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 mfg.com. 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 http://mfg.com/packaging. 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:

http://www.packagingdiva.com

Sustainable Packaging Forms an Organization

Sustainable packaging is now getting a voice on issues related to green packaging. Big companies have joined forces to help make the packaging industry more eco-friendly. ConAgra, Colgate-Palmolive, DuPont, Kellogg, and Proctor & Gamble are among the companies that have formed AMERIPEN, The American Institute for Packaging and the Environment. This organization plans to lobby for science-driven packaging policies and reach out to others to find ways to work together. The key issues are to find ways to improve sustainability of packaging and how to reduce waste.

AMERIPEN is trying to enhance sustainability initiatives and help save the environment by producing eco-friendly packaging. The efforts in finding ways to reduce waste and minimizing the impact on the environment are the two of the main reasons this organization was formed. They also hope to play the role of influencing opinion leaders to further improve the packaging industry’s value chain. The packaging value chain is rapidly changing as eco-friendly and sustainable trends are among us. As we become a society trying to find ways to save our environment, AMERIPEN is here to do their part, within the packaging industry.

Top Packaging Trends for 2011

As 2010 comes to an end, and a new year is about to begin, many things in our world are about to change. The packaging industry, for example, is expecting changes for 2011. As technology advances rapidly, a push for sustainability is expected to grow. The possibilities for the packaging industry are endless for 2011 with new innovations becoming present everyday.

Here are the top trends for 2011:

1. The attraction of design: The purpose of design is to communicate with the consumer and entice them to purchase. Understanding the customer and what they want is the key to this trend.

2. The color of 2011 is green: Demand for eco-friendly and sustainable options in packaging is increasing. Consumers are more apt to buy products made from eco-friendly materials and/or eco-friendly practices and processes. Energy saving, water saving, material reduction, and recyclability are just a few examples of how eco-friendliness is getting incorporated in the packaging industry. The idea is to lessen their impact on the environment and look for innovative ways to do so.

3. Robots are coming: Automated technology is always improving. The ability for this technology to be used in the packaging industry helps to improve production and lower costs.

4. A digital world calls for digital printing: Digital printing is a method of printing that is done from a digital based image. This process allows for shorter production runs, flexibility, and rapid turnaround. Digital printing will increase in versatility and application in 2011.

5. These aren’t your average tags: Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is a technology that uses communication via radio waves to exchange data between a reader and an electronic tag attached to an object. The purpose of these tags is to identify and track. It provides security and authenticity. This will be a common feature on packages. QR codes and M Tags are new applications that are becoming apart of packaging. These tags are a different type of tag that incorporate mobile phones and allows businesses to increase exposure.

6. Customization is key: Companies are looking for ways to set themselves apart from others. That is where customization comes into play. Packaging is the first thing a customer sees when buying a product. Unique packaging allows a business to grasp the attention of customers. By having the option to customize packaging, companies have a million possibilities at their disposal.

The new year holds positive trends for the packaging industry as well as a positive outlook. The packaging industry continues to grow and has a world of potential for 2011.

Packaging Successes

Successful packaging can lead to increased sales, monetary savings and a more positive public image. The following are some examples of packaging successes and their outcomes. Now would be a good time to take notes.

Successful-Packaging-Wal-mart-EnviroShellWal-Mart – a company that is known for attracting negative publicity but has been working toward sustainability – received positive attention recently for choosing Winterborne as their packaging provider. Winterborne was awarded a Converting 2007 Innovator Award for its EnviroShell package. EnviroShell is a 90 percent recyclable and recycled clamshell and the use of this packaging product reflected positively on Wal-Mart in the news media. The take-away? Sustainable packaging has benefits for the environment and for your business image.

Successful-Packaging-VaselineVaseline recently redesigned its brand through a packaging change. Prior to the change, the brand’s identity had been lost as it expanded. Different products in the Vaseline line had different logos and package designs and there was a lack of consistency. Blue Marlin stepped in and created a consistent, attractive, brand-cohesive logo that would stand for all Vaseline products. Blue Marlin made sure that each Vaseline product included classic blue plastic lids and they put a great deal of effort into matching the color of the logo to the blue plastic lids. Vaseline is now the fastest-growing personal care brand for its parent company, Unilever. What’s the take-away here? A strong, consistent brand combined with refreshing packaging can lead to an increase in sales for your business.

Successful-Packaging-Mrs-Fields-CookiesMrs. Fields revamped its retail packaging to reflect a design similar to the redesigned Mrs. Fields stores nationwide and to play on the nostalgia associated with the brand. Tempting shots of cookies adorn the new packaging, which is now more consistent with the Mrs. Fields brand. This new packaging has earned positive reactions from media sources, especially within the packaging industry, appearing in such magazines as Packaging World. The take-away? Refreshing your packaging can strengthen your brand image and generate recognition for your company!

Get to know the message behind your brand and whether your packaging reflects that. Not every product needs repackaging, but, as in these cases, refreshing your packaging may lead to positive consequences for your company and brand.