on flexo printers’ businesses in the near future? Are there trends on the horizon that printers should be attuned to?
     If I had to choose one, it would have to be digital flexo printing. For sure this process is a key to growth for flexo converters. It’s no longer in R&D. In fact, one of our sessions in the educational program focuses on digital printing in the converting/packaging arena. CPP’s co-location with Print will provide flexo printers with a birds-eye view of the digital innovations on the horizon.

Are there areas in which flexo is better poised than any other printing methods at the moment to make competitive inroads? If so, what should printers be doing to take advantage of those areas?
     I’d have to say flexo is poised to be a leading process in the food packaging arena. As mentioned earlier, as brands and major retailers listen to their shoppers’ demand for eco-friendly packaging, as well as portion control packaging, we will continue to see bags, pouches, stand-up pouches, as well as “ease-of-use” packaging for individual servings grow exponentially. And, without a doubt, all indicators denote that the preferred printing process for these types of items will be flexo. To take advantage of the growth opportunity, getting educated on the materials that are best-suited and promoting its cost-effectiveness compared to current packaging will secure the greatest results.

What specific opportunities does CPP feel flexo printers will gain from attending the show this year in Chicago?
     Specifically? Innovation! There will be no greater opportunity to see the future than at CPP EXPO co-located with Print in September. The innovations in pre-press and digital that will transfer into package printing will provide an edge to the converters looking to innovate. And, conversely, commercial printers who are immersed in digital are looking to expand into package printing. The opportunities abound for all in attendance!
     So, at the end of the day, CPP EXPO will address the issues keeping your readers up at night now, but will also provide a road map for the future. We look forward to seeing them all in Chicago!

Following The Trends


      by Greg Kishbaugh

     Smithers Pira has released a new report entitled “The Future of Packaging in North America To 2017,” which highlights several primary trends the research company sees driving future growth in the packaging market in the coming year.
     The report predicts that Mexico will show the highest percentage of growth in both the short and mid-term among the North American countries. Mexico is forecast to gain an average 3.1 percent per annum over the course of the next four years, with growth particularly strong in soft drink beverage packaging.

     Paperboard will continue as a market leader for packaging in the coming years. In 2011, the largest share of packaging consumption in North America was paperboard. Corrugated packaging was the fastest-growing sector, growing by 4.7 percent during 2011, and it also accounted for the largest share of board consumption with 64.3 percent. U.S. board packaging sales are slated to grow 0.9 percent per annum on average to reach $51.9 billion in 2017.
     The outlook for industrial packaging is still a bit uncertain as the effects of the European economic crisis on the North American economy remain unclear. Industrial packaging is expected by Smithers Pira to increase 1.2 percent per annum on average by to reach $62.5 million by 2017.
     Finally, the report suggests that retail-ready packaging (packaging that is delivered to retailers in self-contained units immediately ready for on-shelf product display without the need for assembling or unpacking) will show significant growth. Nearly 60 percent of the respondents to a recent Packaging World survey stated they had received increased numbers of requests for retail-ready packaging in the past 12 months.

Sustainable Convenience


      by Greg Kishbaugh

  At the recent Pack Expo show in Chicago, Illinois, Lynn Dornblaser with the Mintel Group gave a presentation on sustainability that hit on many important points for CPGs to consider. Not least of these is the idea that the altruistic nature of consumers must also be met with convenience to keep interest high.
     About one-third of respondents to Mintel’s various surveys would be considered Super/True Greens (shoppers who buy green products regularly), and 72 percent of consumers respond favorably to recyclability claims, but those described as “casually green” are on the rise.

     This shouldn’t come as a great surprise. Being environmentally active requires a good deal of work and commitment on the part of the consumer. It’s only human nature that the more difficult a goal is to attain, the increased likelihood people will fall away from it.
     So, the easier CPGs can make it for consumers, with better designed packaging that clearly and effectively conveys its environmental benefits, the more success they will achieve.
     CPGS also must make consumers very comfortable with the fact that moving to more sustainable products will in no way affect quality. Recently, the efforts of one company to introduce a new lighter weight bottled water container was met with indifference when consumers felt the bottles were too ‘flimsy.’And who can forget the uproar that occurred when an increasingly sustainable chip bag was introduced to the marketplace but was deemed by consumers to be “too loud.”
     One thing is certain, the conversation over sustainability will change dramatically in the coming years, said Dornblaser, as today’s children come of age.
     “Increasingly, children try to get their parents to buy green products, indicating those children may be more environmentally active as they reach adulthood,” Dornblaser said. Mintel research indicates that in 2012, 26 percent of U.S. children aged 6-11 agreed with the statement, “I try to make my parents buy ‘green’ products.” This is more than double the 11 percent of children who said the same thing a decade ago.

Quality And Productivity

Bobst Group

Michael D'Angelo
Vice President

Bobst F&K 20SIX: Short run, High quality, Profitably

     No market is as dynamic and diverse as the packaging market. Raw materials, finished goods, the printing and finishing processes and machines reflect this diversity. It is no surprise that the factors influencing and driving the market are equally varied: economic, social, demographic and political. These factors confront the packaging industry with ever-changing challenges.
     In recent years, three important market trends have set seemingly contradictory conditions, not only for printers and converters, but also for machine manufacturers: packaging needs to have an increasingly high-quality look, while at the same time be inexpensive to produce and—in the spirit of growing environmental awareness—be greener in production.


     The printing of the package is a key element in the process chain from the raw material to the end product, an element that is both energy and capital intensive. As such, the printing process is subject to the pressure of costs and as a consequence, is always under scrutiny for an enhanced cost-benefit ratio. The sales performance of the Bobst F&K 20SIX, launched at Drupa 2012, provides evidence that this new CI flexo press is highly esteemed in this regard. Here’s why:

     The new 20SIX CI section: sophisticated technology for top print quality
     Packaging has long been intended to not only protect and transport goods, but to present them as well. A high-quality printed image will drive consumer choice. Consequently, reliable, consistent quality is a deciding factor for print buyers. Growing demands on print quality bring corresponding demands for increased performance of the printing press in terms of quality, repeatability, high resolution of the printed image and the processing of ever thinner materials.
     Flexo printing is a highly sensitive process, particularly at the point of impression setting and ink transfer. This means that all the components involved in printing must be designed for precision down to the micrometer—both mechanically and in terms of control engineering. Thanks to servo drive technology and high-precision mechanical guides, the Bobst F&K 20SIX can handle the entire impression adjustment, the setting of the anilox roll relative to the plate cylinder and of the plate cylinder to the substrate, with a resolution of 1 micron. Special calibration devices for parallel positioning of the printing units likewise operate with an accuracy of 1 micron.
     However, this precision only brings a benefit if the print quality, once set in the perfect position, is maintained throughout the entire process. Technical measures are taken into the design in order to ensure that this occurs. For example, the central impression cylinder is driven directly, without gears and backlash, and is virtually maintenance-free. In addition to temperature control of the central impression cylinder, the Bobst F&K 20SIX offers an optional temperature compensation system (standard with the revolutionary smartGPS™) to ensure that plate cylinders and anilox rolls remain in the optimum printing position even if the dimensions of the printing unit frames change as a result of temperature fluctuation. Sensors constantly monitor the temperature of the printing unit frames, immediately sending correction signals to the positioning drives of the plate cylinders and the anilox rolls in the event of variations.

smartGPS™: profitable production for very short runs
     Print designs are increasingly short-lived and limited to the duration of marketing campaigns. For the printing industry, this means growing demand for short runs, some with a length of less than 15,000 lineal feet. Now it is possible to produce these lengths profitably in flexo printing, but only with a Bobst F&K 20SIX equipped with auxiliary systems that greatly reduce changeover times.
     Potential savings can primarily be achieved when setting up a job. Almost all machine manufacturers today offer systems with semi- or fully automatic impression and registration adjustment. For the F&K 20SIX, however, with its patented smartGPS™, Bobst is offering a unique system. It is a system that shifts the entire impression and registration related set-up process to the plate mounting stage—the press is no longer used for make-ready at all. Instead, it is available primarily for production printing. A system that reduces waste to almost zero profitably produces the very short runs, which characterize the market’s continued evolution. Another benefit of smartGPS™ is absolute process reliability, meaning that the set-up results can be reproduced at any time, regardless of variables such as shift, ambient temperature, drying properties of the ink, etc.

The LEO system: eco-friendly production, lower costs
     Electricity and natural gas are energies that have to be expended in particularly large amounts in order to print. Like all costs in general, those for electricity and natural gas have risen constantly. In addition, the last few years have seen the emergence of ever greater environmental awareness among both consumers and legislatures, this being reflected in tougher statutory regulations almost everywhere in the world.
     When it comes to energy, ink and solvent consumption, the Bobst F&K 20SIX models are no longer comparable with machines that were state of the art just a few years ago. They offer far higher efficiency and require substantially less energy to print the same area. To enhance this capability, Bobst is offering the LEO (Low Energy Operation) system specifically designed for the new 20SIX family. This optional “green” kit is focused on the machine’s principal consumption devices: the drying, inking and cleaning systems and the compressed-air consumers and drives.
     With the LEO drying system, broad measures have been taken for reducing or avoiding energy losses. These include an improved insulation of the heating circuit, which is more complex than it sounds but has proven to be highly effective. A solvent concentration control system ensures that the thermal energy in the exhaust air is used more efficiently and an after-burner system can be operated under optimum conditions. Control of the blower drive output as a function of the machine speed and the number of printing units used proves to be another efficient measure. Finally, the LEO system features intermediate drying nozzles that can be individually opened and closed only when required.
     The completely redesigned AutoClean inking and wash-up system is characterized by short pipe and hose lengths, resulting in much smaller total ink and solvent/water volumes. Special compressed-air ink agitators with low compressed-air consumption requirements and individually variable cleaning programs with minimum solvent consumption are also important factors in the efficiency of the 20SIX.
     The profile of a “green” LEO equipped 20SIX machine is completed by additional features such as servo drives with energy recovery modules, a refrigeration air drier with low energy consumption and energy-saving modes that switch the machine to the most efficient state at the push of a button during downtimes and production times.
     These diverse means for saving energy do cause additional initial investment cost. However, with a short return on investment time, the people responsible for making purchasing decisions now find it much easier to go “green”. Buyers long ago changed their view of looking at just the acquisition costs and now consider the total cost of ownership (TCO) instead. This is especially critical now that eco-friendly production is, in many cases, being demanded by print buyers and ultimately, the consumer.

     The new Bobst F&K 20SIX simultaneously performs to the highest demands in print quality and productivity while reducing costs significantly. It is the only reliable choice for profitably responding to the ongoing market trend toward smaller job volumes and improves a printer’s ability to compete in a tough market immediately upon start-up.

Consumers Driven By Environmental Concerns


      by Greg Kishbaugh

     Last week, Tetra Pak, located in Vernon Hills, Illinois, released results from its 5th biannual environment survey, which highlights a rising demand for both renewable materials and increased environmental labeling among consumers worldwide.
     The report clearly shows a more engaged and informed buying public, one very much concerned with the environmental impact of a product’s packaging. In addition, the report shows that consumers hope to be even better informed as time progresses.

     In an effort to make informed choices, 37 percent of consumers regularly search for environmental logos on food packaging. Today, 54 percent of consumers trust environmental labels, compared with 37 percent in 2011. One in five consumers in the survey recognized the Forest Stewardship Council™ logo, with most able to associate it with sustainable forestry.
     Nearly 30 percent of consumers stated they look for environmental logos on packaging while shopping for beverage products.
     Naturally, most consumers remain committed to recycling in their homes, sorting all their discarded packaging appropriately. Along the same line, the ability to recycle packaging material is regarded as a top priority among CPGs when developing a product or a service.
     In the United States, recyclability is still the most understood environmental benefit when it comes to packaging but the research confirms a growing interest from consumers in learning more about renewable resources.
     The buying public seems unwavering in its commitment to bettering the environment and being good stewards of the planet. Forward-thinking packaging companies stand poised, as always, to make huge competitive inroads if they can adequately express the ways in which they share their customers’ environmental commitments.

Don't Forget The Slitting Department

Atlas Converting

Brian Stiff
Sales Manager

     You’ve invested in quality pre-press equipment, printing presses, laminators or coaters and expensive raw materials. You’ve added value through the converting process by printing, inspecting and coating/laminating using skilled operators and years of know how. The rolls are then delivered to the slitting department for the final process prior to delivery to your customer. The material now has real added value and has your capital invested in WIP.

     So, what next? Do you:
     (A) Slit on the old faithful slitter, running at 300 feet per minute using operator ‘Big John’ as he “knows how to get the best from the slitter” and can handle the manual process after 16 years of practice? Or,
     (B) Slit on a new high-speed, automated Titan SR9 Series slitter rewinder installed this year running at up to 3,300 feet per minute, with Jane who only joined the company two months ago, but knows which buttons to press?
     If you take a step back and carefully consider your production processes, the obvious answer is (B).
     Why would you invest time and money in producing a first-class product only to have the final process delayed (through slow production speeds) and quality jeopardized (through poor tension or slit width accuracy) and tie up capital in WIP?!

The solution
     The constant development of Titan slitter rewinder technology helps to maintain its position at the forefront of the converting industry. But this is not development to keep our R&D team busy! Our engineering and technical teams provide continuous improvements for a faster, more accurate and reliable slitting & rewinding process. These benefits not only deliver a quicker ROI on the initial capital investment but also continue through the life cycle of the machine. Our modular design concept enables the functionality to change in step with future, increasing production requirements.

And benefits
     One example of the benefits of modular design can be explained by installing a Titan SR9 slitter rewinder with a manual knife positioning system, because your current requirement is 4-5 slit reels using razor-in-air cutting. But three years later you have many orders requiring rotary shear slitting with 16 slit reels! A simple on-site modification to install our automatic Knife Positioning System (KPS) on the same machine will position both male and female knives at the same time in only two minutes.
     The new Titan SR9 Series slitter provides unsurpassed levels of slitting productivity and rewind reel quality. Advanced engineering design includes a unique Linear Tracking Slitter (LTS) section, which ensures the shortest and constant web length between the knives and the rewind shafts for optimum web control, giving the highest possible side wall quality of rewind reels at speeds of up to 3,300 feet per minute. Other features include reduced power consumption, faster set-up times and improved sustainability, showing respect for the environment.
     So, when considering your next round of investment “Don’t forget the slitting department” as it can have an immediate, positive impact on your capital employed, final product quality, the relationship with your customers and a happier (productive) slitting department.
     But if you answered (A), please contact our sales department for an audit of your current slitting requirements!

No End To Ingenuity


      by Greg Kishbaugh

     The folding carton market, like so much of the general economy, has suffered through the doldrums that began with the global economic crisis in 2008, but a newly released report shines a much more positive light on the future of cartons.
     The Future of Folding Cartons To 2018, released by Smithers Pira, posits that the global market for folding cartons will grow 5.1 percent annually, reaching $184 billion by 2018. For such an extremely mature market, these are most impressive figures and serve as an example that by changing to meet newly arising needs, older technologies (and markets) can remain vital for generations.

     The report specifically points to three new developments that will result in added value in the folding carton market over the course of the next half decade: retail-ready packs (primarily in microflute), anti-counterfeit packaging and barrier coating technologies.
     As a growing trend among retailers with an eye on bringing down costs, retail-ready packaging is sure to rise and anti-counterfeit technology is expected to nearly double in the next few years. Developments in water-based coatings, nano-materials, bio-polymers and antimicrobial compounds are leading the growth for barrier coatings.
     According to the report, the surge in demand for mobile phones, tablets and other personal electronic devices will provide increased opportunities for folding cartons and microflute packs. In addition, the healthcare sector, which is said to account for almost 10 percent of folding carton demand, will seek to develop smart packs that monitor patient medication.
     Unsurprisingly, growth in the folding carton markets will come about in much the same way as in other sectors, by seeking out and exploiting new opportunities. For years, consumers have complained about overpackaging. This plays right into the folding carton industry’s hands.
     Likewise, if folding carton producers are able to pursue growing technologies such as Fresnel lenses, holographic images and QR codes, in addition to tapping into the thousands of new avenues available through social media, the industry could ride a wave of innovation and growth for many years to come.

Funding Change


      by Greg Kishbaugh

     World Wildlife Fund is an instantly recognizable institution, one of the world’s largest conservation organizations, active in more than 80 countries and supported by more than five million members. It is unquestionably identified largely by its laudable efforts in protecting animal species throughout the world. But the NGO is also heavily focused on a tangential area: that of packaging and the need to reduce its environmental footprint.
     At the recent Ford Trend Conference, Erin Simon, SPO, Packaging and Material Science, Market Transformation for World Wildlife Fund, spoke about how WWF and its network of corporate sponsors are focusing on the best ways in which to design, produce and use packaging for the best environmental results.

     At the event, Simon spoke on the Greentopia session panel, along with Andy Hoffman, Holcim (US) Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan, Scott Vitters, Manager of the PlantBottle packaging program at the Coca-Cola Company, and John Viera, Global Director of Sustainability for Ford Motor Company. The conference itself was not specifically geared toward sustainability but WWF’s interest in packaging was big news indeed and quickly became a focal point of interest for the attendees.
     The WWF believes firmly in partnering with business to affect the most change. After all, its mission to preserve the world’s most ecologically important regions brings the NGO into constant contact with the businesses that operate in those regions. “[Our strategy] is not about educating seven billion consumers or even 1.5 billion producers,” said Simon, “but to work with those 300-500 companies that buy or sell 70 percent of the things we care about.”
     Simon spent 10 years with Hewlett Packard in the company’s packaging design department; it was at HP that she first crossed paths with WWF. She realized that the NGO had huge holes in its understanding of packaging and Simon knew she could merge her packaging expertise with her passion for conservation. Hoping to affect change on a global scale, she joined WWF two years ago.
     “The conversation is changing now,” said Simon. “The packaging industry has always had to be on defense. The conversation has to change to why packaging is important. The work I am doing is a part of that. We are growing, we have more and more companies who are coming to us and saying, ‘Yes, talk to us more about systems thinking,’ talking about packaging not in a vacuum, not separate from the product, but about how it adds value and is part of the whole.”
     Current business partners bring packaging ideas to Simon and they work together on ways to improve them from the vantage point of sustainability. Simon believes that when packaging is viewed as part of the whole, not a single issue, companies can better develop sustainable solutions for it.
“It’s so exciting to see these conversations happen and people sharing these technologies,” she said, “but it’s just the beginning. We are trying to make sustainability the norm, not the niche.”

Innovation Never Sleeps


      by Greg Kishbaugh

     Innovation is like an infinity loop; it never ends. Even in markets as mature as packaging, forward-thinking companies never stop looking for a new angle, never stop thinking of ways to improve their products and elevate consumer satisfaction.     
    As evidence, The Dieline Package Design Awards were recently handed out, celebrating packaging that continues to innovate and expand. The Awards are a competition devoted exclusively to the art of brand packaging. The 2013 competition saw more than 1,100 entries from 61 countries around the world.

     Looking over the list of winners, it should come as no surprise that many of the innovations come in the area of sustainability, from a hand soap bottle made from plastic recovered from the ocean to an expandable food package made from 100% biodegradeable material from renewed sources.
     “For the 2013 awards, a new Sustainable Packaging Award was created to highlight innovative contributions to the field of sustainable package design,” said Andrew Gibbs, Founder and Editor in Chief, The Dieline. “As package designers, it is our innate responsibility to design packaging with our earth in mind. Each and every one us who designs consumer product packaging for a living has the ability and the duty to create packaging that has less of an impact on the world we all live in. This project does just that, and shows designers that you can create compelling and effective packaging out of sustainable materials.”
     But the packaging breakthroughs are most certainly not limited to sustainability initiatives. Ease of use and the good, old-fashioned ability to solve an ongoing problem are all clearly on display.
     Frankly, perusing the list of winners should be paramount for anyone in the packaging industry. It’s a way to get inspired, to see how much profound thought still goes into a product that has been around for centuries, and most importantly it’s a reminder that innovation never punches a time clock.

A New 'Reality'


      by Greg Kishbaugh

     The term ‘thinking outside the box’ has been overused so dramatically in past few years, the original intention of the phrase has become a bit lost of late. But it seems there’s never been a time in the history of the packaging industry that this old chestnut has held more weight.
     The idea that a box is a box and a carton is a carton is simply no longer true. Technology, as it has done for nearly every facet of our lives, has opened up opportunities for innovative brand managers and packaging professionals like never before.
     Packaging has always been used as a means to communicate with consumers. It sheds light on what’s important to the CPG companies, as well as promotes the key benefits of the product.
But with new technologies, such as Augmented Reality (AR), a consumer packaged goods company’s ability to not only inform but to connect with customers is reaching astonishing levels. Through the use of ubiquitous cell phones, in the case of AR, packaging now becomes something designers could only dream of in the past: interactive.

     Sometimes the technology is used for silliness (last Christmas, Guinness allowed customers to dress up bottles of beer in Santa hats and ribbons, replete with falling snow through a phone app) or for much more serious matters (Budweiser is now employing AR technology to allow customers to decide which states should receive scholarships that assist veterans and their families).
     The point being, there are literally millions of ways in which creative packaging designers, in coordination with equally creative brand managers, can form lasting connections with customers, all through the use of packaging.
      A recent article by Steve Osborne, the founder and MD of Osborne Pike, a branding and packaging design agency, and Alex Pell, one-time editor of  Stuff Magazine shines a powerful light on this new phenomenon.
     “The world is getting smarter — and so is packaging,” the article begins. “Exciting technologies, such as Augmented Reality (AR) or Near-Field Communication (NFC), today enable even a humble carton box to entertain or inform the consumer in ways that are both magical and pragmatic. Not only can the artwork itself appear to come alive but the nature of this new engagement creates a sense of interaction far more immediate and profound than traditional on-pack promotions could ever be.”
     Clearly, never has the idea of ‘thinking outside the box’ held so much meaning as it does today.

The Elements Of Design


by Greg Kishbaugh

The packaging supply chain is a delicate balancing act, each component hopefully coming together in a unified whole to provide one seamless process. But just as every journey begins with a single step, the packaging process begins with the vital concept of design. It’s the key element upon which the success of everything else depends.
     Andy Spriggs, a strategy consultant with Interact OnShelf, recently shared eight principles to consider in effective package design with Packaging World. Strong evidence still shows the majority of consumer purchase decisions are made at the store shelf. Every day the effectiveness of thousands of CPG brands hang in the balance, the deciding factor being how well the design of the packaging entices and motivates the consumer.
     Spriggs begins with an obvious strategy but one he sees many packaging designers and brand managers failing to do, which is to make certain the packaging stands out. With tens of thousands of products to compete against for the consumers’ attention, being bold isn’t enough, he argues. A package’s primary objective is to get noticed. Every design decision should be based upon that principle. Simple as that.
     Next to consider should be the degree to which the packaging displays the information most important to consumers and the brand. Briggs describes it as the ‘hierarchy of information’, knowing how best to display, without clutter or excessive use of font styles, product claims and logos, product information that will compel shoppers to put the product in their cart.
     The shelves of grocery stores and retail chains should be viewed as a competition, Briggs argues, and packaging design should reflect that reality. How is a CPGs product different than that of its competitors? If the packaging cannot quickly and effectively deliver that message to the consumer, the competition has effectively been lost.
     Packaging should also have a strong sense of identity and should express the viewpoint and ethos of the CPG. Briggs argues that we are currently experiencing a ‘counter-corporate movement.’ “Today, shoppers buy based on what a brand will reveal about them and their worldview almost as much as how the actual product performs functionally,” he said.
     As such, Briggs argues that use of stock photography and generic taglines are a death knell for the success of a product. The packaging must be used to convey the personality of the company. Instead of the typical corporate platitudes, the packaging should express the company’s interests, causes and attitudes.
     Briggs also feels that the packaging should clarify the product’s value proposition. Whether it’s a value brand or a premium product, the shopper has to understand how the product is being positioned.
     Effective design means getting into the mind of the consumer. What makes a consumer purchase one similar product over that of another? What drives their decisions? Briggs argues that knowledge researching the reasons behind shopping preferences is the key to unlocking an effective package design.
     Briggs also believes a package should do everything in its power to define the product within. Unless the product category or segment is represented in at least 50 percent of the consumers’ refrigerators and pantries, then the designer should assume the shopper knows nothing. 
     Finally, a designer must understand the real-world elements that might impact how the package is perceived in the store. Will frosted-over freezer doors obscure a clear view of the package? Will hang-tags block important information on shelves below them?
     The critical importance of a package’s design simply cannot be stressed enough. No matter how much thought and consideration have gone into the product itself, the package must operate as the consummate salesman.
     For further information visit

A New Life Through Redesign


by Greg Kishbaugh

     An economic downturn affects companies in different ways, as it also affects individuals in different ways. In analyzing the current global market conditions, it’s clear that one group of professionals is being taxed more than ever to perform their jobs in an increasingly demanding environment. Packaging designers are being tasked with so much more than simply contributing to how a package looks, they are being asked to pump life into lagging brands, to turn around long-evolving market forces. In today’s economy, CPCs are turning to the designers to create new packaging that will not only stop downward trending sales but to reverse them.
     Several huge brands have gone through recent re-branding efforts that have proven large successes. Kraft redesigned its Macaroni and Cheese line two years ago and has reported strong growth in sales. Similarly, Heinz Beanz (which has remained a market leader for decades) still saw a need for a revamp of its packaging and immediately experienced a 12 percent growth in sales.
     The latest powerhouse consumer brand to announce a redesign of its packaging is Pepsi. A representative from brand consulting and design firm Landor and Associates believes that the new Pepsi design (which should hit stores in North America beginning next month) has followed the proper steps in a redesign. First and foremost, the package structure should come first, followed by graphics. By focusing on structure, a new package can help further the brand identity. For instance, when Evian underwent a recent relaunch the bottles were actually designed to give the physical appearance of the French Alps, a key component of the brand’s identity.
     Redesigning a package’s structure can also have more utilitarian benefits, such as the ability to further complicate the efforts of counterfeiters. Or, in the case of Nestle’s Cerelac baby cereal, a newly launched hexagonal package had the dual benefit of reducing the package’s weight while also making the package appear larger to consumers.
     In the case of Pepsi, the company has created what the Landor rep feels is a differentiated structural design that has the power to attract attention and encourage consumers to pause and take a look. Additionally, the bottle’s label earned high marks for not just visual appeal but for its aesthetic simplicity and the way in which it highlights the product inside, creating a greater appetite for the consumer.
     Understanding that the retail environment is the only sure way to test a new package’s appeal, Pepsi will roll out the redesign first in stores to evaluate its point of purchase affect before carrying it over to trucks, coolers and other touch points.
     Should Pepsi’s market share grow in the wake of the new design, look for even more CPCs to turn to their designers and ask, “What can you do to make our product sell more?”

A Sustainable Tool


by Greg Kishbaugh

The February 11th issue of Flexo Market News featured an overview of the way in which Nestlé has used a tool called PIQET to measure and quantify its sustainability goals. The article analyzed the deep wealth of information available today for converters seeking aid in managing their sustainability programs, and, as such, the PIQET tool deserves a little added attention.
     Available from the Sustainable Packaging Alliance, PIQET (Packaging Impact Quick Evaluation Tool) allows CPGs and converters to optimize packaging system design from a sustainability perspective in all stages of the product development process.
     PIQET allows packaging designers to:
• Benchmark current sustainability performance of packaging.
• Review and optimize current packaging to improve sustainability performance.
• Include sustainability performance in the design of new packaging.
• Training to build business capability to make more sustainable decisions.
     PIQET appears to offer a host of benefits for designers, but one that certainly cannot be overlooked is that of speed. Reportedly, a complete packaging evaluation can be completed in less than half an hour.
     Due to its web-based interface, PIQET is available globally 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The tool offers cradle to grave analysis and as such provides users with life cycle information from the production of the raw materials through the production, transport, filling, and waste management of the package.
     PIQET uses information from the user itself along with background from more comprehensive lice cycle assessment modeling to provide a report on the sustainability performance of the package design.
     Seemingly, another strong component of PIQET is that it is not a boilerplate application; instead a company can tailor which life cycle indicators are reported to align with its corporate sustainability goals. PIQET reports the sustainability performance of packaging designs using eight environmental life cycle indicators including climate change, water use and solid waste, as well as a range of packaging specific metrics such as packaging to product ratio and percent of recycled content. But it is up to each individual company to decide which of these metrics are most important to track for their particular sustainability program.
     Every day it is proven that in today’s business climate information is indeed king. And with such a voluminous amount of information at their fingertips, converters have the opportunity to bring added productivity to their companies each and every day.

Fighting The Skills Gap


by Greg Kishbaugh

Converters continually lament many different areas of doing business, everything from competitive pricing to keeping up with the latest technology, but one area remains at the top of their list of primary concerns: that of finding and maintaining a qualified workforce.
The truth is that attracting and retaining solid candidates in the printing industries has always been a challenge. Finding a strong candidate is formidable in and of itself, but after training an individual on the many specific skills needed to operate in the printing industry, keeping them on board is every bit as challenging.
Manufacturers have spoken for years about the “skills gap”, which is an unfortunate reality that is actually forcing many companies to change their growth plans for the future as they simply don’t have enough qualified people on staff to make the plans materialize.
Hoping to find out exactly how the “skills gap” is effecting the graphic communications industry, The Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation (GAERF) recently produced a survey called Skilled Worker Shortage: Myth or Reality? The survey was distributed to the memberships of the Printing Industries of America and the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL).
The survey posited the following statement: “While the national unemployment rate hovers above 8 percent, hundreds of thousands of jobs go unfilled because employers cannot identify candidates with the required knowledge and skill set.” Nearly 74 percent of respondents felt this statement to be true. In other words, the jobs exist (certainly in the graphic arts sector) but applicants simply do not have the proper skills set.
When respondents were asked how they typically find new employees, 63 percent said they use job boards, 25 percent use headhunters, almost 58 percent found referrals from colleagues to be the most successful, while 41 percent use local schools as a resource and 36 percent use a temporary agency.
When asked if they would prefer to train a new employee themselves or hire someone already trained for the specific job position, 76 percent said they would prefer to hire trained personnel.
The survey concluded with an invitation to provide additional comments from respondents:
• The challenge we have faced is finding managers and sales professionals who can understand and apply the capabilities of the new more digital and faster technologies. It requires more creative problem solving and management of an accelerated workflow.
• Finding someone with working knowledge of the latest social technologies is difficult.
• Machine operator positions require already trained operators, who are fewer in number due to aging of the industry and a lack of new talent coming in.
• It is very difficult to find people who have a good work ethic.
• Because most companies are running so lean, the positions that are vacant demand an experienced worker over a newly trained one.
• Employers in our area are in dire need of skilled technicians in all production areas with press and finishing being the largest need.
• Finding print-experienced personnel is tough. We can find designers, but no designers with printing experience.
• It is harder and harder to find quality people these days. Companies need to treat loyal, talented employees like assets and invest in their growth.
No question this challenge will remain for the foreseeable future, yet it remains an area that forward-thinking printers can turn to their advantage. For the flexo printer who successfully unlocks the key to attracting and retaining high-quality employees will have a huge, nearly insurmountable, competitive advantage.

A Look At MRI Flexible Packaging

The January 14th issue of Flexo Market News featured an in-depth look at MRI Flexible Packaging in Newtown, Pennsylvania. The company stays competitive through strict adherence to customer responsiveness and the addition of its new Bobst F&K 20SIX flexo press, the first North American converter to install the machine.
Here, in the words of MRI’s leading managers, are the ways in which the company stays focused on its core business principles.


DuPont Hosts Kenyan Flexo Seminar

DuPont Packaging Graphics recently conducted the second in a series of flexographic printing seminars in Eastern Africa in conjunction with flexo industry associates, including Tesa, Esko, Chespa, and Windmöller & Hölscher.
Held in Nairobi, Kenya, the seminar was attended by almost 50 printing experts representing the entire value chain from pre-press to press from more than 20 companies in the growing Eastern Africa region. The seminar was titled “Quality at its Best – Advancing Flexography in Africa,” and featured the use of DuPont™ Cyrel® flexographic systems.
“Eastern Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world where there is a significant increase in demand for sustainable packaging solutions, and a higher expectation of quality,” said Hans-Peter Hormann, Business Development Manager DuPont™ Cyrel® EMEA. “Flexographic printing is delivering sustainability, productivity and quality to help packaging printers address these needs [and] we estimate that more than 250 attendees from Nigeria, Tanzania, and Kenya have gained important insights from these seminars to date.”
“It is satisfying to see the enthusiasm of the attendees after presenting the printing results, which are standard these days within a flexo printing process,” said Johan Bastiaen, Sales Account Manager Middle East & Africa ,who represented Esko with his presentation “Results That Make You Smile.”
“There is no way not to roll out Flexo in Africa on a large scale,” said Vincent Marzin, Sales Manager Export Sales, Industrial Division, of Tesa. “There is a vast demand for quality and sustainability solutions.”
After watching the “Virtual drupa 2012” video from DuPont, Richard Okemwa, Sales Co-ordinator, from Sanjac Packaging Limited, the major flexo distributor in Kenya, commented, “We have not been able to attend drupa 2012 in Germany this time. However, we feel delighted to see, that drupa show came to us.”

“We see a great benefit for us, but also for the flexo market in Africa, to show effective printing solutions from pre-press, substrates, inks, flexo plates to flexo presses, that are cast in one pour,” said Joachim Siekiera, Chairman of the board, from Chespa. “This is really a great chance as we don’t build on legacy business, but provide almost a new flexo community on the green field. The demand is huge.” 
DuPont Packaging Graphics expects to continue the series of flexo seminars in Africa throughout the year and to strengthen a regional contact network through the African DuPont organization and through specialized dealers in the region.

ArtPro Turns 20

Esko is celebrating two decades of its ArtPro packaging prepress editor. ArtPro is a full-featured packaging preproduction editor offering unique technologies and dedicated tools focused on relieving major prepress pain points, according to Esko. It supports all industry standard file formats and can be integrated into any packaging workflow and can seamlessly be integrated with ArtiosCAD and Automation Engine.
Originally designed as an easy to use Mac-based software tool for cleaning up documents, ArtPro evolved over the years into a full-featured packaging preproduction solution well placed to keep pace with the growing demands of the market.

     Initially, ArtPro was developed to assist prepress operations such as scanning, editing and color corrections. Soon after, ArtPro alleviated film-based stripping by digitally aligning graphics to CAD designs as well as stepping and repeating single designs on the print sheet. Other important features followed and today ArtPro is utilized by more than 15,000 professionals for their day to day tasks in prepress departments all over the world.

FTC Issues New Green Guides

The Federal Trade Commission issued revised “Green Guides” that are designed to help marketers ensure that the claims they make about the environmental attributes of their products are truthful and non-deceptive.
The revisions to the FTC’s Green Guides reflect a wide range of public input, including hundreds of consumer and industry comments on previously proposed revisions.  They include updates to the existing Guides, as well as new sections on the use of carbon offsets, “green” certifications and seals, and renewable energy and renewable materials claims.
“The introduction of environmentally friendly products into the marketplace is a win for consumers who want to purchase greener products and producers who want to sell them,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “But this win-win can only occur if marketers’ claims are truthful and substantiated.  The FTC’s changes to the Green Guides will level the playing field for honest business people and it is one reason why we had such broad support.”
In revising the Green Guides, the FTC modified and clarified sections of the previous Guides and provided new guidance on environmental claims that were not common when the Guides were last reviewed.
Among other modifications, the Guides caution marketers not to make broad, unqualified claims that a product is “environmentally friendly” or “eco-friendly” because the FTC’s consumer perception study confirms that such claims are likely to suggest that the product has specific and far-reaching environmental benefits. Very few products, if any, have all the attributes consumers seem to perceive from such claims, making these claims nearly impossible to substantiate.
The Guides also advise marketers not to make an unqualified degradable claim for a solid waste product unless they can prove that the entire product or package will completely break down and return to nature within one year after customary disposal.
The Guides caution that items destined for landfills, incinerators, or recycling facilities will not degrade within a year, so marketers should not make unqualified degradable claims for these items; and the Guides clarify guidance on compostable, ozone, recyclable, recycled content, and source reduction claims.
The Guides contain new sections on: 1) certifications and seals of approval; 2) carbon offsets, 3) free-of claims, 4) non-toxic claims, 5) made with renewable energy claims, and 6) made with renewable materials claims.
The new section on certifications and seals of approval, for example, emphasizes that certifications and seals may be considered endorsements that are covered by the FTC’s Endorsement Guides, and includes examples that illustrate how marketers could disclose a “material connection” that might affect the weight or credibility of an endorsement. In addition, the Guides caution marketers not to use environmental certifications or seals that don’t clearly convey the basis for the certification, because such seals or certifications are likely to convey general environmental benefits.
Finally, either because the FTC lacks a sufficient basis to provide meaningful guidance or wants to avoid proposing guidance that duplicates or contradicts rules or guidance of other agencies, the Guides do not address use of the terms “sustainable,” “natural,” and “organic.” Organic claims made for textiles and other products derived from agricultural products are covered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program.
The FTC first issued its Green Guides in 1992 to help marketers avoid making misleading environmental claims. It revised the Guides in 1996 and 1998, and proposed further revisions in October 2010 to take into account recent changes in the marketplace. The guidance they provide includes general principles that apply to all environmental marketing claims; how consumers are likely to interpret particular claims, and how marketers can substantiate these claims; and how marketers can qualify their claims to avoid deceiving consumers.
The Guides issued today take into account nearly 340 unique comments and more than 5,000 total comments received since the FTC released the proposed revised Guides in the fall of 2010.  They also include information gathered from three public workshops and a study of how consumers perceive and understand environmental claims.
The Green Guides are not agency rules or regulations.  Instead, they describe the types of environmental claims the FTC may or may not find deceptive under Section 5 of the FTC Act. Under Section 5, the agency can take enforcement action against deceptive claims, which ultimately can lead to Commission orders prohibiting deceptive advertising and marketing and fines if those orders are later violated.
The FTC has brought several actions in recent years related to deceptive recyclability, biodegradable, and environmental certification claims as part of its overall effort to ensure that environmental marketing is truthful and substantiated.
The FTC also released several business and consumer education resources designed to help users understand the Guides.  These include: 1) “Environmental Claims – Summary of Green Guides,” a four-page summary of the changes in the Guides; 2) “The Green Guides,” a video explaining highlights of the changes; 3) a new page on the FTC Business Center, with links to legal documents, the Guides and other “green” content; 4) a Business Center blog post; and 5) related consumer information.