How to Implement a New Global Packaging Architecture

Five keys to avoiding misadventures in packaging

We’ve been asked many times to create and implement a new global packaging architecture for companies whose product packaging has become regionalized and inconsistent. Seems simple enough. Come up with a system that everyone can use, no matter the product or the country. It is relatively simple, but it’s not easy.
In order for a worldwide organization to institute any type of global marketing strategy, a global mindset is a must. Marc de Swaan Arons of explains this in his article Five Key Drivers Of Global Marketing Effectiveness.
Here are Marc’s key points and how they directly relate to new packaging development:
1. Connect: All marketers must share a common understanding of the market reality and destination at local and global levels.
The more everyone knows about the regional markets the more cohesive the final packaging solution will be. This means finding out as much as possible about the regional environments, competition, sales challenges and culture.
Interview all of the stakeholders.  Among many questions we ask about the current packaging, these three seem to be most relevant:

  • What works and what doesn’t about your current packaging?
  • What challenges do you face at retail?
  • What do you personally love or hate (and we mean hate) about your 
current packaging and the competitors’ packaging?

2. Inspire: Global brand leaders must ignite and nurture passion internally, empowering the brand’s growth.
It’s core to our beliefs at L&A, and often a mandate from our clients, that we be their global brand champion. We support our clients as they sell globalization to their internal regional marketing teams as well as to their customers. We are often asked to act as a bridge between business units and regional stake-holders.
3. Focus: Vigilant focus on and commitment to an agreed-upon set of priorities is crucial.
This is where our Creative Brief is essential. It outlines the successes and challenges of the brand and the global objectives by which all of our creative solutions can be evaluated. As well as creative solutions, we provide the strategy behind them. All through our design process we step back, scrutinize the work and compare it to the objectives and priorities of the brief.
And, back to those interview questions from #1. As we present our solutions, we make sure to address the regional as well as corporate challenges and concerns that emerged from those three important questions. The teams must know they were part of the creative solution.
4. Organize: One common pitfall is not clarifying roles and responsibilities early on.
This applies primarily to the client’s internal packaging team, but it also applies to the depth of our involvement in the process. There is usually some tension between decision-makers and stake-holders*, which I’m sure you can sense as you read this. We listen to both groups, because both are key to the success of global packaging. If one or the other feels disenfranchised, the whole exercise will likely fail.
*As these terms can vary from company to company:
Decision-Makers are individuals who have the final say on which creative solution will be chosen and how the packaging rollout will be implemented.
The Stake-Holder is the individual who is responsible for the outcome of the decisions made above. Typically in middle management they are the ones who ensure that the new global packaging system is a success.
5. Build: Growth and efficiencies accelerate when a company’s marketers speak one marketing language and build on each other’s successes and mistakes.
Along with the decision-makers and stake-holders, it’s essential that the package design team be part of an ongoing conversation about the effectiveness of the newly implemented global packaging.
A new packaging system launched wordwide is a BIG deal and the implications are literally far-reaching. Everyone needs to know how it’s going. Good corporate communication regarding the response both from consumers and the trade will help keep everyone playing for the team. Should there be small issues with the packaging that need to be addressed, the team will be more inclined to fix them with solid solutions rather than start over. This will also help reduce the risk of developing a splinter group working to change the agreed upon solutions.
The success of our clients is our success. We want to walk into shops in Beijing, Columbus, Ohio, and Basel, Switzerland, see our work on the shelf, and know that it is successfully communicating the brand and selling lots of product.
We want every step along the way to be inclusive, creative and strategic. Hold that thought. It’s as simple as that.

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