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Armed with a packaging engineering Master's degree from Michigan State University and having worked at General Mills and Kraft Foods for 15 years prior to joining Target eight years ago, Kim Carswell, group manager, owned brands packaging, knows what it takes to develop packaging that's on-target with consumers.
What advice do you have for the next generation of packaging professionals?
It continues to be critical for packaging professionals to be strong technical team members who are also effective business partners. For instance, our technical skills range from understanding materials and how to protect products to being able to create brand-right aesthetic designs that are more sustainable.
Also, when a packaging professional understands the business strategies and challenges, they can effectively develop packaging solutions that will add real and relevant value. This includes understanding the consumer, competitive landscape, cost drivers and relevant technologies.
How do you motivate your team in packaging development?
The most significant motivator for the Target team is to be able to make a difference to the business and see their package designs on the shelf! At Target, our packaging is, at times, the physical manifestation of our owned brands in guests' homes. Target views packaging as an innovative place where our products and brands meet.
The team is motivated by understanding the business challenge and working collaboratively to meet that challenge. They are also motivated by getting out in the market to see the trends, connecting with packaging suppliers to stay relevant with new technologies and visiting our vendors to be able to partner with them to drive changes.
What do you like best about working in the packaging industry?
The best things about the packaging industry are the ability to see your work come to life, deliver business value and provide packaging solutions for our guests. The most successful projects I have worked on at Target include building both strong supply chain and internal partnerships. When you involve partners early, you are not only setting the work up to be successful by including diverse points of view, but you are also creating a team that will help deliver it to the market.
What excites you the most about packaging these days?
I am excited about three things. First, it energizes me to recruit and build strong teams of packaging professionals who bring their bright ideas and energy to work every day. Second, I am excited to see our work on the shelf at Target knowing we are building owned brand loyalty and differentiation. And, finally, I am excited to increase our focus and work on sustainability to drive meaningful improvements across the supply chain.
A retailing timeline: Targeting packaging
Opening in 1962 in a Minneapolis suburb, Target has grown to become the second largest general merchandise retailer in America, with nearly 1,800 stores in the U.S., 124 stores in Canada and more than 361,000 team members worldwide. Sales reached nearly $72 billion in 2012.
1974-Target introduces its first planograms, which presents guests with clean, uncluttered and in-stock merchandise presentations.
1988-The chain becomes the first mass merchandiser to introduce UPC scanning at all stores and distribution centers to yield greater inventory management, increased automation and a shorter wait time at checkout.
1995-Archer Farms, an exclusive store-brand line of premium grocery products, is introduced. The initial launch includes staples such as bread, milk, pasta and bottled water.
2005-Designer Deborah Adler partners with Target to create ClearRx, a landmark pharmacy concept launched in May that improves the way people take medication. The packaging features an easy-to-read bottle and color-coded rings to help minimize medication risk and confusion. The label wraps over both sides of a tapered, Target-red-tinted PETG bottle that stands on its head, with oversized, child-resistant and continuous-threaded closures providing stability in the medicine chest.
In 2010, The Industrial Designers Society of America honored ClearRx packaging with the Design of the Decade award, noting that the packaging addresses the communication, packaging and system deficiencies encountered by users of maintenance drugs, including the elderly.
2006-Target goes organic as one of the first grocers in the U.S. to meet USDA certified-organic produce guidelines.
2012-The company's store brands are a key component to success: Approximately one-third of sales now involve its owned and exclusive brands including Archer Farms, Market Pantry and Spritz.
The retailer, which celebrated its 50th birthday, innovates in mobile and online shopping via an award-winning mobile app that enables guests to use the app's QR code scanner to scan codes in store. And to make that easier, it launched free Wi-Fi in all stores.
2013-Simply Balanced, a health-and-wellness food brand of nearly 250 snack, pasta, beverage, frozen seafood, dairy and cereal products, is introduced. Key nutrition attributes are highlighted on the package front.
Target opens 124 stores in Canada, marking the company's largest ever single-year of store openings-more than its entire first decade of business.