It's just packaging?

Consider the word just.

Pw 5817 Tim Brown Professional Photo Brown Suite

As an adverb it means simply, nothing more.

“It’s just a box!” “It’s just a packaging change!” “It’s just a graphics change!” “It’s just a thinner material!” “It’s just the machine!”

How many times have you heard phrases like those in your packaging career? Perhaps you have even made similar statements.

Early in my packaging career I had a manager and mentor who had a keen sense of hearing the word just and would call the user out on it, including me. At first this seemed trivial, but then I came to realize that the word just reflected one’s perception that the package or task at hand was simple, nothing more.

Have you ever delivered a significant corrugated and transportation cost savings to your organization just to discover that the new case no longer fits on 80% of your customer’s store shelves? How about a “simple” graphics change on an existing bag just to find it shut down your packaging lines due to film de-lamination in the heat-seal areas of the package? Or how about, due to pressures to launch a product early, you rely on lab testing and forgo a full distribution test just to discover a high rate of damage when the product arrives at the customer?

Far too often within organizations the value of packaging and the steps necessary to properly execute a change is underestimated, overlooked, or skipped—even by packaging professionals. There is failure to thoroughly understand the implications of change across the entire value chain (consumer, retail, manufacturing, distribution, suppliers, etc.). Many times this failure is predicated on lack of time, resources, knowledge, or all of the above. In the end, it is usually the smallest of details that bite you. This can have far-reaching consequences from a failed new product-launch, to shutting down manufacturing lines, to losing the confidence and trust of consumers.

As packaging professionals, often we are expected only to provide technical expertise and deliver packaging initiatives for the business. Regularly we feel that we are either brought in too late on a project or believe we have been handed expectations on a project that we did not help create and thus are destined to miss. We feel our voices are not heard. These are the situations where we have an opportunity to effect change. To do so, we as packaging professionals need to form and maintain solid working relationships across the organization and the value chain. We need to be business savvy and have influencing skills. We need to be solid project managers and deliver on our commitments. We must be proactive. We must be passionate.

Organizations that recognize the value of packaging often understand and deliver against what we call the PTIS™ Product Equation. Where The Product = Product + Package + Brand Equity + Experience + Sustainable Elements + Services. People from all levels within these organizations, from senior leaders to packaging line operators, embrace the importance of packaging. This ensures that packaging does indeed get a seat at the decision-making table within the company. I would bet that you seldom hear the word just used in these organizations when packaging is discussed.

Regardless of whether you are a packaging engineer, a packaging scientist, a packaging technician, a packaging material supplier, or a packaging equipment supplier, we are all packaging professionals. As such, we are stewards for promoting and advancing the value of packaging. It is our responsibility to stay relevant, bring value, and educate others on the importance and value that packaging brings to a product and the usage experience. So the next time you hear someone use the word just in a conversation regarding packaging, be sure to help clarify for that person the importance and value packaging brings. It’s that simple, nothing more.

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In this eBook, you’ll learn how to guard against the traps that CPGs sometimes inadvertently set for themselves when implementing robotics that lead to automation “brittleness.”
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