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'Greening' brings concentrated thoughts

Seven key questions to ask if you are considering packaging source reduction via concentrated reformulations.

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ALL small & mightly concentrated detergent has been called by Wal-Mart's Matt Kistler the "poster child" of the retailer's sustainability scorecard (see Wal-Mart scorecard going global: May 2007 update,

Amway has had a line of concentrated laundry products in smaller packages for decades, by the way.

The Green/Sustainability Movement will spawn more concentrated products. Smaller packages provide savings in materials, transportation, and stocking labor, among others; however, don’t concentrate with eyes closed.

Concentrated retail beverages require reconstitution, an inconvenience that has mainly limited the category to frozen product in spiral-wound cans with metal ends…think orange juice. Given this era of Green Marketing, companies should revisit consumer attitudes. Even if something still is regarded an inconvenience, there might be a change in attitude regarding the willingness to endure it for a sustainable environment.

For example, with aseptic vs. frozen, reconstitution is easier with the former, which, in addition, is less energy-intensive.
Offsetting this benefit, the frozen product yields an instantly cold beverage. That's why these are exciting, challenging times; they demand trade-offs and systems analysis.

Companies marketing green must decide whether to simply ride the wave or shape it.
Here are some key questions to ask before you proceed:

1. Should the nonconcentrated version be discontinued, and if not, how is that decision justified?
2. Would certain concentrated ingredients invite environmental criticisms?
3. How much concentration (2X, 3X, 4X, etc.) is ideal and is it supported by consumer research?
4. Can the reformulation itself be made more green in addition to concentrated?
5. Is dispensing designed for maximum economy?
6. How should the equivalency between the smaller and larger sizes be communicated?
7. Must graphics be redesigned other than merely shrunk, to avoid a smaller package that’s “too busy?”

Such considerations and more should be addressed on the path-to-market.

Sterling Anthony, consultant, maintains offices in Detroit, MI. He can be reached via phone at 313/531-1875 or e-mail at [email protected]. His web site is

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