New Refinements in Packaging Design

By the 1990s, consumer product companies, with their many products branded and merchandised together, recognized the need to make packaging engineers part of the product development team and packaging designers part of the marketing team. The demand for convenience and value dictated many aspects of materials development and marketing. Space efficiency, reusability, and environmental concerns also gained in importance, reflecting consumers' changing values. Soda can design shifted from disposable pull-tab openings to easy-open pull tabs that remained affixed to the top of the can after opening in order to address consumers' environmental concerns, and glass was replaced by plastic to reduce breakage. These innovations, along with laminates and specialty coatings for paperboard, all provided new design opportunities for packaging designers.

By 1998, the average American supermarket had approximately thirty thousand SKUs, or stock-keeping units (a specific product's numeric identifier represented in a scanable bar code that allows inventory to be easily tracked), approximately 50 percent more than five years earlier.3 Mergers between consumer product companies and innovations in technology yielded even shorter product life spans. In response, companies redesigned their packages to ensure that a product's message grabbed consumers' attention and made a sale more quickly than ever before (figs. 1.50 through 1.53). Opportunities for packaging designers ...

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