Observations, project involvements and operating experiences across the beverage market have always prompted important questions and concerns pertaining to product packaging design and the application from marketing, manufacturing and economic viewpoints. For example, a traditional slogan from marketing reads, “Packaging sells — period!”
This has been debated many times over, and has some degree of merit; however, besides considering consumer appeal and acceptance, the basic economics, eventual manufacturing and final distribution of the package can become a complex process.
Package design sources are many and varied, but usually marketing research data drives the need to design a specific product/package for sale. Initial concerns could include consumer surveys regarding desire and appeal, market demographics for short/long range life cycles, timing of introductions and degree of competition.
These concerns are important because they impact the entire supply chain — from manufacturing through distribution. Appealing designs must adhere to regulations, hope for recyclable material, provide safe and consumer friendly closures, utilize durable material for storing and handling and be economically feasible.
From an operations perspective, major issues must answer the following additional questions:
- Can the package be produced with the current manufacturing equipment’s capacity and/or capability?
- Are required materials available from suppliers and compatible with the equipment?
- Will specially trained personnel be necessary to attend, operate or maintain the packaging line?
- Will the package be safe, easy to handle and unsusceptible to damage?
Furthermore, if the equipment and materials for a new or modified package are not compatible with existing operating conditions, the alternatives become a matter of economics. How much will a new or modified package design cost? Does it comply with regulations and environmental restrictions? Are proposed materials available? Is recycling possible? Do required suppliers exist? Will capital expenditures be required? Is there adequate space to accommodate equipment and material that might be required? Is there a cost justification?
These questions represent only the start of many cost factors to be considered — and these are occurring even before design decisions are approved.
During the design phase, a somewhat hidden consideration must be given attention to ensure the designed package is successful at a final destination — the consumer. Research and experience reveal package design shortcomings can be the cause of serious user problems resulting in litigation cases involving property damage, personal injury and even death.
Therefore, a major and difficult factor during design must project how the package will be used as it is distributed and made available to a consumer in some type of retail outlet. How packages are stored, displayed and picked by the consumer should and will test accessibility, safety and durability.
Another viewpoint suggests that the design should be developed based on the consumer using the product. With both how and who, beverage package design and application should provide the consumer with a readily accessible, durable and safe product package that does not require unnecessary methods of opening either the packaging unit or the container itself.