Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor

January 30, 2014

4 Min Read
Staying in touch



Joe Pagliaro

International beer master Heineken exhibits a thirst for delighting its consumers. Joe Pagliaro, director of innovation and packaging, Heineken USA, describes a bit of the company's philosophy on how it does that and offers advice on how to brew ground-breaking packaging designs.


Q: What excites you the most about packaging these days?
Pagliaro: "Design Thinking." Rather than packaging items in the same mundane way with only the factory in mind, packages are now being developed with careful consideration given to the end user as a way to enhance the consumer experience. Heineken USA is so entrenched in design thinking that our entire pipeline is rooted in consumer insight and is being developed to both surprise and excite the consumer. 

A recent example is our Beers of Mexico cooler pack. While there are, and have been, many cooler packs in the market, our pack is designed is a way that there is actually room to add ice without having to remove any cans. Again, it ties back to "Design Thinking" and putting the consumer first.


Q: What do you like best about working in the packaging industry?
Pagliaro: Packaging is multi-faceted and opens a lot of doors for career development. From a personal standpoint, I started my career as a packaging engineer, tasked with making the best package at the lowest cost. Through working for great bosses at great companies, my career path took me to project management and now marketing and innovation where I set the multi-year strategy, for both the package and the beer, tasking our supply chain to develop the ultimate consumer offering.


Q: What advice do you have for the next generation of packaging professionals?
Pagliaro: "Yes" and "No" rarely ever lead to ground breaking packaging innovations. Marketers aren't usually up to speed with the latest technology and therefore may only ask for a standard solution instead of innovative insight-based solutions. Instead, adopt an attitude of "yes, and..." The "yes" part shows respect and commitment to the project manager that you will do what is asked. However, the "and" is a proactive approach that can enrich an idea and give the packaging expert the opportunity to offer a creative solution to surprise and excite the consumer.



From embossed bottles and tactile inks to black-light designs and aluminum bottles, Heineken creates packages that ignite beer drinkers all around the globe.


2010 — Heineken launches a new iconic bottle worldwide. The restyling unifies the visual identity on bottles and cans to make the brand more recognizable in nearly all 170 markets where Heineken is sold. The progressive packaging introduces sensory elements—such as embossments and strategically placed indents on bottles, and tactile ink on cans—adding to the consumer's overall drinking experience.


Heineken USA launches an aluminum STR Bottle that, when viewed under the black lights in a club, illuminates to reveal a previously hidden pattern of stars and trails. The 16-oz STR Bottle also displays a progressive European design, indicative of the upscale style of Heineken's consumer.


2012 — Heineken introduces the "Star Bottle" for on- and off-premise sales in the New York market, ahead of the national launch in March 2013. Available in 12-oz and 22-oz sizes, the green glass bottle is taller and thinner, with a more modern, premium look. It also features an embossed thumb groove that improves the grip and encourages people to hold the bottle at a lower point, keeping the beer colder.

An open innovation project through the company's invites consumers to share sustainable packaging concepts—including re-use or recycling ideas, new packaging materials or more sustainable transportation methods—and compete for a $10,000 prize.




Heineken IgNite bottle


2013 — "Ignite" interactive bottle prototypes debut at The Milan Design Fair in April 2013. Micro sensors and wireless networking in the bottle can detect various motions—such as cheering, drinking and sitting idle in a bar or club—and these motions trigger eight bright LEDs in a reusable housing under the bottle to light up. The lights can be activated remotely, too, by video jockey (VJ) software and synched to musical beats.


Another packaging project centers around attracting older consumers, specifically men aged 60-70. Concepts from six finalists make the shortlist.


Brazilian designer Fernando Degrossi is selected as the winner of Heineken's 2012/13 Your Future Bottle Design Challenge. His design remixes five circular Heineken logos from five different decades along with the red star, Heineken's famous trademark. The judges agreed that the design was clever, with the combination of assets spelling out "Heineken" in a way that is fresh but instantly recognizable. The limited-edition bottle will go on sale in select global markets in early 2014.



About the Author(s)

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Executive Editor, Packaging Digest

Lisa McTigue Pierce is Executive Editor of Packaging Digest. She’s been a packaging media journalist since 1982 and tracks emerging trends, new technologies, and best practices across a spectrum of markets for the publication’s global community. Reach her at [email protected] or 630-272-1774.

Sign up for the Packaging Digest News & Insights newsletter.

You May Also Like