Interview with the Packaging Diva: JoAnn Hines

JoAnn Hines, the Packaging Diva, has a wealth of knowledge about the packaging industry and voices her advice to help the packaging industry. Her expertise has taken her all over the world and in virtually every packaging publication. Bottom line, she knows packaging.

JoAnn was nice enough to give us some wonderful insight on the packaging industry today as well as a little bit of history of how she became, “The Packaging Diva”. So, without further adieu…

1. Let’s talk a little about yourself. How may years have you been in the packaging industry?
I have been in packaging 35+ years in virtually every facet. I started with no experience as a trainee in 1976. Since I was one of the few women in packaging, I was given rigorous technical training that has stayed with me my entire packaging career.

2. What is it about packaging that interests you most?
Packaging is not static. It constantly evolves with consumer’s wants and needs, regulation, and external influences.

3. You’ve obtained diva status in the packaging industry and actually been dubbed “The Packaging Diva”. How did this come about?
I’ve always stayed on top of the latest packaging innovations and industry information. Back in 1988 I was offered my first consulting job. I found out early on that people need to know about what you do, and your best brand ambassador is yourself. I’ve established a strong branding and marketing campaign, one that people remember. Packaging Diva sort of evolved and people love it. The most important thing is they never forget.

4. You’ve spoken about packaging all over the world including the White House. What was that experience like? How did you get that opportunity?
The White House gig was very interesting. I had just come back from leading a packaging trade delegation in China at the behest of Madame Wu Ganemi and President Clinton was about to leave for one. He wanted to know what the US could offer China better than any other country and of course the answer was “packaging”.

5. What is the most common problem in packaging today?
This rarely gets named as a significant problem but everything we read and hear about stems from this issue: consumers don’t understand packaging. They see is as a nemesis, not as an integral role in the fabric of their everyday lives. We (the packaging industry) do a poor job of explaining it.

6. Sustainable packaging has grown despite a weak economy. Does this evidence suggest that green packaging is here to stay?
Green packaging is here to stay for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, it makes sense to better utilize resources.

7. Do you think there is a lot of misconceptions out there as to what is green and what isn’t regarding packaging or are companies, as well as consumers, pretty well seasoned on this subject?
Consumers are totally confused and no wonder. The industry makes unsubstantiated claims, comes up with meaningless green icons, or the packaging simply doesn’t work as expected. As one global packaging R&D manager from Kraft put it: “We are about at a step one in a 25 step process”.

8. What are the big packaging trends for 2011?
We covered green but interactive and intelligent packaging is huge. Packaging that makes our lives easier by performing tasks or educating us will be in our future. I also see a huge packaging backlash driven for the most part by watchdog groups that have an agenda. Some of what they want makes sense but other groups simply are making unreasonable demands, the consumer gets caught in the middle by not understanding what is at risk, product security, and integrity in addition to cost effectiveness. What no one ever mentions is that all of this cost is added to the price that consumers pay.

9. Are there any big packaging trends beyond 2011 that you see taking the industry by storm?
Yes, my latest venture is with my partners at We are building an online packaging platform that will revolutionize the way that people buy and sell packaging. You will be able to “intelligently” connect with buyers who need your products without ever leaving your computer through the website The value add: saving time, money, and resources in connecting with someone ready to buy your products.

10. What would be your greatest piece of advice for a company who needs to package a brand new product?
Understand that consumers really want to solve an unmet need. Don’t change for the sake of change. Connect more intimately with your core customer.

For more information about the Packaging Diva visit: