Innovation Survey: Great graphics and structure critical, but not always Enough

Innovation involves not only compelling structural and graphic design, but also proper materials and production selection.

NEW VENUES. New quick-chilling and shatterproof 'bottle cans' of FLASQ wine provide a new avenue for wine sales for JT Wines.
NEW VENUES. New quick-chilling and shatterproof "bottle cans" of FLASQ wine provide a new avenue for wine sales for JT Wines.
As has been identified in the past several years, there is a strong correlation between how packaging structure and graphic innovation can lead to perceived product concept innovation. Conversely, materials and production are capable of dragging down the perception of a product, even with respectable graphic and structural attributes, as this second quarter survey shows.

The new Shelf Impact!/Dragon Rouge ( survey of innovative packaging awarded products that looked, felt, and communicated the part, including a paper bottle that is worth much more than its weight, a battery pack that comfortably seats six, and a resealable bottle of wine…that’s in a can. The results also remind us of the perceived value of sustainability and more specifically, the resealable package, a quality shared by our three top-rated packaging innovations. To view an image and brief description of each of the 15 packages reviewed in the second quarter, go to

Structure + graphics = perceived innovation

With a composite score ranging from 3.76 to 3.85 on a five-point scale, the three packaging innovations that led our second quarterly report are Seventh Generation’s “paper bottle” for liquid laundry detergent, JT Wines’ FLASQ wine in a bottle can, and Contour Energy Systems’ green battery pack. All three scored at the top in both structure and graphics.

Seventh Generation has always been a champion for progressive, sustainable household products but they have taken it to the next level with the introduction of the “paper bottle” laundry detergent package. To launch its 4X concentrated formula, the company is marketing detergent in a low-density polyethylene bag enclosed in bottles made of a board-stock shell. Using paper for much of the container results in a 66% reduction in plastic use per bottle, compared with most other 100-oz laundry detergent bottles. Inside the bag is a resealable LPDE spout, and the cap is polypropylene. The package is designed for easy disassembly for recycling. All of these structural attributes are aided by a graphic design that communicates the capabilities and value of the product without overstating them. The structure might sound complicated, but this product makes sustainability feel simple.

We continue to see imaginative structural innovation with FLASQ Wines in aluminum bottle cans. JT Wines, St. Helena, CA, believes it is the first company in the U.S. to launch a wine brand in such an aluminum bottle. The 375-mL aluminum bottles are resealable and are designed to meet the convenience needs of wine enthusiasts who lead active lifestyles. These quick-chilling and shatterproof  “bottle cans” of wine provide a new avenue for wine sales. FLASQ extends wine’s consumption to a variety of new possibilities, including ball games and concerts where glass is prohibited. The name FLASQ draws a charming association with the intended use of the product, and while almost everything about the pack is futuristic, an outline of a classic wine bottle curving around the logo connects the old with the new.

Just when you thought you had seen every packaging structure for batteries, Contour Energy Systems managed to pack six batteries into a pack that is green in its color as well as its environmental impact. This new blister pack, created for batteries for home theater 3D-TV glasses, uses an eye-catching “stadium seating” design, and allows for 100% resealability and recyclability. In contrast to the linear presentation of most battery packs, the six lithium coin-cell batteries are arranged to provide the dual benefit of adequate room on the graphics card, effectively marketing the brand and its benefits.

Negative materials, production impact perception

Our three lowest scores were attributed to packages that, regardless of average or above-average scores in structure and graphics, were dragged down by a negative perception of their materials

and production.  

Kandoo Corner Buddy containers from Nehemiah Manufacturing Co. include a range of body wash, shampoo, hand soap, and hand sanitizer packages for kids that support the brand idea of “enabling play.” Identifying a need for personal care packages that are easy to access in the corners of vehicles, bathtubs, etc., Nehemiah fashioned the Corner Buddy packages with designs that fit snugly into these awkward spaces. Sculpting the containers with lifelike Kandoo frog-character features, the company created a distinctive appearance for their brand, which was rewarded by our survey respondents. Unfortunately, Kandoo’s materials and production received far less favorable reviews.

After observing how consumers open computer mouse cartons though in-home research, Microsoft produced a new pack with custom components. The new Arc Touch Mouse pack features a fifth-panel carton that spotlights the mouse and improves the package-opening experience. Also worth noting is the 30% post-consumer recycled water bottle flakes used in the plastic packaging components. The new packaging utilizes an overall reduction in materials; however, respondents found materials to be the least compelling attribute of the pack.

The unfortunate distinction of our lowest overall rating was awarded to Dr. Gandel’s Elements of Nature cosmetics line in high-barrier tubes. Dr. Gandel’s product line utilizes the benefits of wheat germ and Vitamin E and contains Epigran, a multipurpose active-substance concentrate composed of wheat germ and plant enzymes that optimizes skin care. The packaging supports the products’ high-end origins with graphic design and color use that (according to our survey) suitably communicates an image of purity, reliability, and all-natural. Unfortunately the high-barrier tubes were not received well in regards to their material production value.

When seeking new answers to innovation, let basic rules be your guide:

1. Incorporate simple benefits such as resealability and materials reduction.

2. Give an equal amount of attention to materials and production as you do to graphics and structure.

3. Push for structural innovation that will also provide new avenues of growth to market and merchandise your brands. {SI!}

The author, Eric Zeitoun, is president of Dragon Rouge USA, an international brand and design consultancy. Contact him at [email protected] or 212/367-8800.

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