Editor's Note: This is one of a series of Management Checklists articles posted at PTIS's Intellectual Capital Center to help companies better manage packaging programs and projects. Copyright 2010 Packaging & Technology Integrated Solutions LLC. Used with permission.
This tactic is about actually taking photos of your competitors' packages. Gather packages for each competitor and take a photo of each individually. Take photos of your packaging, too. Include different sizes, varieties and price points. Insert all the photos into a software application—a database, a spreadsheet, PowerPoint, Word, a page layout program—whatever is easiest for you. Then, put up on a screen and assess for trends.
What to look for
Packaging changes respond to many drivers, and a snapshot of your competitors' packaging may show marketplace trends. Here are some points to evaluate:
• Shelf impact: Are there decoration techniques or structural innovations that appear to largely address shelf impact? For example, a raised glitter coating on paperboard cartons as a high shelf impact technique.
• Cost: The Costco gallon milk jug is a cost-driven innovation. The strategy appears to address cost rather than consumer convenience (a lot of talk about consumers spilling milk until they adapted to the package). Shelf impact is not an objective in the traditional sense (although the massed jugs in the cooler support Costco's positioning as a high-volume, high-value retailer).
• Innovation: Are there new technologies that help the package enable the product in either real or perceived ways or both. How do these new benefits provide additional value—how might they add value to your products?
• Price: Have competitors downsized package contents to hit traditional price points? Do competitors have different packaging for different price points—good, better, best—in a category?
• Performance: Are competitors adding barrier or making changes to get better strength with lower materials cost? Have package configurations changed to gain better efficiencies in distribution-higher cube utilization, for example?
• Convenience: Are closures adding consumer convenience? Think beyond closures, too. Bottle shape can make pouring easier.
• Where you rank: Are you at parity, above or below packaging of your competitors in terms of the characteristics listed above?
Where do you find them?
Be sure to use the competitive snapshot to assess all of your competitors' distribution channels. You may find that packaging attributes change for different channels. Club stores, convenience stores, mainline grocers, category killers may demand different packaging, and competitors may or may not respond. Use the snapshot to get those trends, too.
Source: Packaging & Technology Integrated Solutions LLC