Packaging: I looked the term it up in a couple of online dictionaries. In my opinion, none of the definitions truly represent what packaging is today nor did they address where we would be without it.
With all the flurry of activity around the plastic bag and water bottle bans at airports, I thought it was time to reiterate the positive role packaging plays in modern society. The role of the package has changed over the years from functioning as a simple container to becoming an integral part of our society. Yet most people aren't aware of the package's important aspects or don't understand how it works. They just know that it exists especially when they perceive it as a problem.
I just participated in a discussion thread that came about from an article entitled "Common Ways to Waste Your Money." Surprise, surprise. Packaging was on the list (bottled water too) of wasted money ventures. I'm not sure who came up with the list but it contained 19 different items ranked in no particular order. I couldn't resist reading what people were saying about the "lowly" package.
The vast majority of the discussion thread on packaging revolved around all the bad things that packaging supposedly adds to the waste stream, over packaged and excess packaging materials, difficulty in opening and so on. One thing was clear; these people haven't a clue about what packaging really does for us. The responses were almost comical as if the very products we use appeared magically at the store ready to be purchased, free of all encumbrances (the packaging) and pristine and pure in every regard.
These people need to get real! One person was ranting and raving about bacon and why it is packaged the way it is. I'm not sure how she expects to have bacon available for purchase without the packaging. Perhaps she lives on a farm where they butcher hogs and she can line up at the slaughter house each morning. But what about the other 95% of us that don't? We shop at the market and expect it to supply what we want, when we need it.
I'm not going to expound in depth on all the "real" things packaging does, but think of the primary responsibilities of the package. On the "short" list: It protects, conveys or transports the product so that it arrives undamaged or unbroken. It educates or tells us what is inside and what to do with it. It sells or persuades us to buy it. It makes it easy for us to use or consume it. Remember, that's just the short list.
Now let's look at the issues that arise without the role the package has to play: Broken or damaged contents (smashed potato chips and broken crockery). How many servings are there? What temperature do I cook it? Where and how do I plug it in? How do I put it together? Will it color my gray, help me lose weight quickly, or attract the opposite sex (just kidding)? Can it be cooked in the microwave? What's for dinner, Ipod anyone?
Now who's real? Sorry to say but there are some real idiots out there. Sure packaging contributes to the waste stream, and yes some things are overpackaged or hard to open but think through your day from the time you get up to your last bedtime snack. How many of those things could you use, do or accomplish without packaging?
So think before you rant. Understand before you condemn product packaging as the bane of your existence. You can't have a product without a package. Most importantly, packaging is our friend.
For more ways to utilize packaging branding, innovation and marketing concepts to "connect" with your consumer contact JoAnn Hines the Packaging Diva at JoAnn@PackagingDiva.com. You can also subscribe to he complimentary newsletter "Packaging News You Can Use" at the same email address.