How spam phone calls can inspire Great Packaging Designs

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How spam phone calls can inspire Great Packaging Designs

How spam phone calls can inspire great packaging designs

A call from a telemarketer spurs insights on how package designers can leverage packaging to deliver highly customized, and thus differentiated, packaging.

By Dr. R. Andrew Hurley
Contributing Editor, Packaging World

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As an Associate Professor at Clemson University, my goal for each package development class is to encourage students to take the time to flesh out a highly creative idea before opening up a CAD app or design software.

I teach students how to generate hundreds of ideas, and then to observe each idea from a new perspective—generating more ideas. After sorting through all of the ideation and merging some of the best, we have a great starting point.

The hard part is inspiration and how to convert the pains of daily life into useful resources for a project. As I struggled to connect what I wanted to write about in this article to a subject line, my phone rang. It was Corey. He asked how I was doing and if now was a good time to speak. I said, “Sure.” Then, a brief pause occurred, after which Corey began explaining how I could have solar panels installed on my roof at zero cost to me.

You’ve spoken to a Corey too. Sometimes it’s a Susan with a free cruise or an Alex with a limited-time offer to make $40 an hour working from home. These folks are bots–spam–but a new type of spam. It’s highly differentiated from the junk mail flyers and spam HTML e-mails of the recent past. They’re highly customized, pertinent-to-us calls from the local area codes and cities we live in. It got me thinking…how can we do this with packaging (but in a positive, non-spammy way)?

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I reflected on brands that struggled (and succeeded) when their target market shifted. Take, for instance, Guinness. Guinness is a 260-year-old brand, so it stands to reason that its tradition of a two-minute pint pulled in a gloomy fair-isle pub would have to update a little over the years to draw more than a niche following in the global market. The biggest challenge came from the actual product itself: Canned or bottled Guinness was an altogether different animal than its draught counterpart. The rich, creamy texture of the beer was lost when it was packaged. So, in 1988, after 20 years of experimenting, they invented the rocket widget—a plastic canister containing nitrogen and carbon dioxide that allowed the consumer to have that bar draught experience from a can, on demand. In 1999, they expanded the rocket to bottles, and the rest is beer-soaked history, thanks to better living through chemistry. And some nifty packaging.

A lot of brands make the poor choice of tampering with a classic in an effort to entice a new following—New Coke anyone? In contrast, by keeping their core asset and differentiating their packaging to segment their product, Guinness solidified their place as a strong brand for a worldwide audience.

One of my mentors, Dr. Michael Okoroafor, the Vice President of Global Sustainability and Packaging Innovation at McCormick once said something I’ll never forget: “Leverage, not innovate, your way to success.” I know this may seem polarizing to the Guinness example, where a ton of R&D budget must have gone into creating that IP, but the spice aisle certainly mixes leveraging and innovation within their development.

When I think about spices, I think about...well...spices. How can basil be priced differently at the same volumes? How can a brand “own” basil when it grows like a weed in my garden (if I water it). The strategy is simple: They leverage existing packaging technologies to differentiate their offerings.

Think about need, want, and desire as the equivalent of “good, better, best” in packaging. What do you need if a recipe requires pepper? You can buy the small, flexible bag of ground pepper—it serves the need. What do you want? Well, it’d be nice to have a dispenser in a stand-up, rigid package. Easy to hold, easy to open and close, and easy to put back. The advantages over the bag are focused around the want. What do you desire for pepper? How about a dinner-table-worthy glass structure integrated with a grinder? That would be lovely, but absolutely not necessary. When you think about need, want, and desire, it’s easier to identify audience segmentation then leverage that knowledge to differentiate your product.

Now, let’s switch categories. As the founder of Package InSight, I enjoy reading through our weekly client reports on the differences between how consumers engage with the newest packaging on the shelf. And one of my favorite categories is wine—a category dominated by design. Personally, I buy on label. Practically, my wife is not amused (and doesn’t send me out to buy wine very often, as a consequence). But, 19 Crimes is one of my favorite brands.

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During my last trip to Wine Mart, I noticed that 19 Crimes has three red blends, priced at $9.99, $13.89, and $23.49. And, as the price increases, so does the quality of the packaging. Their high-end offering, The Warden, features an incredible label stock. It’s a tactile experience laced with premium intricacies—foil on the neck label with a thick varnish layer, embossing, and raised print. I purchased all three, poured them into three shot glasses, and asked my wife to identify their value in terms of taste. But that’s a story for another article.

When I reflect on Dr. Okoroafor’s words of wisdom and the pain that Guinness must have gone through in the quest to spark new interest in their product, I think it’s essential that every package designer learn to leverage their spam phone calls. The product isn’t new, but the execution is highly customized. I took this line of thinking to LuxePack NYC this year and started asking commodity and stock packaging vendors how they differentiate their lines. I figured that with the democratization of distribution these days, Internet and drop-shipping companies might have taken significant market share from these folks. But I found the opposite. I discovered these companies are finding ways to leverage the array of already available technologies and assets to create highly customized, and thus differentiated, product packaging for brands both big and small.

My team and I at PackagingSchool.com were permitted by LuxePack to film our conversations with packaging suppliers. If you’d like to hear more of what they have to say, go here and start learning.

Dr. R. Andrew Hurley is founder of Package InSight and The Packaging School.

PackagingWorld.com article viewable here: 
https://www.packworld.com/article/package-design/strategy/how-spam-phone-calls-can-inspire-great-packaging-designs

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Own that Unboxing Experience

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Own that Unboxing Experience

Own that Unboxing Experience: E-commerce packaging in the spotlight  

To assuage consumers’ concerns over products purchased online, brand owners create their own ‘unboxing’ videos along with packaging that accommodates easy-to-assemble products.

By Dr. R. Andrew Hurley
Contributing Editor, Packaging World

As a father of two, husband, professor, and member of two businesses, I have limited free time on my hands for fun. And even less time for yard work. But after someone from the homeowner’s association dropped by to inform me that I may want to reconsider my yard maintenance strategy, I decided to take some action—by investing in a riding lawn mower complete with built-in cup holders—an essential tool for those in Suburbia Americana.

Once you have a riding lawn mower, a brave new world of tools and accessories becomes available to you. I had no idea I could play industrial farmer in real life! So, to fulfill a childhood dream of owning a yard aerator (the old, manual-style cylinder with spikes around it), I popped onto Amazon and began my quest to obtain one.

I’m not an aerator aficionado, but it hit me that there is nothing “small parcel” about a towable, spiked-roller torture device. In order to accommodate the Millennial need to procure everything online, these devices have to be radically changed to be shipped in the mail. They are now available in puzzle-piece format; they arrive at your doorstep ready to be assembled within 30 minutes (or 18 hours, depending on your mechanical abilities). As I browsed the various options, all required assembly, and most of the reviews discussed the pains of assembly, missing parts, needing to “re-engineer” components…all things that started to make me feel less comfortable about investing in something that, in all honesty, is not an essential requirement for anyone but high-school football coaches and the greenskeeper at your local country club.

But I found the “Brinly SAT-40BH Tow Behind Spike Aerator with Transport Wheels, 40-Inch” on Amazon, and the product video blew me away. Brinly figured out the pain of this sector, and their product “video” unboxed the aerator and assembled the device right before my eyes. The top review discussed how the owner was “...impressed with the economy of packing & design.”

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If you look at Google searches for “unboxing experience,” the numbers are incredibly high. These videos from the consumer side appear by the hour, and every case is a brand being represented by its customer. Brinly took a different approach—they unboxed the product for you in a way they could control—to ensure expectations were met. In a category full of green lawns and spikes slamming into yards, Brinly took the approach of showing how the pieces come out of the box and are assembled together.

With e-commerce expected to grow to 16% of retail sales in 2017, brands are rushing to make products more “frustration free” and are redeveloping for optimization within an omni-channel world. In a space like this, understanding the process of assembly upfront is an essential component to a purchase decision. That product/package interaction is now even more important in a world where you cannot physically see the goods.

With my lawn properly full of holes, it’s time to get back to the real work. Namely, starting my own branded line of Fidget Spinners (Hurley’s Whirleys, anyone?). To get in on this fad before the 15 minutes of profitability are cashed out, I’m looking into getting my own 3D printer. And, very likely, I’ll be highly influenced by a brand’s unboxing video.

I’ve used 3D printers, but never set up one from scratch, so Ultimaker’s willingness to give me a step-by-step visual (see pwgo.to/2990) from delivery to printing out my first spinner was a huge help. They even go so far as to make a set of videos, GIFs, or photos for each different product, so you know exactly how NOT to pick up your chosen printer, where it’s safe to put your hands, and the nuances of hiding a cord during setup. Add to that, Ultimaker makes sure you know the shipping package was designed to be reusable for future moving and storage of your expensive new toy. Foolproof AND sustainable—it’s like they got my letter!

These brands are giving potential buyers their own peek behind the curtain with unboxing videos, supplying them with a resource that’s part support document and part marketing asset. With online window shopping becoming the norm, it’s a smart move for companies to control their product story from the outset. As a bonus, the trend also validates all the time and energy we devote to engineering a package that not only delivers the product intact, but also provides a low-frustration, enjoyable first moment for the consumer.

Dr. R. Andrew Hurley is founder of Package InSight (www.packageinsight.com) and The Packaging School (www.packagingschool.com). He can be reached at andrew@packageinsight.com.

PackagingWorld.com article viewable here: 
https://www.packworld.com/article/package-design/strategy/own-unboxing-experience-e-commerce-packaging-spotlight

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Fail Fast

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Fail Fast

FAIL FAST 

Transcript of Podcast with
By Dr. R. Andrew Hurley

So, I’m an assistant professor at Clemson University in the department of food, nutrition and packaging sciences. While giving all I can to build my research and teaching programs and working my ass off for the prospect of tenure, I founded two businesses - primarily so I have a failsafe if I don’t make that tenure. These are living/breathing organisms that need tremendous attention. I have a wife, two children, a home and extended family. All need time, all need attention, all share urgency and triaging of issues. So, I have lots of issues to manage and little time to prove out solutions

I’ve learned the value of the MVP, the minimum viable “P” - substitute this for whatever you want, “package”, “product”, “process” whatever, its a business term that is passed around like a funny meme. In business, you’ll hear minimum viable product all the time. But being from academia - the polar opposite of “business” -- and introduced to this term in my early 30s, I’ve made this my life philosophy - In my case, it’s the minimum viable path - test ideas quickly, fail fast, move on. Just like when a kid learns to ride a bike, the more comfortable he gets with falling, the more confident he becomes in riding – and that’s all riding a bike really is, confidence in your own balance.

Just like everyone listening to this, we have no time. Most of us have negative time - obligating ourselves to too much and inevitably giving important tasks sub-par attention. Doesn’t matter - work/job/life - we’ll pick (sometimes random) tasks to give too much attention, and others too little. It’s this sinusoidal process in which we all live within...but we generally don’t embrace it. Problems can really become opportunities if we take a moment to think about leveraging them.

I was in Brazil not too long ago at a packaging conference, where I noticed an unusual trend - new companies were presenting their products, startups, and package redesigns --- and all shared this radical new concept - 12-15 week market launches. I was blown away - once they had proof of concept, they were in market within a quarter.

I work with plenty of global CPGs (or FMCGs depending on who is listening) with 2 year timelines. A couple million in R&D and the inevitable 90%+ failure rate of consumer products after 36 months in market.

It hit me that this Brazilian creativity is literally the MVP - the least you need to get your product to market as fast as possible. Statistically speaking, it’s going to fail. So why not embrace this - fail fast, spend less, reduce your holdup in lost opportunity costs. If it is one of the few winners, you’ll have more useful data than you could ever imagine to put a multiplier on sales next year. If it fails, it will be fast - fast in that you invested the minimum time and resources needed to get to market. Were the designs perfect from these brazilian companies? Nope. But, they focused on communicating the value and clearly differentiating from the competition.

This thinking, though simple, this can be lost in the NAFTA/Euro lengthy stage-gate processes. What pain does this product solve and how it is different from the other opportunities? With 12-15 weeks - you have limited time to create, so, you keep it simple. It either works or it does not. If it works - you’ll have set risk aside to justify a major packaging and branding overhaul.

I’m certain many of you may be thinking that a 12-15 week launch sounds ridiculous - but if you lean less on risk mitigation and more on your suppliers for support - bringing key stakeholders into the room for that kickstart meeting and delegating out to vendors, this is a sound strategy. You’ll be less flexible of course, but suppliers often act differently when they feel like they are a partner. Sometimes design and consumer testing is needed - absolutely do quick turn-around, in-context biometric testing. We do this for companies everyday at Package InSight. Within a week, we can correlate attention and sales to design - helping you pick the right materials, design and messaging for your products with your target audience in mind.

Another method is education. Trial, error, and R&D are embraced in our culture - but there are proven methods, proven materials, and proven practices. A personal hero of mine, Dr. Michael Okoroafor, a tremendously successful packaging professional once told me,  “Why innovate when you can leverage your way to success.” Leverage core, fundamental knowledge. At Clemson and PackagingSchool.com - I focus on this methodology of teaching - what do you need to know to make sound, proven, and quick decisions within the packaging and product development space?

In the end, we all have success as our primary target. It’s defined many different ways, but one way is to rethink the ways we do things on a continual basis, Rethinking ways of doing the same thing may literally be the definition of creativity. If we embrace the MVP, or embrace failing fast, we’ll get there faster, more efficiently, and with less pain. When you embrace this methodology, falls don’t hurt as much, and we can get back on the bike and keep going…

https://www.packagingschool.com/blog/2017/2/1/fail-fast-podcast-1

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Bottom-up done well

Bottom-up done well - Part 2 of 2 

Give your consumers a reason to use bottom-up processing—or go off autopilot—when viewing your products on-shelf by creating disruptive packaging design.

By Dr. R. Andrew Hurley
Contributing Editor, Packaging World

The white paperboard milk carton is as top-down as you can get—but NOT in the cereal aisle. When the California milk consortium that brought us the famous “Got Milk?” campaign decided to expand their influence into products that encourage milk consumption, cereal was a sure bet. In the aisle of big, flat rectangles and gusseted flex bags, the iconic gabletop milk-carton shape becomes a great disruptor while reminding you that you do not, in fact, “Got Milk.”

When your whole planogram is dominated by bright, shiny packaging, heading in the opposite direction can be disruptive. Even though I feel generally impervious in a normal grocery store setting, I found myself stopping recently to take a second look at the Buck Wild chips bag.

The matte-black film and package-dominating logo may be the antithesis of textbook design direction, but the bags definitely draw your attention when you’re scanning the chip aisle. And they automatically feel a little more premium. It was just what was needed to drop-kick top-down processing and throw a little bottom-up in your face.

One of the best ways to force bottom-up processing is to construct a visual question: What are you seeing? And to ensure a bottom-up response, make that question impossible to answer. Amor wine’s label and secondary packaging offer shoppers two images simultaneously: the classic Mexican sugar skull and a happy couple enjoying a bottle of wine (or an example of “reversible figure/ground” in Human Factors speak). This visual disconnect is classic—a true disruptor that forces the viewer to consider the two options. The longer someone is entranced by your packaging graphics, the more likely they’ll be to give it a try. And this design glows in the dark. After the zombie apocalypse, this will be the one bottle of wine customers can immediately identify in the darkened grocery store.

To help you navigate these murky waters (and the impending zombie apocalypse), The Packaging School has created an online course on the Human Factors that impact packaging design. Specifically, we discuss over 60 examples like figure/ground relationships, geometric rules, design hierarchy techniques, and 57 more amazing things. It’ll give you insight into how we use our senses to process the information we are bombarded with every day, and some tips and tricks to turn expectations on their ear. We’ll help you incorporate disruption into your packaging design and encourage the bottom-up processing that will make your product jump off the shelf. Check it out for yourself.  

Dr. R. Andrew Hurley is Assistant Professor of Packaging Science, Clemson University, and founder of Package InSight and The Packaging School. He can be reached at andrew@packageinsight.com

https://www.packworld.com/article/package-design/strategy/disrupting-shelf-bottom

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Disrupting the shelf – from the bottom up

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Disrupting the shelf – from the bottom up

Disrupting the shelf – from the bottom up - Part 1 of 2 

Give your consumers a reason to use bottom-up processing—or go off autopilot—when viewing your products on-shelf by creating disruptive packaging design.

By Dr. R. Andrew Hurley
Contributing Editor, Packaging World

I was recently in Jamaica with my small family, and we’d moved beyond the familiar tourist areas and into the more rural countryside of the tropical paradise. As is typical when traveling with small children, their base needs have an oversized (and often disruptive) influence on any perfectly planned agenda.

Par for the course, I suddenly found myself in very unfamiliar territory attempting to locate and buy milk for my three-year-old son. We got lucky with a small market on a beautiful hillside vista, but as soon as I walked inside, I was in a world wholly unfamiliar to my U.S.-based consumer navigation skills. I was hyper-aware of everything, using nearly all of my senses to identify where I was and what was around me. I was paying attention to the details of the packs and the signage, absorbing everything at once. My attention was correlated with my final purchase. And then it hit me: I was suddenly the subject of my own curriculum—I was experiencing bottom-up processing. This is the state of mind you want your customers in when engaging with your packaging.

A week later, I’m back in the States doing the same thing. Except, I know where milk is in my local store. And to backtrack a bit further, my commute to the store was equally uneventful. I left my house and found myself in a parking lot—your typical top-down processing event. This is how our brain likes to work: minimal effort, autopilot, conservation of energy. It’s psychology 101. In a common “visual sensory processing” lecture, students learn about the two sensory processing states: top down and bottom up.

Top-down processing is based on expectations, desires, and knowledge. Think about buying milk at your local store. You know where it should be, what it should look like, etc., and your brain “fills in the gaps” on things you don’t actually look at. Consider that you dnot need all the ltetres of wrdos to be in the croerct odrer to raed a snetncee. Top-down processing helps here, but if English was a second language to you, this would be difficult. Your knowledge of English and your expectations of sentence structure fill in the gaps.

Bottom-up processing is when your brain is actively engaging your senses to process the world around you. It is triggered when something disrupts the top-down automation of your typical life. Something stands out or presents an argument that has multiple positive answers; it overrides your brain’s natural autopilot. Bottom-up processing is when we stop and take a look—either in a foreign store or if an accident occurs during your daily commute—you become hyper-aware of your surroundings. This is where we want our customers to be. In a sea of products (the average grocery store has 39,500 products, and the average supercenter has 120,000), we actually see less than 3% of what’s offered.

So, unseen is unsold, but to be seen requires disruption. As distribution and fulfillment are commoditized through outlets like Amazon, Jet, etsy, and whatever tomorrow’s thing is, presenting a design that encourages bottom-up processing is not just advantageous, it’s a necessity. That’s why “disruption” has been a topic of the past 15 packaging conferences I’ve attended.

About now you might be asking yourself, “Self, what can I do to create a disruptive design?” Essentially, you must be willing to intelligently break the rules. This can be done in subtle ways, or with outrageous abandon, but it can’t be noncommittal. So, let me tease you with a few items that you can use to rethink how you can punch top-down processing in the face and leverage bottom-up processing within your designs.

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Give more than you get

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Give more than you get

Give more than you get - Part 2 of 2 

Ben Franklin advised that allowing someone to do you a favor makes them more favorably disposed toward you. Find out how CPGs are using this tactic with consumers.

By Dr. R. Andrew Hurley
Contributing Editor, Packaging World

In 2012, Frito-Lay wanted to rejuvenate their 75-year-old Lay’s Potato Chips brand. The company created a Facebook campaign and app called, “Do us a Flavor,” and asked consumers to define the next chip flavor. After doing so, the app generated a bag image with the “new” flavor that consumers could share on their own social channels to get their friends involved. The results were mind-blowing: 3.8 million submissions and a 12% increase in sales. Frito-Lay has now grown the program and expanded it across multiple regions.

An authentic request to your target market needs to feel genuine. The request needs to be small, quickly completed, and in the interest of your audience. The quick engage-and-share of the Lay’s campaign offered the consumer a small reward for a quick investment of time. Creating an app and a campaign around this sort of idea is far from easy, but part of the idea behind your customers doing you a favor involves you giving more than you get.

Jones Soda has been engaging users online since the dawn of social media. They started in 2004 asking fans to upload photos to an online gallery. If the company likes your photo, they’ll print it on an upcoming label run. That online gallery currently houses roughly 1.3 million consumer images. That’s a lot of interaction. The campaign has been so successful that Jones expanded their offerings to include user-customized cases of soda with the consumer’s name and label design.

Many brands have devised less direct ways to ask their favors by designing sharable packaging and products. Examples of this include Twix’s double bar “sharing size” products and Walker’s Tear and Share Crisps (PepsiCo’s Lay’s brand in the U.K.). By making it more convenient to enjoy their products with a friend, these companies are specifically using their packaging to create brand ambassadors.

And in other cases, packaging can be used to ask the consumer to think differently and more sustainably about the product. Take GreenBox for instance. Instead of using the same common recycled-materials mantras, pizza delivered in GreenBox packaging comes with a request: Break the 100% recycled box into components and use them as plates for four and as a space-saving container for leftovers. By doing this favor, the consumer wins too. They save at cleanup, and they cut down the waste from plates and leftover containers.

In the end, it’s about engaging with people and asking them to contribute effort on your behalf. When considering something new, reach out to your customer base for their opinions; ask them for a small favor of help. Taking quick quizzes, completing surveys, and sharing their ideas on social media are easy ways to accomplish this goal. It makes them feel more invested in your brand, because they wouldn’t take the time to do you these favors unless they really liked you. Right, Ben?

Dr. R. Andrew Hurley is Assistant Professor of Packaging Science, Clemson University, and founder of Package InSight and The Packaging School. He can be reached at andrew@packageinsight.com. 

https://www.packworld.com/article/package-design/strategy/why-you-should-let-ben-franklin-help-design-your-next-package

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Why you should let Ben Franklin help design your next package

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Why you should let Ben Franklin help design your next package

Why you should let Ben Franklin help design your next package - Part 1 of 2 

Ben Franklin advised that allowing someone to do you a favor makes them more favorably disposed toward you. Find out how CPGs are using this tactic with consumers.

By Dr. R. Andrew Hurley
Contributing Editor, Packaging World

Ben Franklin is better known as the guy on the $100 bill. It’s our highest denomination, our most valuable piece of paper, and this guy, born one of 17 children to poor parents, made his way to the pinnacle of our attention today, 200 years after his death. How? Simply put, Franklin was keen to social cues and practiced the social analytics of trial and error. Ultimately, he developed a secret weapon that many of us have either forgotten or are simply unaware of: unreciprocated favors.

In his autobiography, Franklin tells a story about how he dealt with a political opponent who was outspoken against him. In an attempt to realign this politician’s views, Franklin sent him a letter concerning a rare and interesting book that he overheard the politician say he owned, and asked to borrow it for a few days. The opponent sent it immediately, and Franklin returned the book a week later with a thank you note. The next time they met, the opponent spoke to Franklin directly for the first time with camaraderie and expressed a “readiness to serve [Franklin] on all occasions.” The two continued a friendship until his death.

Said Franklin, “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.”

So, what does this mean? A person who has performed a favor for someone is more likely to do another than if they received a favor from that person. Basically, we subconsciously connect our help for the person with the fact that we must like them. The opposite also holds true: We start to hate a person to whom we have committed some wrong. We often humanize things, or dehumanize them, based on our own actions.

The Ben Franklin effect has been proven through many scientific research studies over the past 100 years. Social behavioral experiments to MRI scans all show that this is an incredibly powerful effect. So, why write about it here? And how can you leverage it?

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Packaging Challenge at the Advanced Design and Manufacturing Expo

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Packaging Challenge at the Advanced Design and Manufacturing Expo

Advanced Design and Manufacturing Expo 

By Julie Rice, PhD Candidate, Food Technology  @ Clemson University

At the Advanced Design and Manufacturing Conference (ADMexpo), Northeast Ohio’s only comprehensive design and manufacturing event, I was honored to be selected to head an interactive packaging redesign session. This two-day conference was designed to give engineers and executives access to the latest solutions in the product development process. It was jam packed with a myriad of events from various sectors of the field, including educational opportunities and networking events.  With over 60 speakers at the event, there was a great deal to be learned in various industries such as robotics, automation, plastics, packaging, and design technology.  

Tesla-CTO

Amongst the exciting speakers was JB Straubel, Co-Founder and CTO of Tesla Motors, who spoke on the disruptive shifts that electric vehicles, solar power, and battery energy storage are bringing to the design and manufacturing sector. During his presentation, UBM (the event producer) had a professional artist illustrate Straubel's talking points in true infographic format on a giant notecard for all attendees to see. 

pictorial-map-manufacturing-infographic
 

45-Minute Packaging Challenge

In the sea of greatness surrounding me at ADMexpo, I hoped that attendees would come away from my 45-minute packaging challenge ready to submit a patent before their plane trip home. My interactive session focused on how to solve problems like a genius (cue JB Straubel) and how to tackle the daunting task of creative thinking and brainstorming using two techniques: SCAMPER and brain writing.  

SCAMPER-brainstorming-technique

SCAMPER is an acronym for manipulating and improving any current idea into something different, standing for: Substitute something, Combine it with something else, Adapt something to it, Modify or magnify it, Put it to another use, Eliminate something, and Reverse or rearrange it.  After breaking into groups, exchanging business cards, and getting acquainted, the teams were asked to use this technique to redesign rice packaging. While a plethora of great ideas were generated in only 10 minutes, my favorites included: a rice back pack displayed vertically for easy grab and go at retail, a boil-in-bag package that will disintegrate when it hits hot water to prevent excess packaging waste, and a rice box divided into different rooms, each containing a serving of rice to help prevent food waste and eliminate the need for measuring cups. 

Following this exercise, we dived right into brain writing, a rapid idea generation tool that lends itself to a broad spectrum of ideas while letting everyone in the crowd be heard.  Instead of simply collecting idea cards, participants passed their cards to other members of the audience, where they then could jot comments or additions on the cards before passing them along to the next person.  After a quick 10 minutes went by, the audience had a stack of notecards as thick as JB Straubel’s lunch money. A few of my favorite cards are featured below.

Brainwriting-Packaging

Thinking back on this session, I am beyond impressed by the ideas generated in such a short period of time.  By forcing the audience to think differently and break out of their comfort zones, they were able to come up with many innovative ideas. Maybe the next great idea is right in front of us? I sure hope so, and I will keep scanning the US Patent and Tradmark office website to find out.

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Package InSight : Custom Thermometer

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Package InSight : Custom Thermometer

Mintel Reports - Tangible Application
Part 2 of 2

Congratulations! You have captured a fickle muse - inspiration can be hard to come by, but through your dedication to lifelong learning and paying attention the interaction of disparate worlds around you there is at last an idea - or better yet - a full slew of ideas with potential to find an audience, recapture territory, create lift, or expand markets!  

You've recognized an opportunity and will seize the moment to embrace the changes afoot. We all know making that change a reality is not an easy path, we have costs to consider, bureaucracy to navigate, and stakeholder judgments on risk/reward to anticipate.  In the end your change is represented by a single unit, a tangible product on shelf, wrapped in your best efforts of efficient and effective aesthetic. Let's hope the package on shelf is not actually a horse designed by committee (LINK).

To avoid the chaotic path, we need aids, insights, and evidence; a communicable process of thought, creation, testing, failing, iteration, and improvement. It is here that the work and product of Package InSight research services offers a highly valuable asset: metrics for performance. Specific to your product, your channel, your competitive planogram we can test a consumer's perspective of these new ideas and help you determine which are worthy of the next stage of launch toward production.  Further, as you show others how and why you've applied your ideas, our data will help demonstrate their impact.   

 

"FAIL FAST" PODCAST,
DR. R. ANDREW HURLEY

 

Package InSight listens to understand your perspective and works with you to coordinate specific research questions and goals. We help create prototypes, we replicate a competitive planogram, we recruit folks from your target market(s) as participants, and we use technology to measure their behavior as the shop an in-context retail environment.  We do this for each part of your research question and then statistically compare aggregated metrics for a consumer's time and attention. The result is a comprehensive understanding of what drives consumer visual attention and clear ranking of you against the competition. You will know - and better yet, but able to clearly help others understand - what application of your idea holds the most promise on shelf.   

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Mintel : Global Pulse Monitor

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Mintel : Global Pulse Monitor

Mintel Reports - Tangible Application
Part 1 of 2

If you are in interested in consumer goods you've very likely heard of Mintel; the world’s leading market intelligence agency, with multiple offices on five continents. Clearly an organization with global reach - these offices coordinate thousands of local shoppers, who independently gather data and analysis on packages as they exist in stores every day.  Ever vigilant and attentive to the market - the Mintel operation adds more than 1,000 products a day, more than 33,000 products every month to the "Global New Product Database." In-depth analysis of brand, product, package, graphics, messaging, ingredients, channel, position, and 72 more data points are part of the first level review.

The Mintel machine works at a productive tempo faster than 1 new product every 90 seconds - all day and all night - and that's just the gathering of raw data. Then there's the analysis; a true test of big data comprehension, racked and stacked - sliced and diced, with weather satellite perspectives ranging from the 40,000 foot market view to the 4 foot planogram deep dive for a single SKU - all with the same degrees, minutes, and seconds position coordinates of said satellite. Impressive, in-action and constantly improving for over 40 years the Mintel approach is a influential and inspirational.  Now how can you use it?  

A great way to start is with the recent "Mintel Global Food and Drink Trends 2017" [LINK] - click the image above, fill out the form, and download the free 22 page report - which will walk you through the Mintel research approach and will explain the relevance of all images above and titles below:

  • In Tradition We trust
  • Power to the Plants
  • Waste Not
  • Time is of the Essence
  • The Night Shift
  • Balancing the Scales: Health for Everyone

Now that you've learned something it's up to you to apply it to your special place in the world. With an understanding on how the consumer is engaging with the market today - you are better prepared to initiate and effect your own product ideas - both new and improved.  Brand origins to communicate, trust to establish, enhancements in quality, fusions in taste, refinements in packaging for utility and presentation, tiers in pricing, and competitive positioning - all favorable fields for plowing as you move into next iteration of capturing and retaining consumer interest and fulfilment.  

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Cognitive dissonance and unboxing

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Cognitive dissonance and unboxing

Cognitive dissonance and the point of minimum justification - Part 3 of 3

By Dr. R. Andrew Hurley
Contributing Editor, Packaging World

The theory of cognitive dissonance is even a factor in the booming e-commerce side of the industry. With powerhouse sites like Amazon.com and Walmart.com shipping anything and everything, how do smaller companies nail down repeat customers? It’s not only by convincing consumers that they really need their product, but also ensuring they have a pleasurable experience at the moment of unboxing.

One great example of an e-commerce retailer that is killing it in this department is BarkBox. We’ve all gotten comfortable with the idea of subscription boxes; you can get them for clothing, wine, even artisan jerky—anything to appease our human desires. For some people, the idea of paying a subscription fee to have dog toys delivered on a regular schedule is ridiculous. BarkBox solves this problem by allowing current customers to order “gift” boxes for their four-legged friends.

In the classic notion of “First one’s free,” once you open the box, you’re hooked. The interior of each themed box is wrapped with dog-doodled tissue, and included with the selection of treats and toys is a short fold-out marketing piece explaining the theme, or pushing a social media call-to-action (to show off what a great pet-parent you are). The product offerings are either Bark & Co brand or small “artisan” snacks from around the country, giving the consumer the feel-good boost of buying “locally,” even if it’s on a global scale. And to further temper that idea of cognitive dissonance, dogs, surprisingly, seem to really enjoy getting mail. So, I trust the company to curate good-quality products, I avoid the store, and the dog is happy and occupied! Still sound ridiculous? Well, they exceeded $100 million dollars in revenue in 2016, and they sell products sight-unseen each month, so they’ve obviously got something figured out.

The true trick here is riding that fine line between overt manipulation and a subconscious suggestion that your product will enrich the life of the consumer. A “good deal” will sell your product once, but a good feeling will create a long-term customer. How do you find that line, that minimum point of justification? Consumer testing. Specifically, quantitative consumer testing, via biometric eye- and emotion-tracking technology. While traditional qualitative and quantitative testing queries a prospective customer’s self-reported thoughts, emotion- and eye-tracking technologies allow you to see how a customer feels and reacts to your product. For a more in-depth look at emotion tracking and its ability to illuminate consumer feelings about e-commerce packaging, read a case study from Package InSight and Pregis.

Dr. R. Andrew Hurley is Assistant Professor of Packaging Science, Clemson University, and founder of Package InSight and The Packaging School.

http://www.packworld.com/package-design/strategy/cognitive-dissonance-and-point-minimum-justification 

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A more subtle approach

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A more subtle approach

Cognitive dissonance and the point of minimum justification - Part 2 of 3

By Dr. R. Andrew Hurley
Contributing Editor, Packaging World

So, why is this a controversial practice (diamonds)? As far as the Helzberg approach, it’s quite bold to blatantly take advantage of our subconscious feelings of inadequacy. But, in other everyday categories, this has been employed in a much more subtle way. Take everybody’s favorite guilty pleasure for example, ice cream.

You’re wandering down the frozen dessert aisle, perusing the vast variety of ice cream offerings. Aside from a few outliers, there are only a dozen or so flavors represented, so how do brands distinguish themselves? One way is the “super premium” promise, and here is where the cognitive dissonance comes into play. Super-premium ice cream is packaged in pints, whereas store brands and more conventional ice creams are packaged in 1.5-quart to half-gallon sizes, and in most cases, those pints only cost 10% to 20% less than the much larger sizes. Common sense says that the larger size is obviously a better value, so cognitive dissonance is created because, regardless of value, you’re still inexplicably drawn to the pint.

Maybe it’s a holdover from more amazing jewelry marketing—the “good things come in small packages” idea. The packaging is key here: Does the pint hold a more premium product? Maybe. But is it enough to truly justify the price point? Probably not. So, to alleviate this dissonance, the consumer has to make a self-justification—they deserve it. They want to live a super-premium life, and the absolute easiest way to achieve that is by splurging on a richer, more satisfying dessert. As a bonus, the smaller package size makes it easier to convince yourself it’s actually the healthier choice. Dissonance averted.

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Cognitive Dissonance and the point of minimum justification

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Cognitive Dissonance and the point of minimum justification

Cognitive dissonance and the point of minimum justification - Part 1 of 3

Creating cognitive dissonance through your packaging and offering a minimum point of justification can result in positive feelings for the consumer about purchasing your product.

By Dr. R. Andrew Hurley
Contributing Editor, Packaging World

An important element of human behavior is the idea of reward. Even with products that are essential to our everyday lives, we want to feel that we’ve somehow “won”; we’ve beat the system, solved a problem, alleviated a stressor, or just accepted that we deserve a treat. As marketers, we have a number of tools at our disposal to capitalize on these feelings, and one (somewhat controversial) method is the purposeful creation of cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is defined as the state of having inconsistent cognitions—thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes—especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change. For example, if cognitions agree, there is consonance. But, when cognitions disagree, there is dissonance, and dissonance results in stress. We’ll do everything we can to mitigate dissonance and return to consonance. Think of your last disagreement with your partner; the desire to convert thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes to your way of thinking is powerful. If you can achieve this, you feel relieved, and more importantly ... rewarded.

So, how do marketers use this? A well-published example of cognitive dissonance is a promotion for diamonds. There is a lot of conspiracy surrounding the diamond industry—and they don’t help themselves with their highly dissonant roots in statements like, “a diamond is forever.” This anchoring into “forever” trumps just about every other option, but I digress. In an ad from Helzberg Diamonds, the leading message is “Make her ask, ‘What have you done with my husband?’” When read, dissonance immediately sneaks in, making the reader question whether he is a good husband. This type of stress happens routinely, and we quickly find methods of mitigating the stress and moving on. But, there is a little line of sub copy under the diamond pendant in the ad. It says, “over 500 gifts under $100.”

This is it! The 500 gifts under $100 is the real diamond here; it’s the “point of minimum justification” that is critical to successfully incentivizing a behavior change through cognitive dissonance. The 500 options immediately alleviate any initial worry of breaking the bank to please your partner. The stress is gone and back to consonance. You should know that the purpose of this ad was not to sell the diamond pendant pictured. The purpose was to change your cognitions (beliefs, attitudes, and thoughts) about buying diamonds; to create dissonance, then provide the minimum justified incentive to change your behavior. Spending more than the point of minimum justification trades your effort (or payment) for the dissonance, which typically does not result in a behavior change. But paying at this magic point not only alleviates the dissonance, but it also has the potential to change your beliefs, attitudes, and thoughts around the activity itself.

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Choosing the chunks

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Choosing the chunks

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication - Part 3 of 3

By Dr. R. Andrew Hurley
Contributing Editor, Packaging World

How do you determine what your most crucial five to nine selling points should be? The brand owner has one list, the strategy team another, and the design team has an entirely separate focus. The best way to analyze your design is to let your consumers show you what works, before you go into full production. Quantitative consumer testing, like eye tracking and emotion mapping, can be an invaluable window into how the everyday shopper quickly perceives your package. By tracking the shopper’s gaze, you can instantly determine what “chunks” of your packaging garner the most attention, and how your product stands up against others on the crowded retail shelf.

If your audience only has seven seconds to make a memory before they are on to the next flight of fancy, be sure your packaging is simple and impactful. If you have any questions on how exactly to improve your product’s recall factor, I’d love to hear them.

Dr. R. Andrew Hurley is Assistant Professor of Packaging Science, Clemson University, and founder of Package InSight and The Packaging School.

http://www.packworld.com/package-design/strategy/simplicity-ultimate-sophistication

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The Magical Number

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The Magical Number

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication - Part 2 of 3

By Dr. R. Andrew Hurley
Contributing Editor, Packaging World

In 1956, George A. Miller published a very famous psychology paper, “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information.” In it he posed that working memory has a limit: “seven, plus or minus two chunks.” That’s five to nine “chunks” of information or units of memory input. Think of your phone number. (Well, think of the last phone number you had to memorize. Thanks, Siri!) We further “chunk” the seven unique digits into shorter strings of three and four. This isn’t accidental. It’s psychology.

So, how is this illustrated in packaging design? da Vinci said it best: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” The more you can simplify and reduce chunking on your packaging, the more attractive it will be, and ultimately, the longer it will be held in active (working) memory. For instance, your packaging design might include a logo, a brand name, a product name, a picture of the product, a window revealing the product, the serving size, and vital directions. Those seven pieces of information (plus or minus two) will land you in the sweet spot for quick consumption by the consumer in a retail setting. Simple designs are found faster and viewed longer than complex designs.

Consider two lobster bisque packages: one from Gil’s Gourmet and one from Publix. I have nothing against the label for Gil’s Gourmet’s Artichoke and Lobster Bisque, which features two suspicious French lobsters holding fork (a fork, for bisque?) and spoon, in front of 60-ft-tall artichokes. But when I compare the packaging to Publix’s simpler Lobster Bisque, I’m struggling to find what value Gil’s 13 chunks of information bring to the table. Outside of the simple view of the bisque, the brand, and the name of the product, what does the extra gain?

I actually feel horrible to put Gil’s Gourmet under the spotlight, because they are one of the 93% of products on the shelf where the design was not leveraged as a strategic aspect of the packaging.

Consider Mika Kañive’s Frts & Ygrt concept package for a fruit and yogurt product. With approximately three chunks of information, the product is easy to understand, and, by taking out letters in the name, it can still be phonetically pronounced in English and Spanish.

But, even when you apply the rule correctly, you’ll still not stay in working memory indefinitely. The half-life for working memory (the time it takes for the impact of the sensory input to be reduced by half) is just a measly seven seconds for a store of three chunks. What becomes interesting in research of half-life memory is what happens when you’re able to reduce memory chunking to one: The half-life increases to 70 seconds. That’s over one minute of top-of-mind consideration! As your brand becomes more desirable and a staple of the category, consider the idea of one-chunk reduction. When I say Starbucks, Nike, McDonald’s, and Apple, usually just one chunk of info bubbles up from your long-term memory.

In the same vein, long-term memory can be exploited to confuse. It’s not a rock-solid system. Just as easily as we can forget a digit in a phone number, we can quickly mis-associate a brand, product, and/or an offering. Knock-offs and counterfeit products deftly mimic colors, fonts, graphics, and layout of more popular brands to short-circuit your memory and distract you into buying something outside your norm.

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Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

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Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication - Part 1 of 3 

Memory may be responsible for driving more sales than you think. What do you want consumers to remember? 

By Dr. R. Andrew Hurley
Contributing Editor, Packaging World

Our brains employ two major working memory-processing systems that define how we act and react in life. The first system, the visuospatial sketchpad, records the visual stimuli that are all around us. This makes us aware there is an aisle with products and a POP display in front of us, so we don’t run into it. The phonological loop keeps in mind information that is not visual, things like numbers and information we want to be aware of, and repeats this information to keep it active in our working memory. These systems are important; they help us function throughout the day without running into walls, they keep us from forgetting things moment to moment, and they enable us to advance in our life and get things done.

But these systems do have limits. We can’t remember everything and keep all relevant information top of mind. When we become overtaxed with information, we mentally bail; when we are understimulated, we become bored and apathetic. And even if you’re a dedicated and trained shopper, retail is one of the most highly visually stimulating places I can think of. But, don’t fret; your packaging can make an impression as long as you know the rules of the memory game.

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