Packaging Development Strategies & Tips

Apr 5, 2019Blog

The main purpose of packaging is to wrap your products for safety. It also ensures smooth logistics, information about your product and can also influence the preference of a consumer. Packaging, therefore, fulfills many functions, and also meet the diversity of customers. Any packaging company needs to know the packaging development process to effectively manage its development process.

This blog post will guide you to gain a comprehensive understanding of the packaging development process from scratch.

This Guide Contains detailed guidelines regarding:

Keeping The End Goal In Sight During Packaging Development

  • Implement A Brand Protection Strategy
  • Strategy To Improve Your Collaboration With Sales And Marketing

So let’s dive in…   

  • Keeping The End Goal In Sight During Packaging Development:

The whole packaging development process requires great skills and you need to deal with various variables and unknowns and can get overwhelming in the process. In these times, keeping your end goal in sight is what keeps you from deviating from the process. What you need to do is follow the set of industry practices to manage the packaging development process that meets both the product demand and operational requirements. Here are some guidelines which you need to follow:

  • Coordinate your packaging supplier:

Early in the packaging development process, meet your existing, any pertinent, and potential packaging material supplier, machine equipment supplier to share your plans with packaging development. By briefing them early, you can gain good control over the variables and unknowns that may occur on the supplier’s end. It is prudent for package developers to include suppliers early in the loop to minimize risks and understand technical requirements such as operating temperatures, packaging material, capacity handling, labeling, machine fixtures to evaluate against using the existing machine capacities or ordering a new one.

  • Evaluate stock versus customized design template:

Many different looks could be obtained in packaging by varying the existing stock templates with color or sensory elements in labels. However, research has shown that customized packaging designs attract consumer’s attention and retains brand loyalty. When customer packagings are developed, consider filing for a patent to protect your brand identity.

  • Understand Your Distribution Network:

Packaging manufacturers rely on their distribution network to understand the ground reality. They can manage the complex geographical network, provide just-in-time delivery, ensuring the right machine component and packaging material reaches the right manufacturing plant just in time for production. Packaging developers must have a thorough understanding of this complex distribution network to facilitate easy transportation of produced goods. 

  • Cut Out The Middle Men:

There is always an advantage of working directly with your material supplier/manufacturer. Manufacturers are easy responsive to requests, complaints or issues. Additionally, their offer discounts and technical services if you award them with regular business.

  • Be Flexible With Your Designs:

Many companies are reluctant to change their packaging designs and stick to their traditional methods. While developing new packaging design involve suppliers to pitch their ideas. Outsourcing different ideas will help you review a creative set of designs and choose the idea if it suits your brand portfolio.

  • Think about the Functionality of Your Product:

Always consider how your packaging components are supposed to function as an assembled package. Many beverages company has designed their containers in a way to highlight their name at top of the container for maximum visibility on the food shelf.

  • Don’t Lose Sight of Your Consumer:

Consumer is always the end user of your product. You must always consider what attributes appeal to your customer. Consider emotional and physical needs, such as easy access, easy opening, cleanliness. Balance the physical structure of your package with food safety and integrity.

  • Design Keeping Your Machine Constraints in Mind:

Many companies begin their product development strategies by understanding their existing machine constraints. Solid model prototypes could be circulated in the internal teams and among customers to gain feedback and improve your packaging. Machine capabilities and constraints are important to find an optimum solution to handle the newly developed packaging design.

  • Know Your Cost Cutting Boundaries:

With the pursuit of innovation and cost-cutting solutions, you can push the envelope too far. Properly engaging with new technologies and cost-cutting solutions means considering at which point the structural integrity of the product is getting hampered and stay within the boundary.

  • Different Platforms Needs Different Strategies:

As a packaging manufacturer, your packaging is distributed among 4 channels: Retail, Convenience store, E-Commerce and food service (Hotels, restaurants, etc). Depending on where the packaging is consumed, the packaging can vary in size, shape, and material. Perform research on consumer demand, channel and evaluate the size of the package for e-commerce and retail.

  • Implement A Brand Protection Strategy:

Once your all your production and design constraints are set it is time to think for remedial strategies if your creativity goes wrong. Having a reputation management strategy in place is vital for developers who constantly engage themselves with innovative ideas.

It is important to have a reputation management strategy layered with rules, regulations, and steps to be taken when such condition arrives. Some of the key factors to consider includes:

  • Understand The Problem:

First, step back and understand the threat lurking on your brand. Understand how this is going to affect your brand reputation and ROI. What steps could solve or help solve the problem? How can you gain maximum from your brand protection strategy?

  • Understand That Each Strategy Is Different:

A strategy will only be effective if you understand the problem. Try defining a strategy which incorporates all possible threats your brand could face. Each threat is different, having a strong manual could help you refer to some points which can be applied to every threat out there.

  • Guage The Urgency:

Is this threat tarnishing your brand? What is the worst case scenario?  Have a detailed plan layout defining the biggest threat you can face and then gauge it against the issue you are currently facing. This will help you understand the urgency of the matter.

  •  Favour Prevention Mode Over Reaction Mode:

Treat your brand as a human being with real human values. Instead of reacting to every possible threat out there, develop a strategy to prevent yourself to fall in these situations. Always being in a reaction mode will waste a lot of your time investment and also tarnish your reputation further.

  • Devise A Practical Approach:

Packaging technology is always moving forward and with that new challenges are faced by companies every day. Some of the tactics you create may look good on paper but becomes impossible to implement in the real world. Try devising strategies by keeping real-world solutions in mind. Look broadly and seek help from various departments of your organization.

  • Strategy To Improve Your Collaboration With Sales And Marketing:

Brand, sales and marketing manager for packaged products have a huge responsibility to stand out among the crowd. Charged with needs to compete in the market with unique, compelling and innovative products, a marketing manager may demand something which challenges the concepts designed by the packaging development team.

Both the teams work on the basis of data and hence as a packaging developer you need to present exact data and information supporting your claim and the reason behind using a particular material, shape or size.  Any lack of communication may hamper the overall process.

To mitigate the errors caused due to lack of communication, here are some tips to drive away from the ambiguity between marketing managers and product developers.

  • Insist on A Functional Package Description:

When asking for consumer brand requirements, the marketing should provide a design and function-oriented description through a project brief. Using vague information may only confuse the design and development team, and can lead to additional cost of revision. You need to have a written document in place to incorporate the perspective of developing and marketing teams respectively.

  •  Include all The Stakeholders in the Development Process:

Best practice includes managing and updating all the critical stakeholders like branding, marketing, product engineer, project manager, financial advisor about the early concepts and ideas all the way through the commercial launch of the project.

  •  Brief Marketing Personnel About The Production Capacity:

Allow the brand and marketing managers to visit your production area to help them gauge your production capabilities. This will allow them to set some practical expectations while developing a packaging product. Conversely, the production team can visit the marketing area and understand the requirements of the consumer and the reason behind the claims made by the marketing and sales manager.

  • Discuss Your Existing Capabilities:

Schedule cross-functional team meetings to allow your brand managers to learn more about the flexibility, packaging formats, available size, printing ink, etc. This helps marketing managers to understand what could work in practice and what can be improved or added in the existing capabilities.

  •  Avoid Department Terminologies:

Each Department has its own set of abbreviations and terminologies to make things easier. But when it comes to working with cross-functional teams, the technical abbreviations used by the package development team may not be easily understood by the marketing teams and vice-versa. For example – Packaging size, the height may be discussed in a different tone when it comes to machine operators, for marketing managers it can be about the size it takes on a shelf. Sometimes the two don’t match up. Hence use basic terminologies to define the strategy to avoid any misunderstanding.

  • Walk In Their Shoes:

Both the marketing and packaging development team could perform better when they understand each other’s motivations and perspectives. Marketers should understand what developers are trying to understand and developers should understand how marketers are interacting with the customers.


 Now that you have a good understanding of how packaging development works, you may go ahead and create your own strategy following these guidelines. As mentioned earlier, packaging development deals with many variables and unknowns, having a strong strategy will help you prepare for these unknown variables. Follow the guidelines and create a plan which is customized specially for your packaging requirements. The strategy must include all the stakeholders involved in the success of the product.

Disclaimer – “Views expressed in the blogs, are exclusive thoughts of the author and are not necessarily aligned to Parakh Group’s policies”.