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12 amazing articles for packaging pundits in 2015

12 amazing articles for packaging pundits in 2015
Compelling packaging graphics helped celebrate this year's back-to-school season.

Journalists are supposed to remain objective. But here’s a little secret…we do have our favorite articles. They could be those stories we know resonated with our readers (we love making you happy!), or were fun to do or amazed us because of the significance of a new development or technology.

To come up with my “faves” list, I sorted all our articles by page views to see if what you liked would influence me—it’s human nature to find commonalities. In some cases it did. But this “2015 hot articles” list also held a few surprises.

Three articles from earlier years appeared in the top 35: “Marijuana packaging: Beyond the baggie” from April 2014 scored well at #11; the June 2012 timeline “History of BPA” hit #34, followed immediately with the October 2013 article “The undeniable influence of kids” at #35. This proves the enduring value of well-crafted content about topics that interest or concern you.

Before I get into my list of 2015 picks, here’s another end-of-year list. It’s the list of all our end-of-year lists, in case you’ve missed them, which gives you a great total overview of packaging’s trek this past year:

Top 4 personal care packaging concepts of 2015

The most fantastic food packages of 2015

Top 5 packaging design insights of 2015

Designers and engineers find value in smart packaging

Sustainability remains a top concern in 2015

Top 9 packaging automation developments of 2015

A 5-pack of the year’s best beer packaging

Trends in ecommerce packaging center on design

Top flexible packaging news of 2015

Now, I present a dozen of my favorite articles from 2015, the ones I’m most proud of out of about 500 total, starting from the bottom and working up to #1…drum roll, please.

#12. Seasonal packaging designs do a great job of selling, logically and emotionally, by connecting with consumers while they are in a certain mindset. At the end of summer, I took a couple field trips to local stores to see how brands were taking advantage of the back-to-school season. These six packages stood out (see photo above) as most compelling to buy, based on their graphics.

Next: Leading ladies

#11. Seeing so many strong women leaders profiled in the general media got me thinking…Female packaging executives deserve recognition for a job well done, too. Throughout 2015, we profiled Pepsico’s Denise Lefebvre, Campbell Soup Co.’s Mary Gregg (pictured above), Amy Zettlemoyer-Lazar from Walmart Scorecard fame and Nina Goodrich with GreenBlue and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, along with a slideshow of another four Leading Ladies, based on nominations from our readers.

Next: Recycling boost

#10. Hmm…When Eco-Insights blogger Bob Lilienfeld saw something unusual with recycle symbols on labels, he did some of his own research and then asked if you noticed a sustainable packaging difference when he presented similar products/packages side by side. What did he see?

National brands often have recycling information on their labels; store brands not so much.

So Lilienfeld suggests: “Given that store brands continue to grow, and today account for about 23% of supermarket sales (source: PLMA), the potential increase in recycling due to better and more visible labeling would appear to be quite significant.”

Next: A new breed of buyers?

#9. For the third year in a row, I bought almost all my presents for Christmas online. All signs point to further growth of ecommerce. But online shopping isn’t just for consumers. Business-to-business buying is up significantly, too.

So how has the internet changed how you shop for and buy packaging solutions? Researcher George Szanto leapt into action to find out. His original and exclusive study, supported by Packaging Digest, showed many benefits of this digital tool in finding, vetting and connecting with suppliers. You haven’t found nirvana yet, though, especially when it comes to sharing data with others on the buying team as his follow-up study shows. Stay tuned for new insights to come in 2016.

Next: Pretty pots

#8. Anita Redd has boldly gone where no one has gone before. Not into space. Into a new direction for making her own containers. All of the pots for her new skin care products are self-made on a 3D printer. She even has a refill version now. You go, girl!

Next: Fighting over tomorrow’s talent

#7. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing on the conference call about changes at the leading packaging university in the world, Michigan State University’s School of Packaging. Based on questions from others listening in, too, they were just as stunned. Despite a highly competitive and unmet demand for packaging professionals, MSU is going to significantly lower the number of students accepted into its packaging undergraduate program—from almost 900 in 2014 to a mere 125 per year moving forward. Whoa. How good are you at recruiting? You’ll need to get better.

Next: The moral of the story is…

#6. Patent and intellectual property expert William Honaker entertains and educates with a tale of woe over a resealable package. Told in the literary style of a fable, the story ends with a moral: How to prevent something like that from happening to you.

Next: How to excite an engineer

#5. I admit it. I’m a John R. Henry fan. Our KC Boxbottom blogger, Henry also shares automation advances that thrill him with other packaging engineers. In this case, he saw a startling video of a new style of filling machine—one that uses robotics—and immediately enumerated four benefits of the new design clearly and succinctly.

Next: Irate fans incite change

#4. Say it ain’t so! When Hungry Jack syrup brand owner J.M. Smucker Co. replaced its squat bottle, uniquely designed for microwave heating, with one that looks and acts like all the other syrup bottles out there, hot-syrup loyalists revolted. Complaints were loud, emphatic and abundant.

What’s a brand owner to do? Bring back the consumers’ favorite package, of course.

Next: Starring lovable cinema characters

#3. Who doesn’t love Minions? Their 2015 movie had the second-best animated opening ever, with sales of $115.7 million in the first weekend. Putting these sassy yellow creatures on packages helped rake in sales for brand owners, too. But Minions weren’t the only cinema characters companies engaged to capture consumers’ attention this year. Our slideshow of “7 packaging designs that make the most of summer movie mania” also stars T-rex from “Jurrassic World” and winning heroes from “Avengers: Age of Ultron”….plus a highly anticipated end-of-year blockbuster.

Next: The science of packaging design

#2. Packaging design often melds art and science. But you were keenly interested to hear what Alberto Gallace, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Milano-Bicocca in Italy, had to say about the emerging study of neurodesign. Understanding how our brains work can help you design more effective packages.

Next: I saved the “best” for last

#1. The world keeps changing, sometimes faster than we can keep up. So how can you be more proactive than reactive? Take a step back and look at the big picture. Then be strategic with your goals.

In early January, we presented “5 critical packaging trends for 2015” and connected them with major consumer and world trends. The article then went on to make specific suggestions on how packaging can or should satisfy these megatrends.

Based on the high number of page views, the advice was well received by our audience. This was our top article of the year by a comfortable margin.

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See a host of new ideas in packaging machinery, materials and more at WestPack 2016, Feb. 9-11 in Anaheim, CA.

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