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Creating Win-Win Scenarios

One question contract packagers have been asking me is, “How can I find out what consumer product goods manufacturers (CPGs) really want from my company, and then deliver it to them in the way that they want?”

Ask 100 CPGs and you may get 100 different responses. Their needs depend on the type of product they make, the type of packaging they need, and their distribution, among other factors.

And here’s the kicker: CPGs’ needs are in constant flux as new retail channels emerge and mature retail channels evolve—and require CPGs to rethink their packaging strategy to reflect current retailer preferences.

But based upon recent conversations with those inside CPGs who make the decision to purchase contract-packaging services, some consistent themes emerge about what they want. These themes were reinforced at the roundtable discussion I moderated at Packaging Services Expo in May, in which panelists described what’s top-of-mind as they qualify and select contract packagers.

1. Quality is an expectation.

2. Have a point when calling a product manufacturer, and be able to discuss what you offer. Make it succinct; the decision makers are time-pressed, and they will expect you to share in the risk.

3. While niche opportunities abound at smaller companies, major CPGs generally prefer complete turnkey service.

4. When budget-squeezed CPGs downsize, it often means opportunity for contract packaging. Take the initiative to prepare an understandable service proposal developed around reasonable estimates and assumptions. Create win-win scenarios that make a CPG more competitive.

5. Document quality controls in your facility and share them with potential customers.

This issue of Contract Packaging magazine is packed with ideas for developing winning approaches—right from the mouths of those at CPGs who assess and purchase contract-packaging services. I urge you to read John Hayward’s article on how Hewlett-Packard qualifies contract packagers. For readers who couldn’t attend Packaging Services Expo, I’ve reprised some of the best questions that the audience asked the panel of CPG service buyers.

And, as Kim Lymn describes in our cover article, an effective approach for winning a CPG’s business has contract packagers playing the role of “connector” in bringing together all the players as an integrated value chain.

These articles may also provide CPGs who are thinking about outsourcing their packaging development with ideas for qualifying contract packagers and measuring performance. Estèe Lauder Companies uses contract packaging extensively. Michael O’Leary, executive vice president, quality assurance, advises: “Don’t award the business until the contract packager tells you if they are going to do what it takes in writing. This is your leverage point.” [CP]

I’d be interested in hearing and sharing your thoughts on creating win-win scenarios. Give me a call at 630/897-7158 or e-mail me at

[email protected].

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