In business they say, “it’s the packaging that sells the product the first time, but it’s what’s inside that sells the package the second time.” How many times have you seen a new product fail because the manufacturer has overlooked an aspect that prevented the product from moving off the shelf? It’s a costly mistake, especially when you consider the average food product launch ranges from $12,000 to $15,000. Launching your product to market can be fraught with difficulties.
To help you avoid this mistake we have provided below our “packaging recipe for success”, to help you launch your product cost efficiently and in a timely manner. Before starting this recipe however you will need to answer a few questions:
- What is your product’s market? How big is it? Is it a growth market or is it crammed with similar products.
- Who is going to purchase your product?
- What will make your product different from your competitors?
- What are your competitors doing well, and, just as importantly, what are they doing poorly?
- Is your product shelf stable, or are there special handling requirements that need to take into account?
- How are you going to produce your product? Are you going to manufacture it yourself or are you going to have a private label company manufacture it for you?
- If you are planning to manufacture it yourself, this opens a whole host of questions about machinery, location, processes, food safety, etc. If this is your route, do your homework in advance.
Launching your Product
Now that you have your product, answer the questions to understand the type of packaging you will need:
- How is your recipe or product distinguishable from others in the market?
- What is your market? Is it specialized or very broad? Does the market understand your product (this is especially critical if you are looking at specialized or ethnic foods)?
- How do you need to prepare? Do you have costs? Do you have contacts?
- What is the volume needed to make this product viable (expected and projected)?
- Will you manufacture it? Or will you hire a custom packaging, or private label manufacturer?
- Ideally, where would you like to see your product on the shelves?
Your Packaging Recipe
Step 1: Choosing a Designer
When choosing and working with a designer I suggest you compile a design synopsis based on your research and ideas. When working with a designer give them an idea of what colours, look, feeling, and scope you would like your brand or design to emote. Also, be clear about what you would like them to handle. This is critical if you’re going to keep your costs in line.
You are paying for the designers slant on your project, so make sure you are as clear as possible as to where you would like to go, but allow the designer to pick the path. This will save you and your designer hours of frustration. Two quick notes: one, remember in conceptual design, once you have seen the design, you are an owner. And two, prices are based on an hourly rate so designers like it when a client makes continual changes. Your chequebook on the other hand, won’t.
Be prepared to interview a new designer, and ask for their portfolio and previous work. Look at the designs and the calibre of accounts they have worked on in the past. This will give you an idea of what to expect. If you have a large budget and are interested in multi-media (web, TV, print ads, etc.), then I would suggest a larger firm that have staff who can handle different medias. Smaller firms, and even independents designers, will offer you great service and reasonable fee structure if your needs aren’t as complex.
If you reach a point where the design is just not working, be honest with your designer. If you pay your bill up, they will usually not have a problem with it. And it is entirely in your rights to find another designer.
Step 2: Branding
Your brand is your umbrella, under which the various flavours or product variations reside. Remember to keep your brand easy to remember, but indicative of your concept/philosophy. Simple is good. Complex can get confusing. Above all, you should have some sense of pride when you look at your brand.
As for colours, the best brands have a subliminal meaning. This keeps the impression of your brand with the consumer long after they forget the name.
Step 3: Choosing a Printer
Printers, like everyone, have specializations. Some only print boxes, others only print labels. Typically, you do not ask your business card printer to print your cartons, as they probably will not know the packaging requirements and this could mean disaster. There is a growing group of companies that only specialize in packaging, and are a one-stop-shop. Their benefit is that they are immersed in the industry and their experience can steer you away from expensive mistakes before they happen.
A Few Key Points:
- If you have chosen a good designer, make sure they the talk to the printer to get the specifications the printer needs.
- File formats are critical, if a printer has to redo or work on your file, your cost will go up.
- Remember that volume is your biggest ally to driving packaging costs down. So do your research!
- A rule of thumb is never to load up with more than six months of packaging. Labelling regulations change and even though some forms of packaging are stable for years; pressure sensitive label adhesive has a guaranteed shelf life of only one year and can lose its adhesive properties if stored incorrectly.
Step 4: Launching your Product
So, now you have done your homework. You know your product will sell. Your marketing materials are designed and your package is complete. Your pricing structure is finished and you have all your costs laid. And you have just put in the purchase orders to get everything printed (in small quantities). Now what?
In a Word, Sell!
Your sole focus should be about getting your product out to the public. Consider introducing it at a trade show—this is prime time to launch your product and get it in front of your prospective buyers. But be proactive, if you know that prospective clients will be there, pre-book appointments for the day of the show to get them to your booth. This not only builds interest around your booth, but also focuses you on your actual purpose for attending a show…to sell!
Getting your products out in small- to mid-range stores is a good start. Specialty chains especially work very well to build your brand loyalty and your sales. As you grow, connect with brokerages that cater to the larger chains, as they will be able to get into the larger accounts that you might have challenges with. However, be cautious if they ask for exclusivity of your product.
Finally, remember that even if the product takes off, you still need to keep promoting it! And if your product does take off, congratulations and enjoy the ride!