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A Packaging Approach That Conveys Efficiency

Elizabeth Boch

As you evaluate beauty aisles, you may notice that many products are undergoing a packaging revolution. It’s less about intricacy and overly worked design now and more about seamless, clean looks with the least amount of packaging possible.

Has that new look stopped consumers from buying their staple perfume and foundation? Probably not, and that’s because lately it is the price tag that truly catches the eye.

Consumers base purchasing decisions on price now more than ever. Add to that mindset the increasing role of corporate responsibility and going green in consumer behavior, and these two trends combine to form the much larger theme of efficiency. Consumers want inexpensive, quality goods that are manufactured responsibly. They know sustainable goods shouldn’t cost more than their synthetic counterparts, and they expect brands to adopt that same principle and apply it to the entire product life cycle.

How do you apply this trend to your product and its packaging though? Understand it’s less about beauty and more about functionality. Approach packaging from a practical standpoint and less as a marketing tool. See your packaging choices as opportunities to cut costs, which naturally result in lower pricing. Implementing these efficiency-minded material and design changes result in the added benefit of becoming a sustainability proponent.

Focus on Function

When most marketing professionals think about packaging, it is viewed through the lens of communication. The outer pack is the first thing a consumer will see, and until recently, the message being communicated was one of beauty. While that is still important, consumers are savvier and more motivated to buy based on cost these days, rather than color and shape. So begin by addressing one of the largest contributing factors to your shelf price: transportation costs. With some estimates as high as 20% and fuel costs as unpredictable as ever, finding ways to reduce that cost will come in handy when deciding whether to lower your products’ price points for consumers.

The density and weight of your inner and outer packs are one place to concentrate. Consider eliminating the use of cardboard boxes and opt for reusable containers to save on waste disposal costs. This move could also please retail partners, who are increasingly pushing sustainable packaging mantras to their suppliers. Consider the latest move by Whole Foods Market to issue sustainable packaging guidelines to its more than 2,100 personal care product manufacturers. In addition to switching to recycled bottles for a number of their own body care products, brand owners had one year to reduce their use of plastic packaging, promote switching to glass and increase their use of recycled materials. New brands coming onto the shelves must also meet these guidelines before their goods can be sold in any of Whole Foods’ 300 locations in the U.S., Britain and Canada.

If your research concludes it would cost too much to make such dramatic materials changes to your packaging, take a look at smaller but equally effective options such as improving pack-out. Consult with expert logistics providers who specialize in your product on ways to increase case and pallet density. These companies are skilled at identifying ways to reduce the amount of air you ship with your orders and can cut your transportation costs. This will also help increase your score on retailers’ sustainability and packaging scorecards, which will strengthen those relationships and keep your product on the shelves and out in front of consumers.

The Three P’s: Packaging, Provider and Perfection

Once you’ve managed to at least make some minor adjustments on material use, there is still room for improvement. Cosmetics, body lotions and other similar products definitely come with special logistics needs, not the least of which is ensuring the packaging, designed to entice the consumer just as much as the eye shadow color or the scent of the body wash within, is secure and free of scratches, cracks and chips when those cases reach the retailer. That requires balancing aesthetics with sound logistics. Your operations department knows cutting logistics costs is impossible if lighter or fewer packaging materials increase the likelihood of damage or contamination. The key to success is finding an efficient solution using both sturdy and attractive materials, something offering a comprehensive solution.

A reputable provider will understand the complexities of your products, placing them in the appropriate location in the warehouse, likely an area designated for pick-and-pack orders if you ship cosmetics. They will also know not to place your perfumes or other odorous goods near other products that are porous, helping to prevent cross-contamination.

Also consider the additional benefits of working with a logistics provider: volume transportation, and warehousing pricing and collaborative programs. Working with hundreds of carriers and securing pricing for sometimes thousands of customers allows providers to offer substantially discounted rates, in addition to direct contact to the warehousing floor and a singular point of contact for all orders and claims.

Working with a provider also puts you at the forefront of cutting-edge logistics trends, including retailer consolidation and collaborative programs. Instead of sending pallets less-than truckload, these providers combine your shipments with those of other brand owners headed to the same destination, reducing your transportation costs and potential for damages.

Companies such as Hanson Logistics, Millard and CaseStack collaborate with each link on the supply chain to ensure efficiency. These technology-driven programs allow retailers to speak directly with the logistics provider. By combining less-than-truckload orders into full truckload shipments, you simultaneously reduce cost and cut carbon emissions. Dan Sanker, CEO of CaseStack, explains, “Lowering logistics costs doesn’t require lowering service levels or distribution. With a retailer consolidation program, [brand owners] reduce their costs 20–40%. Their transit times are cut in half, on-time deliveries go up at least 20% and the amount of greenhouse gas emitted is much lower, giving them a higher sustainability rating.”

Consider the story of Advanced Beauty Systems, a Dallas-based manufacturer of body and beauty care products who, in 2005, needed to reduce the number of damaged products being sent to its retail partners, as well as handle rapidly increasing demand. Since joining a consolidation program, it has saved thousands of dollars in damages and cut carbon emissions by more than two-thirds.

Efficiency for Everyone

Consumer insights are changing, and they want efficiently produced, packaged and shipped goods that please the wallet just as much as they please the eye. They are no longer intrigued enough by fancy and intricate packaging alone to pay exorbitant costs. By retooling your packaging with logistics in mind and finding a provider who understands both the connection and your product, you stand to reduce your costs and dramatically increase your profits.

Elizabeth Boch is the marketing manager at CaseStack—where she handles the public relations, advertising, marketing and business intelligence strategies for the growing provider of sustainable logistics solutions. A substantial background in journalism and advertising brought her to CaseStack, where she has worked since 2008.

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