Packaging has been under significant scrutiny for some time, absorbing a lot of negative press about what needs to be fixed—namely eliminating packaging as waste. And we all want to achieve this goal. Even so, packaging is important and provides significantly more value than most people realize.
Packaging provides many real and perceived benefits to the product itself, the CPG, and most importantly, the consumer. In the early 2000s, the packaging consultancy PTIS developed a simple model called the PTIS Product Formula to show all the value packaging affords the product it contains. Over the years, we have continued to update the Product Formula to reflect the growth of the value that packaging provides in so many ways.
Let’s now talk more about the many ways packaging provides value to the overall product. But first, let’s go through the Product Formula’s key elements and briefly describe what they mean:
• Product—Includes the entire product and package system.
• Package—Physical package that contains the product.
• Brand Value/Purpose—Supports the overall product identity and includes the essence of the overall brand value, equity, purpose.
• Experience—Includes the real and perceived physical and emotional elements of the product/package system.
• ESG/Inclusion—Delivers the environmental and social elements that support eliminating waste while educating consumers. We are now seeing this element grow to provide inclusivity so everyone can use the product effectively. There are currently 1.4 billion people that are differently abled and the goal for packaging is/should be to make the product easily accessible to all.
• Services and Solutions—Includes many different elements from codes (QR codes, etc.) to usage and disposal directions and more.
As you can see from the Product Formula, packaging plays a significant role across the many elements of the product’s lifecycle. We have identified more than 60 real and perceived value-adding benefits that packaging contributes to the overall product value. In many cases the product is the package, or the product is the package delivery system.
As one thinks about thinks about any product/package system, there is so much that is taken for granted, including tamper evidence for safety, usage directions, ingredient declarations, children’s games on back panels, allergen information, QR codes to help explain the product story or brand purpose, or How2Recycle (H2R) or package disposal information. There may be refill/reuse information along with H2R to help in the fight to eliminate packaging as waste. And there are codes to help in track-and-trace efforts in case of food safety or recall needs. So you can now see that packaging plays a very positive role in the overall product lifecycle.
New consumer research across the many consumer segments and generations reveals that people have disparate needs, but they all expect the product (and package) to be a simple process to understand and use effectively. And more recently, packaging inclusivity has moved to the forefront by incorporating tactile features to help differently abled people indentify and use them. This has taken too long, with so many people globally falling into that category.
As we look to the future, packaging needs to be promoted more positively as an integrated element of the overall product experience. Meanwhile, packaging will quietly continue to be important across the entire value chain, whether or not it’s recognized as what it is—a positive contributor to the overall brand value/purpose and experience.