Shaping a pitch to senior management

The challenge for marketers in these tough economic times is to find money in the budget for creating custom package shapes.

Equally difficult is justifying to senior management the idea of an inventive structural form, which often requires significant investments in new tooling, production processes, and additional materials.

Before approaching senior decision-makers, first determine which shapes could impact consumers when they purchase and use your product. As part of this step, Russ Napolitano, vice president business development at Wallace Church Associates (, says you should answer two questions: Which shape(s) already dominate my product category? Are there opportunities for new shapes that have meaning for my brand’s consumers?

Next, determine how the design can intuitively express a desirable price/value relationship to consumers, and also reduce production costs. Quantify those costs for senior managers, who might be more receptive to a structural-design investment if you can demonstrate cost savings.

Senior management still not biting? Your competitors are feeling the same economic pinch, and often they are sitting on shelf alongside your brand in the same standard packaging forms as a lot of national brands. “Me too” brands and private-label brands also achieve close on-pack color matches with their national counterparts. These developments are confusing consumers at the point of decision, and unsure consumers tend to default to shopping for the lowest price.

In addition, private-label brands are beginning to give national brands a run for their money in more product categories. Overall, private-label sales rose 10% for during the 12 months ending in September 2008, according to an October 2008 report from The Nielsen Co. (

“Recent months show growth in private-label units sold, indicating that shoppers are beginning to switch in favor of the savings offered by store brands,” Tom Pirovano, Nielsen’s director of industry insights, said in the report.

National brands could gain an edge by introducing more sophisticated structural designs that forge deeper, more meaningful relationships with their consumers

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