Views from the Hills by R. E. Stevens, GENESIS II (The Second Beginning) E-Mail

Searching for New Opportunities - Packaging

In my mind there are three types of market opportunities:  tweaking, evolutionary and revolutionary.  Tweaking is where we play around with improving minor features.  An evolutionary change is where we approach existing consumer problems and improve the state of the art.  A revolutionary change is one that results in a paradigm shift in the category.

In the Packaging arena, the tweaking are those little "tie-breakers" that in themselves are not purchase motivators.  They seldom result in a change of brand usage.  However, they are the most frequent changes seen in the market today.

Evolutionary changes are those that are NEED-based.  Actually, I lump needs/wants/desires into this one category.  These changes are a result of problems or dissatisfaction with a brand or category.  These changes frequently result in brand switching

Revolutionary changes are those that come along once in a blue moon.  They are usually the result of technology break-throughs.  They usually encompass product changes that the consumer would never articulate.  They are things they would never dream possible or relate to the brand category.

I believe that it is impractical to specifically search for packaging opportunities.  It would be too short sighted.  Packaging in itself is not strictly a commodity, it is more a TOOL.  People do not usually purchase the package, they purchase what is in the package except in very rare occasions.  We should not look at packaging as an OPPORTUNITY.  Rather it should be viewed as a TOOL to solving needs, which are OPPORTUNITIES.

For example, a NEED might be to have two-liter bottled drinks last longer after opening, that is, not to go flat.  While the object is to prevent the loss of carbonation, a packaging modification might be the solution.  Packaging is not the object, but it offers a solution to the need.

Focusing on Packaging as an Opportunity without a NEED would greatly limit our potential.  If we ask the consumer about potential packaging improvements, we will get packaging responses.  However, if we ask about needs, wants, desires, we open up the potential to uncover problems that may be solved through packaging.

I believe that it is important to keep in mind that without a NEED, any initiative is most likely doomed to failure.

Having said the above, what would I do if searching for packing opportunities?

I would not be putting funds behind the exploration of "Tweaking" initiatives.  I would just let them happen and then evaluate anything that comes up.

Revolutionary changes come about so infrequently that I would not address them directly.  I would put in a system that tracks technology break-throughs and competitive efforts around the world.

Almost all my efforts would be directed to Evolutionary changes through the learning and understanding of the needs/wants/desires/problems of the consumer and the customer as well as the corporate needs that can be addressed through packaging.

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