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Shelf Impact! Jim George

FUSE: Design & Culture // Brand Identity & Packaging

The FUSE community unites the leading brand strategists, designers, creative directors and trend forecasters to explore the meaning of brands in a new world, and the role of design and trends in keeping those brands relevant for consumers. Join us to celebrate our 15th anniversary.

IIR (Institute of International Research)

White paper discusses advances in roll-fed extended content labeling

White paper from Quality Assured Label explains the recent development of roll-fed extended content labels (ECLs), also called booklet labels. Covers benefits such as the ability to increase content area by up to 200%, utilize existing materials and labeling equipment, and maintain current production line speeds.

Quality Assured

Tamper-evident shootout: which method do consumers most prefer?

White paper from Axon compares all the major types of tamper evidence, from film bands, metal pop-up closures, breakaway closures, and under-cap seals. Covers sustainable developments in replacing PVC film with alternatives.

Axon Corporation

Blue Diamond upgrades to litho p-s labels for nut butter product introduction

Learn how Blue Diamond evaluated various label options for a critical new-product introduction, and ended up with a pressure-sensitive litho-printed label from WS Packaging.

WS Packaging Group Inc.

White Paper: Which multipack style is best for your rigid container?

White paper from Roberts Polypro compares the pros and cons of three different multipack package formats for rigid primary containers: shrink wrap, paperboard and handled carriers.

Roberts PolyPro

Shelf Impact! Advisory Board

Our packaging experts help shape the content and provide independent analysis.

March 11, 2011
In This Issue


Digital package printing is, by definition, a disruptive innovation. Digital technologies have steadily evolved during the past decade, especially in the narrow-web label market.

thumbPackage Gallery

Microsoft's mouse pack clicks with $70 price point

By Jim George, Editor

Microsoft is synonymous with product innovation. Now the company is innovating through packaging as well by integrating product development with package development. A great recent example is the December 2010 introduction of the Arc Touch Mouse.

The premium, wireless mouse pops up into a curved shape for comfort during use and flattens for storage and portability. It features Microsoft's first touch-scroll strip for easy navigation by moving a finger slowly for controlled scrolling or flicking it for hyperfast scrolling.

Microsoft Corp., Redmond, WA, wanted a package that supports these advanced features—and the mouse's $70 price point. It opted for a carton that spotlights the mouse during package opening, with a graphic design that communicates the mouse's folding and arching mechanism on the carton's outer top spine.

"We solicited feedback from our subsidiaries around the world about our potential package designs," says Cathy Moya, Microsoft User Experience Manager. "We also went into people's homes in the Seattle area and watched them open the box and use the mouse."

From that research comes a fifth-panel carton, provided by Starlite Holdings Ltd. and designed with assistance from MeadWestvaco, that showcases product benefits and boasts 30% post-consumer recycled water bottle flakes in the plastic packaging components. The other 70% is virgin APET.

The mouse and accessories nestle in a tray in the primary carton. The carton is screen-printed in six colors plus a UV coating. The mouse is very thin, and it lays flat inside the package.

The molded-pulp tray, from Sun Union Environmental Packaging, slips inside a fifth-panel carton that contains a film-covered, die-cut window. The mouse is positioned in the tray so it clearly is the center of attention when the user opens the package. In addition, a photograph of the mouse is embossed on the carton's outer fifth panel, and the inner panel features a photograph of a desktop in which the mouse is displayed in "working" position.

"The goal behind the Arc Touch Mouse packaging was to 'bend the rules' on a reduced-size package, and to design it in a way that conveys the thin profile of this unique product, blending a compact design with convenience and logic," says Jill Geurts, Microsoft Structural Packaging Engineer. "It pushes us to use less materials and fewer words to communicate the value proposition of the product. It offers versatile assortment options at retail, including a hang-tab, yet a design that stands on shelves or in P-O-P displays more easily."



Digital printing: A growth industry preparing for 'click and print' in packaging

By Mike Ferrari, President, Ferrari Innovative Solutions

Digital package printing is, by definition, a disruptive innovation. Digital technologies have steadily evolved during the past decade, especially in the narrow-web label market. It is conceivable that during the upcoming Drupa 2012 show we are likely to see the next step—change in format and speed. As digital printing technologies continue to grow in capability, so too does the intersection of what's needed and what's possible.

A number of consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies that have become early adopters of digital printing are fully leveraging its potential. A successful marketing strategy will focus on the three Es: energizing consumers, enhancing brand image, and executing responsibly.


Digital printing will contribute to all three points of this model. Hobby Lobby grew candle sales by 3% with seasonal introductions, while L'Oreal introduced a line of kids shampoo using Toy Story III with digitally printed shrink sleeves. The Coca-Cola Co. held an online design contest for its Sprite brand in Israel.

There were 3.5 million visitors to the campaign Web site, and this is half the country's population. Some 20,000 cans were digitally printed with 400 different designs. Heineken introduced a loyalty program online, allowing consumers to personalize their beer bottles. The program that started as a pilot in Holland in 2009 expanded to Ireland and Spain in 2011. Heineken plans to expand the program to four more countries in 2011.

Several forces are coming together to create the "perfect storm" that will accelerate the use of digital package printing. First, CPG companies need to reignite sales growth. During the past 18 months, we've seen a number of new business approaches that have fully leveraged digital technologies to engage consumers. Second, product customization continues to accelerate SKU proliferation. Three years ago, the average U.S. supermarket contained 33,000 SKUs. Today, there are 38,000 SKUs. Third, "green" is becoming normal. Several years ago, Walmart issued a sustainability scorecard to CPG companies. Now we are seeing CPG companies bringing Walmart's sustainability programs to their suppliers, including printers. Procter & Gamble several months ago announced a long-term set of sustainability goals. The stretching metrics will need to address the problem of press start-up scrap, ink waste, and remnant scrap. All of these favor a digital printing supply chain.

Mike Ferrari is retired from Procter & Gamble. Read more of his thoughts on the coming impact of digital printing.

Photo Photo

FUSE conference goal:

Sharing the extraordinary

If you're looking for package design and branding ideas, or even inspiration for your creative team, this year's FUSE: Design & Culture | Branding Identity & Packaging conference will provide a variety of topics to meet your needs. The conference, produced by the Institute for International Research, will be April 11-13 at the Westin River North in Chicago.

Shelf Impact! again is a media partner of this year's event.

This year's featured keynote speakers and topics are:

  • Jonathan Harris, Anthropologist and co-creator of We Feel Fine, “Humans + Technology = ?”
  • Michio Kaku, Futurist, Physicist, and TV personality, “What’s Next in Business, Commerce and Finance as Indicated by the Latest Research in Science?”
  • Karim Rashid, Designer, “The Importance of Design in a New Era.”
  • Ian Schrager, Chairman & CEO, Ian Schrager Co., “On Design and Inspiration.”

This year, PROOF: Market Research for Packaging & Innovation has been integrated as preconference symposia. PROOF and a preconference workshop are scheduled for April 11 at the Art Institute. FUSE begins April 12, and will be divided into the following tracks: creative and design, brand strategy, cultural anthropology and trends, and social media. These topic areas will include speakers from Coca-Cola North America, Kimberly-Clark, Bath & Body Works, Target Stores, Procter & Gamble, Frito-Lay/Pepsico, Coty, and Benjamin Moore.

In addition, the Creative & Design track will include "champagne roundtables" holding discussions on private label, app design, and iRetail design.

View complete registration and program agenda information.

Package Gallery

A closer look at the newest trends in today's packaging.

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Off The Shelf: Olives packed as snacks

Mario Camacho Foods puts olives into snack-sized stand-up pouches. Shelf Impact! correspondent Anne Marie Mohan describes the idea behind "Olives packed loose without the juice!"

Featured Video
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Graphics, smaller cups bring Greek yogurt to kids

A brand extension can make sense in a hot category when the objective is to find new consumers and build sales. This is happening in Greek (strained) yogurt, where Agro Farma Brands, New Berlin, NY, has created a new subcategory to court kids in a segment that previously has focused on health-conscious adults.

Agro Farma's Chobani is the No. 1 yogurt brand in the Northeast, and claims half of the Greek yogurt market, which accounts for 17% of all yogurt sales, up from less than 5% two years ago. Agro Farma is looking to improve its stronghold in Greek yogurt with Chobani Champions, for 4- to 12-year-olds.

Chobani Champions is marketed in four-packs. The 3.5-oz high-density polyethylene cups are sized for children's appetites.

It's the graphics on both the cups and the sleeves, printed offset in six colors, that deliver the kid-centric message, says Niel Sandfort, Chobani brand manager. The art elements consist of photo-realistic fruit illustrations combined with a graphic depiction of the yogurt product and cup. They appear on the shrink-sleeve labels that decorate the polypropylene cups and also on the sleeves, which are made with a poly-coated paper from The Mid-York Press.

The package design, created by Ceradini Brand Design, portrays the yogurt in a fun, playful, and charming way, communicating the potential of children to become champions in their own lives. In addition, the on-pack communications build parents' trust about the product as a healthful snack.

"The packaging was designed to stand out in a sea of vivid colors and imagery now popular in the kids' section of the yogurt case," Sandfort says. "While many other yogurt brands speak directly to children, we designed our packaging to first appeal to moms."

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Kraft says 'smile' with updated Macaroni & Cheese

Get used to seeing the "smiling noodle." A refreshed look for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese cleverly uses the noodle shape as the signature element of a new visual identity for the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese masterbrand. This brandmark represents happiness, smiles, and joy, core equities that consumers associate with Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, and it gives Kraft Foods an ownable visual distinction on the crowded macaroni and cheese meal shelves.

Kraft Foods will feature this signature look across all touch-points for the brand, including packaging and advertising.

"The 'smiling noodle' is working hard for the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese brand," says Noelle O'Mara, Brand Manager, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. "Consumers have come to recognize the 'smiling noodle' design in association with our products."

The redesign is part of an overarching plan, based in part on consumer research, to update the iconic brand while also being respectful of its classic equities.

"We listened to our consumers and identified the opportunity to act as a single brand with a variety of delicious offerings, thus creating a unique brandmark to unify our portfolio and further differentiate the brand on shelf," says Hanna Midura, Kraft Foods' director of design and innovation.

Kraft Foods, working with Landor Associates Inc., updated several other Kraft Macaroni & Cheese brand elements, in addition to redesigning the packaging. Those actions included:

  • A new brand toolbox, including typography, shapes, colors, patterns, and even sound.
  • A refreshed brand architecture system to unify three subbrands—Macaroni & Cheese, Microwavable Dinner Cups, and Deluxe.
  • A more contemporized brand communication style, including a nomenclature system to support the new packaging, visual identity, and advertising.

"The new 'smiling noodle' design continues to be extended across all consumer touch points for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese," O'Mara says. "In addition to all of our blue boxes and microwavable cups, this will also include our blue box and microwavable cup multi-packs, which are sold in both retail and club channels."

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