Package Deal

Written by Anushree Bhattacharyya | Updated: Jan 15 2013, 06:22am hrs
A new coffee table book traces the evolution of packaging since 3000 B.C., apart from picking up top 50 best packaged products.

Packaging is an essential element of marketing. It is not merely a functional factor meant to keep a product unspoilt and to safeguard it against any kind of damage but also an extremely important tool to establish a brands identity. It is, indeed, an important factor in inspiring a consumer to pick one brand against the other.

Packaging plays an even more crucial role in the fast moving consumer goods segment because consumable products such as soaps, detergents, biscuits, soups, milk, tea, coffee, other beverages such as wine and beer not only need to be packaged well to ensure that the quality of contents inside dont get spoiled because of the vagaries of weather or during their journey from factory to a consumer household. In todays day and time when quality, technology and pricing have almost become neutral factors across brands, packaging has become a crucial differentiator between products. Companies are investing heavily into packaging, so much so that in some cases the cost of packaging is more than the product itself.

In an interesting book titled Reflections: A collection of 50 best packaging designs, Manjushree Technopack, an integrated packaging solutions provider, has traced the history of packaging since 3000 B.C. The evolution of packaging can be traced back to the time when conservation of food became a necessity, reflects the book. In ancient times, it were shells, gourds, animal hides and hollowed out dried skins of fruits and vegetables that were used by communities to store their food items. This soon gave way to baskets made of leaves and reeds. Then emerged earthenware pots, wooden boxes and ceramic containers, the book notes.

With industrial evolution, we saw the coming in of paper, glass, metal and plastic as materials used for packaging items. The contemporary world continues to use these materials in various forms and shapes with required modifications.

Interspersed with eye-catching pictures, the book lists the way the usage of glass, paper, metal and plastic has evolved since 1 B.C. In an effort to celebrate the evolution of the process and to shed light on the science and art of packaging in contemporary times, Manjushree Technopack roped in Michael Foley, managing director, Foley Designs; P Dasgupta, brand and packaging consultant and Devendra Shah, chairman and managing director, Parag Milk Foods who compiled the list of 50 top packaged goods. These products have been profiled in details in the book. This book chronicles the rationale behind the creation of the packaging in each example, thus, giving the reader an insight in how the packaging of the product influenced its market acceptability, says Vimal Kedia, managing director of the company.

From those listed in the book, our vote goes to Bru Exotica, which is a clear case of packaging drawing inspiration from the product itself. With the coffee being introduced in three different variantsKilimanjaro, Brazil and Colombia, the designers have used maps and other graphic elements such as coffee colour and bean stains to depict the culture of each place. The label completely envelopes the jar, giving the consumer a chance to take a full look at the branding. The jar, which has been designed in rectangular shape is supported in its look with a quarter-turn cap that opens on rotation.

Another product which caught our fancy is Best Basmati Rice. People in India tend to inspect the rice they buy by picking a handful from an open bag. This is exactly where packaging plays a vital role, as a biaxially-oriented polypropylene (BOPP) and polyethene have been used to create a window in front of the packaging so that consumer can pick up a handful of rice without having to ask the shopkeeper. As rice is a commodity product, in this case, the packaging rides high on functionality apart from being simple and clutter free.

The book demonstrates how packaging in the cream filled or sandwich biscuits category went through an overhaul with the introduction of Oreo by Cadbury. As children and parents are the target consumers, designers relied on vivid colours and fonts to create an attractive laminate design. As for the material, the metallic coating and the laminate bonded so well that it eliminated the need of a plastic tray inside the pack, leading to cost-effectiveness. While for international markets seven colours are used for packaging, for India only five colours were used. With insights into the reasons, utility and results achieved through various packaging initiatives, the book, indeed, turns out to be a nice package.