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Tips to build packaging's 'voice' with management

In this Q&A session, packaging consultant John Caporaso advises companies to give packaging a seat at the senior management table, understand that packaging innovation can boost stock price, and that packaging should be leveraged to help meet consumer expectations.

Packaging Insights: How can management better utilize packaging within the company’s operations?

Caporaso: I think that the packaging department organization today is often suboptimal. The group responsible for packaging equipment is on one organization, the graphics group in another, and the development and R&D in another. This is inefficient for obvious reasons, and ultimately dilutes the voice and level of influence of packaging in a company. These functions should be organized under one senior executive, and have a seat at the senior management table. In this way, proposals for investment and funding could get the visibility commensurate with its potential impact on the business.

Packaging Insights: Beyond helping to build sales of a product, what “bottom-line” benefits can packaging provide a company?

Caporaso: Take the opportunity to go online and listen to the latest quarterly analyst meeting of your favorite publicly held food company. It is easily seen that innovation is a key component investment analysts use in projecting share price. Since so much innovation in the food business is linked to packaging, I think the management cognoscenti will increasingly get the picture, and this will ultimately be reflected to some degree in their companies’ stock price.

Packaging Insights: We’ve talked about building a case for packaging with management. What about the consumer perception of packaging?

Caporaso: Consumers have high expectations of packaging, and manufacturers have an obligation to meet them. Consumers expect their packaging to be convenient, reliable, cost-effective and environmentally responsible. I think we should add to that list the elements of delight, surprise, and satisfaction that come from using something that functions just a little bit better or provides a benefit that reflects particular insight into design, and makes the user’s day just a little brighter. We’re not just in the packaging business, we’re in the business of making peoples’ lives just a little more interesting, fun, safe, convenient, and satisfying.

Editor’s Note: “Touting packaging’s value to management” is the subject of a “First Person” Q&A in the September issue of Packaging World magazine.

John Caporaso is a packaging industry consultant with years of experience as both a packaging professional and a food scientist with companies such as Campbell Soup, Nabisco and Unilever. He is the president of Nupack LLC and can be reached at John also serves as vice president of new business development for T.H.E.M.

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