Packaging innovation: where and why?

Michele Bondani, founder and owner of Packaging in Italy

We celebrate a year of collaboration with Michele Bondani, owner of Packaging in Italy, and we do it facing the topic of innovation in packaging, analyzing why it is necessary to follow a path of this type and above all trying to tell the key points where it is necessary to intervene…

Innovation in today’s market is almost a duty for companies. Without a path of innovation, it seems trivial to say, there is the risk of ending up in a dead end with no way out. This is true for products, but also and above all for their packaging.
“Companies that in the past have created innovative products, today must necessarily speed up their processes, because the times have been extremely reduced”, says Michele Bondani.

In this process of accelerating processes, we cannot fail to underline the fundamental role played by internet. Jack Trout, the father of the theories relating to positioning, in order to spread his knowledge had to write several books, which were then printed, distributed and sold in physical bookstores, with an extremely extended timing compared to a person interested nowadays in deepening the same topic: to get information you just need to open internet, search for keywords such as positioning, or take a virtual tour on social networks to find contributions of all kinds and in real time.

Communicate product leadership
Today with marketing campaigns, with previews, with communication capable of creating expectations for consumers, and of attracting the attention of competitors, when a product is on the shelf, it enjoys much less of the novelty effect than in the past and if the company that launched it has failed to convey a message of uniqueness about the product to its customers, the risk is to be replicated, perhaps by multinationals with an important communication budget, capable instead of conquering the leadership for that product, which in the meantime has been copied, gaining an important competitive advantage.

“There is a big difference between the first who thinks it and the first who makes it. Think for example of the first MP3 player, many are convinced that it was created by Steve Jobs, who actually copied it by improving it and calling it I-Pod. Considered to be one of Apple’s greatest hits, this item has revolutionized the music market. He was a great visionary and had the ability to catch a glimpse of trends and select elements of public interest, anticipating the competition. It attacked the market with innovative products, but also based much of its success on the communicative aspect and on the timeliness in doing so. Of course, he did not lack the resources to become the protagonist of the scene”, says Bondani, underlining the importance of developing innovation and having the ability to be perceived as innovative, and before others.

Product innovation and packaging innovation
Developing innovation is as important as the communication aspect. An example of success is Fileni case: the company innovated the product, proposing itself as the organic specialist par excellence in the white meat market, also developing a packaging that further emphasizes this new positioning. This is how the naturally sustainable and recyclable Paperseal® (cardboard trays) is born, compared to traditional trays this new packaging allows a reduction of plastic by about 80% as the ultra-thin inner sheet can be easily removed from the package and disposed separately assuring the recycling, a highly innovative solution in a market dominated by plastic trays, and communicating in this way to the final consumer unequivocally its commitment to sustainability.

How can you create innovation?
“The real reason for pushing the innovation accelerator is to be cause and effect on the market. This is a concept that should guide companies not to suffer from the market, trying instead to create opportunities for themselves. And it is precisely in the moment of crisis that the most interesting projects are born. In Packaging in Italy, in the last year of the pandemic, the job crisis was not felt. We are a multisectoral agency, and this already protects us from the physiological declines of the various sectors; but in the last year the requests of large companies interested in developing innovative projects have literally exploded, they wanted to be aggressive on the market”, says Michele Bondani.
Being in contact with different realities is extremely vital for the work of an agency and allows you to acquire skills and knowledge in a sector, which can then be transferred and replicated on new projects in other sectors.
If an innovative product is launched in a category, the other players follow by copying the packaging, and making a mistake. “Very often it is the packaging that has the role of giving innovation perception of a product within its category, playing an extremely important role. We remember in fact that packaging is always responsible for the first purchase of a product or brand that the consumer does not know”, adds Bondani.

There are numerous examples of companies that through a different perception of packaging have had the ability to stand out on the market, conquering a leadership role precisely through innovative packaging solutions, even in graphic design or in the different use of colors, actually going against the trend with canons usually used within that category. Flours have come to the fore in recent years and have had great success due to the huge demand. This is a market where the vast majority of mills are still linked to communicative canons linked to the past with the use of colors such as blue, green, yellow. “I take as an example Mulino Rossetto, which is not my client, so I speak about it with the utmost freedom and without any conflict of interest, which in the essence of white, has created a new image linked to its brand, with the logo in red that stands out. Hand in hand with a new graphics, cleaner, more elegant, in this way the great quality of the product is better perceived, it has also accompanied the adoption of a new packaging, totally innovative for the world of flour, that is the tetrapak with screw cap, replacing the classic paper or plastic bag. In this case, a package already adopted by the beverage sector (juices and milk) was used, therefore nothing new, but never adopted for flours and therefore completely innovative for this sector which allowed Mulino Rossetto to be perceived as an innovative company. A solution capable of better preserving the product, avoiding dispersion of flour in the pantry and guaranteeing better freshness”, concludes Michele Bondani.