Archive for May, 2010

Would you like to get your hands on some EC funding to help develop & commercialise your packaging ideas?

Posted in Business News, Design, Design Cognition News, Environmental Issues, Healthcare & Pharma, Innovation, Materials, Technology on May 21st, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 6 Comments
EC Packaging Project Funding available

EC Packaging Project Funding available

Later this year (July) it is expected that the EC will publish a call for proposals to support the packaging industry to find new ways of adding value to its products. Large companies (>250 employees) can receive a grant of 50% towards their costs whilst SMEs can receive grants up to 75%.  The European Commission is looking for proposals that produce packaging concepts exhibiting the following properties:

· superb barrier properties in terms of durability and protection capabilities utilizing e.g. nanocoatings or thin films for enhancing consumer safety and to extend the shelf life of packaged, perishable goods;

· smart features incorporating nanotechnology such as indicators, sensors, protection against counterfeit and tampering, product traceability indicators, interactive components or biometric components which can be added to packaging  using low cost printing technologies, such as roll-to-roll printing;

· utilisation of materials derived from a sustainable and renewable source, recyclability or biodegradability, and the applicability of resource-efficient (material, energy, water) package production processes.

Maybe you are part of a large corporation that has identified some opportunities but don’t have the finance or resource to take them forward  (e.g. a sustainability or technology project that has the potential to ‘add value’)
or on the other hand, you could be part of an academic institution, Knowledge Transfer Network or SME who has a technology that is looking for a ‘home’.

Either way – I am looking for opportunities to help match you up, build a ‘value case’ and try and get our hands on some of this funding. So if you are interested – please get in touch: (putting ‘EC Funding’ in the title)

Chris Penfold

High street packaging dreams – end in ‘the den’

Posted in Branding, Business News, Design, Drinks Packaging, Food Packaging, Healthcare & Pharma, Marketing, Opinion, Product News, Retailers on May 19th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 598 Comments
Den Kit packaging branding

Den Kit packaging branding

Monday night saw the 2nd programme in the mini series High Street Dreams (8 programmes) on BBC1. The ‘reality TV show’ about product branding, packaging & design development. Over the series Jo Malone and Nick Leslau will help a number of individuals as they try to launch new products. From a packaging and design perspective, I don’t think that this week’s show was as good & fulfilling as the first, but still entertaining. The ‘guinea pigs’ included:

Primary school teachers from Shropshire – Jo Jones & Kay Miller who developed a ‘Den Kit’ – a fun and adventure product to help kids play & learn the old fashioned way! Good old ‘home farm’ values and fun!

Initially chopping trees down themselves in rural Shropshire to make ‘handmade’ wooden mallets, they proposed a huge retail price of  £40 per pack. However after visiting the annual Toy Fair where the average toy price was £6.70, they were forced to reconsider. Their mentor David Strang, an entrepreneur & leading toy manufacturer, emphasised the importance of  ‘eye catching’ packaging (good to hear!) which helped his own products increase sales by a factor of 25!

The ladies took this ‘on board’ and a “top graphic designer” was brought in to develop the branding, but I must say it left me disappointed. Although the typography was strong, with an ‘all over’ camouflage effect. Not sure that it had enough ’shelf stand-out, without any alluring photography or a means to view the products inside. But we didn’t have the benefit of a proper evaluation of competitor packs and ’sight’ of all packs on shelf together. Certainly if it had been our project we would have also considered other packaging options (rather than standard carton) to try and incorporate the above factors and try and add more consumer appeal, convenience & value.

The ladies did manage to get their costs down substantially by sourcing components from a brother in the Philippines. Enabling a revised price point of just under £30.

They christened their overarching brand as ‘Real Adventure’ & pitched to the MD Duncan Grant of the ‘Entertainer’ retail chain who was certainly ‘wavering’ and undecided on whether or not to stock the product. He loved the ‘down to earth’ product concept and I think that most of his concern was targeted at the packaging. He mentioned that the packaging  needed “more work” but did eventually give the ‘ go-ahead’ to try out the products in his 52 high street stores in the UK.

The revised Den Kit packaging

The revised Den Kit packaging

The kit contains: tarpaulin, groundsheet, handmade mallet, tent pegs, tent peg bag, 10m rope, metal mug, camouflage paint, webbing haversack & instructions

Since filming, Jo & Kay have certainly been busy and now have other products featured on their website which you can see here: Flibberty

You can follow them on Twitter: @DenKit

The second product featured on the programme was Nutriyum. Husband and wife, Paul and Maria Stricker quit their lucrative city jobs and invested their life savings (over £15K) to create Nutriyum – a healthy drink for young kids. Developing a drink that is both nutritious and tasty is tough enough, but they had just eight weeks to formulate a product in order to secure themselves a place on the highly competitive supermarket shelves. They enlisted the expertise of Ella’s Kitchen founder Paul Lindley and Little Dish’s Hillary Graves to help them focus, but sadly time was against them and despite bags of enthusiasm,  had failed to do their homework!!

The initial products offered by Paul & Maria were banana & strawberry flavours – but containing no fruit! The product was redeveloped within a matter of days from the previous synthetic mix into a chilled fresh fruit smoothie, which the couple were expecting to sell at the premium price of £1. Leslau affirmed the importance of pitching with a real product – NOT a prototype – something that we would strongly endorse. In our experience, retailers, buyers & marketers often find it difficult to visualise the ‘final product’, so it’s critical to get as close as possible with your product & packaging in any ’sales pitch’. Something that can be achieved quite easily these days with the ability to provide quick-turnaround physical mock-ups & realistic digitally printed artwork.

Leslau also emphasised the importance of gaining ’shelf space’ with retailers. I would also mention that stores sometimes measure profits in terms of the profit per length of shelving – which needs to be borne in mind in any pack design! Retailers need to be able to:

  • Restrict their investment to the lines that will sell
  • Buy in small quantities (keeping minimum stock)
  • Buy goods that generate the highest levels of profit

Indeed we would emphasise the importance of meeting the business needs of all supply chain parties – suppliers, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers & customers – all are interdependent.

Manufacturing was shown in more detail this week, as the young couple hired contract filling facilities to fill prototypes – at a cost of £5000 (+£1000 for materials) – only to come to the conclusion that they had been packed in an inappropriate packaging format (an expensive mistake to make and underlines the importance of thinking these things through properly and employing ‘experts’ to help from the outset – which can actually work out more cost-effective in the long run!)

The packs chosen for filling were Guala ’style’ ‘doy’ packs, commonly used on drinks like Lucozade, but would have presented the wrong ‘messages, cues & triggers’ for the ’single shot’ proposition intended. The branding agency chosen by Malone and Leslau were ‘Identica’ who (not surprisingly) struggled to find a fit with the brand name ‘Nutriyum’ and also with the overall pack proposition (considering that the product ingredients were synthetic but supposed to be healthy and appeal to young mothers). So there was a big ‘disconnect’ there. If more market research had been undertaken by the couple before developing their product/brand a totally different & more focused offering would have been achieved.

Ultimately, Paul & Maria realised their problem and simply ran out of time, so decided themselves to ‘bow out’ – a very brave decision considering the allure of retail endorsement and the TV PR coverage they would have gained for their new brand (despite that – they certainly got some good coverage anyway!). I feel that they made the right decision and will ‘live to fight another day’, once they’ve got it right.

As it happens, I undertook some research on the web today, and it does appear that the couple have been ‘beavering away’ in the background. Although the product is “not in the shops yet”, you can find out more about their endeavours on-line (link below). As a matter of interest Nutri-Yum does already appear to been trademarked by someone else (which wasn’t mentioned in the programme by anyone!)  Paul & Maria do seem to have taken ‘on-board’ the comments made in the programme and redeveloped their branding & packaging (and no-doubt the formulation also). In fact a completely different product offering! Certainly an improvement on what was shown on the TV – but probably in need of a bit more work. The brand name has been changed to ‘nyum‘. According to Wikipedia, this means “Swallowing in Catalan” – which I suppose is reasonably appropriately. However, a quick search on Google, pulls up a huge array of ‘nyum nyum’ activity & ‘noise’ – much of which seems to relate to eating BUT none of which relates to this new brand – so I feel that more work is needed there guys! You can see the latest offering on their website

We wish all parties featured in the programme every success with their products, but the big learnings for anyone in their position are:

  • Include product development & design specialists from the start if you want success (we can give you a free consultation if you are unsure)!
  • Make your mistakes early on in the process, before you’ve spent too much money
  • Learn from your mistakes
  • Don’t be afraid to ‘pull the plug’ if it doesn’t feel right!

Next week the High Street Dreams team will help two sets of partners market fashion products. If you want to watch last night’s programme again you can download it on i-player here: 17th May programme


Chris Penfold

New Design, But Why Pink?

Posted in Design on May 19th, 2010 by Jane Bear – 6 Comments

karl_lagerfeld_coca_cola_light_bottleCarl Lagerfeld has designed a new limited edition Coco Cola Light bottle specifically for the French Market.  It’s different, has a definite presence and will no doubt become a collector’s item in its gift box with matching bottle opener but I don’t see why they have used pink? 

Coco Cola’s brand colours have always included their iconic red, so why depart from that now.  I believe the contrast caused by using the black and white design with a  red highlight would have had even more impact.  (Jane Bear)Karl-Lagerfeld-Coca-Cola-Box-Set-1

Research For The Weekend?

Posted in Drinks Packaging on May 14th, 2010 by Jane Bear – 13 Comments

plastic wine bottleNow maybe this is a spot of research many of us could take part in or even reach a conclusion for ourselves.  Earlier this week Waitrose announced that it would stocking wines in plastic bottles especially to make it’s ‘festival going clientele happy’  This came hot on the heals of M&S who’d announced only a week ago that it would now be stocking wine in 25cl plastic bottles.  

Both of the stores claim that the wine looses none of its taste, or gains any taint from the plastic and is guaranteed to keep for at least 12 months.  Sounds great and will be ideal for the summer (if we ever get one) and alfresco dining, whether in the back garden or at a festival. BUT……………..

Also released this week is a report by researchers at the Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences (ISW) in Bordeaux, France.  They say they found that the alcohol starts to oxidise and that wine stored in plastic bottles and boxes loses its freshness within six months! 

That doesn’t bode well for the new plastic wine bottle trend.  Maybe we should all do a little bit of further research on this – of course I’m not encouraging anybody to drink, and if you do please drink responsibly, but if you are opening a bottle of wine tonight it would be interesting to hear your own views on plastic vs glass in the taste stakes. (Jane Bear)

You can find more details on the report here – Daily Mail

To read Waitrose’s claims just follow this link to our friends at Packaging News

Universal standards for prescription medication labels

Posted in Healthcare & Pharma, Safety on May 12th, 2010 by Jane Bear – 8 Comments

Looks like the US are now implementing their version of readability requirements currently in place in the UK/EU.

The recommended 12 point font size for critical information is going to be challenging. (Annie Dallison)

To read the full article just follow the link to PMPNews

Sounds Good To Me…

Posted in Cosmetics & Toiletries on May 12th, 2010 by Jane Bear – Be the first to comment

According to Mintel the new trend in Cosmetics is ‘Cocooning’ – basically staying at home and pampering your self rather than going to a spa.  That sounds great to me, so long as the house is quiet (although mine rarely is).  

It might not be everybody’s ‘cup of tea’ but it is having an interesting effect on cosmetic and skincare packaging with more distinctive shapes appearing.  According to Karine Dussimon, Packaging Analyst at Euromonitor ‘people are not only spending more time at home, but are also expecting to be increasingly individual in their product choices’ (Jane Bear)

To read the full article just follow this link to

High street dreams? a packaging reality!

Posted in Branding, Business News, Design, Food Packaging, Marketing, Product News, Retailers, Social Media on May 11th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 4 Comments
Mr Singh's new branding logo

Mr Singh's new branding logo

A  new mini series High Street Dreams (8 programmes) kicked off on BBC1 last night that is a ‘reality TV show’ about product branding, packaging & design development – and very entertaining it was too. Over the series Jo Malone and Nick Leslau will help a number of individuals as they try to launch new products. Last night’s ‘guinea pigs’ included:

Mr Singh’s Chilli sauce ( and Asian Singh family of 7 from East London who have developed a unique “dynamite” chilli sauce over a number of years and now want to “take on the world”. Having already developed their own packaging they were ‘knocking out’ 1000 bottles a day in their garden shed. However, after undertaken some market research on local doorsteps they redefined their key brand messages and with the help Pearlfisher, undertook a complete brand overhaul. Anyhow, it must have been successful because the conclusion was a trial in 3 London Asda stores and their website now lists a number of other independent stockists.

New Muddy Boots brand logo

New Muddy Boots brand logo

Meanwhile, Roland & Miranda Ballard, the couple behind the gourmet ‘Aberdeen Angus’ burger range Muddy Boots Foods, worked with Blue Marlin. Together they revamped their vacuum packed burger range, which when showed to shoppers in it’s existing packaging, was described as “looking like dog food”. Anyhow, after development of  bespoke ‘windowed’ carton to show-off a tantalising view of the top-quality prime cuts, they managed to secure a trial in a few Waitrose stores (although Waitrose weren’t totally convinced of the merits of the small window). So top marks to all concerned! A good insight for those of you not involved in teh industry, on how a brand and packaging can be redeveloped & invigorated. You can find out more about Muddy Boots foods at ( Both companies also have Twitter accounts (@mrsinghssauce & @muddybootsfoods ) and they both have Facebook accounts.

Next week the High Street Dreams team will help two sets of partners market children’s products. If you want to watch last night’s programme again you can download it on i-player here: 10th May programme

Cheers Chris Penfold

Packaging sustainability – a multi-faceted approach

Posted in Materials, Opinion, Recycling on May 6th, 2010 by admin – 5 Comments
Planet Earth

Planet Earth

I found it interesting to read Incpen director Jane Bickerstaffe’s argument against the introduction of single measures to assess packaging’s impact on the environment. There is so much ‘green wash’ and ‘hogwash’ out there, that it’s not surprising people are confused.

I totally agree that a holistic approach needs to be  adopted, considering all supply chain implications. Companies need to aim for overall resource efficiency and work towards sustainability balancing economic, environmental and social considerations. This may sound ‘easier said than done’, but as Jane points out “it isn’t if it is based on actual information about product damage and spoilage rates and a good dose of common sense. After all, that’s what we all do when we go shopping – we look at financial cost, quality, quantity, aesthetic appeal, life-span and, increasingly, many of us look at environmental information. We balance them all out and decide what we want.”

So take a ’step back’ and think again about your corporate ‘carbon footprint’ policy or your move to make all of your packaging ‘lightweighted’, ‘recyclable or ‘reusable’. You may be ‘hitting the right’ buttons in terms of government policies and legislation, but are you really doing what’s best for the planet and a sustainable future?

Let’s have some common-sense here. With a little thought, a multi-faceted approach can be justified and work. Let us know what you think!

Chris Penfold

To read Jane’s full article just follow the link to our friends at Packaging News

Fun With A 2D Barcode?

Posted in Drinks Packaging, Marketing on May 4th, 2010 by Jane Bear – 12 Comments

2D barcode on HeinekenHeineken’s new summer marketing campaign will include the use of 2D barcodes.  Maybe not what 2D barcodes were intended for, but definitely a fun and engaging use for them.

The idea behind their campaign is that you text a number on the pack and they send you a link so you can download a free app which enables you to scan 2D barcodes with your phone.  You then scan the 2D barcode on the promotional packs and you’ll then be told whether you’ve won. 

Not really pushing the 2D barcode to its potential, but certainly making far more consumers aware of their existence.  According to Heineken ‘their consumers are early adopters of new technology’

I think it will be interesting to see where else the barcodes ‘pop’ up and who will be next to use them for interacting with their consumers? (Jane Bear)

To read the full article just follow this link to Mobile Marketer