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A Packaging Makeover: Using Advanced Sourcing for Innovation

By: Jennifer Sikora
Posted: November 13, 2012, from the January 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.

Beauty companies know packaging can make all the difference in how well their products move off the shelves. From smart packaging to shelf-ready packaging, to packaging that leverages multisensorial and augmented reality, new primary packaging advancements abound nowadays, and because so much of purchasing decisions are based on the product packaging and presentation, packaging is critical to a good beauty product.

But new materials and design don’t only impact the consumer’s senses, however. They also can mean big changes to the production of products, and beauty brand owners can’t lose sight of important product aspects like the shelf life and safety that packaging addresses.

Primary packaging is only part of the picture. Brand managers may also get involved with decisions related to secondary packaging as well, which includes the cartons, wraps, dividers, films and other materials used to contain and ship the individual product units. Rising concerns for sustainability and lower waste among customers and stakeholders mean that both primary and secondary packaging must meet taller orders in terms of balancing multiple business and brand requirements and cost trade-offs.

How can so many complex factors be evaluated for the best result?

One way marketing and brand managers and owners can ensure an improved approach to the sourcing of their packaging solutions is through greater collaboration with procurement teams, many of which have access to new advances in sourcing technology that can take into account the preferences of brand managers and category owners, the purchasing team and suppliers—all helping lead to better packaging innovation.

Because of new web-based sourcing platforms and growing supplier acceptance of conducting business through software, advanced sourcing is no longer the domain of Fortune 500 companies only. It is now being adopted among the Global 2000 and sometimes even smaller companies.

So how can marketing and brand managers and owners collaborate with purchasing to improve margins and drive product innovation? Where once purchasing departments weren’t involved in such strategic spends as packaging, the push for cost-saving improvements, combined with the strength of today’s sourcing technology, is leading to an increasing collaboration between purchasing and brand teams. Brand managers no longer need to be in the dark about what the purchasing team is negotiating with the suppliers, but now can be part of the process using these types of sourcing solutions.