Consumer needs for active & intelligent food packaging?

Posted in Design, Drinks Packaging, Food Packaging, Innovation, Marketing, Materials, Opinion, Retailers, Technology, Tweets, cost-optimisation on July 5th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 9 Comments
Apparently over 30% food produced is wasted before being eaten

Apparently over 30% of food produced is wasted before being eaten

It is interesting to read that the focus of active and intelligent (A&I) packaging has shifted from “manufacturer concerns” such as shelf-life and spoilage to “consumer concerns such as freshness, quality and information”, according to recently published research.

The report – ‘The Future of Active and Intelligent Packaging in Food and Drinks’ said that industry leaders had identified “freshness indicators as the most important innovations in the field over the next five years. A development on quality was listed as the next most important field followed by temperature and time indicators.”

However, with over 30% of all food that we buy being wasted, I would hardly call “shelf-life and spoilage” just “manufacturing concerns”. They are huge and global concerns for everyone, much of which is to do with education and the role that packaging can play to save costs for everyone in the supply chain (very important in the present economic situation) but also, ultimately, to help save the planet’s finite resources.

I’m not sure how the research was conducted, what questions were asked, or how they were asked, but apparently, consumers ranked “health, convenience, safety and enhancing product attributes” as the most important attributes that would make them willing to pay more for A&I-packaged products. “Longer shelf-life and packaging that communicates product information” were also seen as important, but consumers perhaps see these as a ‘given’ and wouldn’t necessarily want to pay extra for them.

It is my feeling that the growth of A&I packaging has been primarily technology-led, by developments in sensor technology including nanosensors and biosensors. This is highlighted by the emerging trend of the incorporation of scavenging functions into packaging with bottles, labels or films. This is great technology, but I’m not sure that most consumers would understand what these are or what benefits they bring and therefore they would certainly not want to pay for their incorporation.

It is true that “Delivery of efficiencies in the value chain and the opportunity for manufacturers to differentiate their products and boost their efficiency by reducing product losses” will be major benefits for manufacturers and retailers – but what about consumers? There is a huge consumer-led marketing ‘trick’ being missed here, especially when “High production costs, compliance with food safety regulations and consumer mistrusts” are being highlighted in the report as “potential challenges”.

So, it is good to see that the consumer perspective is taking greater prominence (to some degree at least), in the New Product developments (NPD) that will help meet consumer needs in the expanding drinks and ready-meals segments. I agree, that the current focus for A&I has to be on luxury goods initially, and that it will move to lower-end products as the technology becomes more widely available and costs fall, but maybe it’s time to take a large ’step back’, flip this around completely and look at it from a consumers’ point-of-view. It is up to us all to educate consumers – highlight the wider issues of food (and water) waste & spoilage, get them to understand the more holistic effects of these on their daily ‘wants & (real) needs’ and ultimately get their ‘buy-in’ to the ‘real’ benefits.
Chris Penfold

You can read the full article at

Many thanks to @PhilCyLaw in Brussels for bringing this to our attention via Twitter.

Leveraging Captain Morgan’s brand & packaging assets through NEW media

Posted in Branding, Business News, Drinks Packaging, Marketing, Product News, Social Media, Tweets on June 18th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 8 Comments
Captain Morgan wielding his packaging assets

Captain Morgan wielding his packaging assets

A few weeks ago I had the privilege to listen to Paul Walsh CEO of Diageo, the world’s leading spirits, beer and wine company, deliver a ‘marketing’ talk at Nottingham Business School (Nottingham Trent University). It was entitled “Marketing & Communication in 2010 – Responding to the New Stakeholder Condition” and was such a powerful &  interesting insight, I thought I’d provide you with an overview and share some of my thoughts with you.

Diageo is the proud owner of some of the biggest ‘power brands’ on the planet, such as Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Baileys, J&B, Captain Morgan, Jose Cuervo, Bushmills & Tanqueray. Both Guinness and Johnnie Walker have been around for over 200 years and Bushmills almost 400 years. Some feat! and a tremendous bank of heritage on which to pull (or push – or whatever you like really!).

Walsh is a fine orator, who is passionate about his brands and company. He talked about the basis of all iconic brands being ‘great products’ driven by FACE (Flair, Agility, Consumer insight and then Executed flawlessly). But he also acknowledged that the global marketplace is constantly evolving which affects the way we live and interact with our favoured brands.  At the same time, broadband is proving to be the biggest technological development since the introduction of television. As the world ‘goes on-line’ a whole new media stream has opened up to feed a young and dynamic market who have ‘bags of energy’ and want to ‘party’.  Walsh highlighted this momentous change by showing the video Shift Happens – some mind-blowing & thought provoking figures (I’m sure you will agree).

So the ‘rules of engagement’ have changed, and indeed are constantly evolving. Advertising spend in traditional media such as magazines, newspapers and TV has ‘nose-dived’ and has been diverted into new media, where Diageo, and other companies for that matter, have “up-weighted their spend in the digital space” and enjoyed much bigger ‘bangs for their buck’, realising huge cost savings.

It is clear that Diageo have become masters of leveraging the new technology. Key to their success, according to Walsh, can be attributed to a 5-point plan:

1. Having a good product

2. Being clear about the target

3. Identifying the single most compelling benefit

4. Effectively dramatising that benefit

5. Saying and constantly repeating it through the most effective channels

Affiliated to this is the ability for brands to attract and become “participants in a conversation NOT simply involved in a top-down message”. Metaphorically, he likened this to a change from a game of ten-pin-bowling, with a one-ball strike to a game of pinball, banging, bouncing, to-ing and fro-ing through a maze of buffers and pins. In this new media world, Walsh alluded to 3 types of people:

Passive participants – Those who are completely passive and soak up all of the information ‘thrown at them’ via static websites

Engaged participants – people who are engaged and share information via social media platforms

Active participants – those who voraciously add content on-line and are hugely influential

These 3 groups of people seem to inhabit this digital world in approximate ratios of 90 : 9 : 1 (respectively). It is the small group of active participants have been key to Diageo’s new media brand success. By influencing these people in this sector they have turn their brands from on-shelf icons to (almost) living and breathing entities.

A classic example of this success is Captain Morgan, which has rocketed over recent years and now holds a prestigious No2 position for premium rum brands. The driver behind this has been the building and grooming of the ‘Captain’ icon as a ‘living legend’. This hasn’t happened by accident. A carefully orchestrated campaign has evolved through the ‘Captain’s Cup’, video and photo ‘collateral’ and word-of-mouth – driven by social media. The Captain has a certain physical stance or  ‘pose’ and when an interpretation of that ‘pose’ was ’struck by a famous US NFL football star on the pitch during the Super-bowl, it took on a completely new iconic dimension. There followed a series of copycat ‘poses’ by a number of esteemed brand advocates, including David Letterman on his prime-time  TV show. Media-savvy Diageo capitalised on this by offering a $10,000 prize to famous people striking the pose in public places & at high-profile events, all building on the character of ‘The Captain’ and acting s a ‘viral’ growth driver for the ‘living legend’. It has proved a very cost-effective way of marketing.

As an aside, it is interesting to note that this type of ‘non-sponsorship’ could be classed as a more passive form of  ‘ambush marketing, which is actually very topical at the moment. In the South African World Cup this week (14th June), 2 Dutch women were arrested for ambush advertising and 36 women ejected from one of the stadiums when they were spotted wearing short orange dresses made by the Dutch brewery Bavaria, in conflict with  Anheuser-Busch’s Budweiser who are the official beer of the event. It led to quite a fuss and ITV media pundit Robbie Earle was sacked from his role when it was claimed by FIFA that he had sold tickets meant for family and friends on to the Dutch beer company.

Getting back to Diageo, another fine example of leveraging the new technology, has been the Smirnoff ‘be there’ media campaign built on a ‘viral’ marketing platform. Here young (25-30 yr old) party-goers were encouraged, via social networking sites like Twitter & Facebook, to provide ideas on their perfect party events – a party that they would remember for all time – to have ‘been there’. Diageo then picked the best ideas, provided funding to hold the event and a short video was shot at each which were then posted on YouTube. Here’s an example of a Smirnoff ‘Be There‘ TV advert. These have also proved a phenomenal success for Diageo at moderate expense – a terrific Return on Investment (ROI).

So, all in all, Diageo have shown great foresight in their on-line endeavours; an area that has worked well and is sure to be developed by them further across all of their brands. If companies want to stay ‘ahead of the game’ in an increasingly fragmented market, they need to embrace and adopt new ways of working and promoting themselves (and their brands), using creativity, flair and imagination. In this respect they could learn much from Diageo.

It also goes without saying, that in these recessionary times, where marketing budgets are being slashed, left, right and centre in huge cost-cutting exercises, the time and effort invested will also reap huge benefits in cost and greater ROI…..and will also work wonders for a brands’ ’street cred’ ;-)   Why not get in touch and see how we could help you Contact Design Cognition OR, if you’re a more hands on person why not have a look at our forthcoming Branding and Shelf Impact training course.

Chris Penfold

Plant-based polypropylene packaging. Is spinach next?

Posted in Cosmetics & Toiletries, Design, Environmental Issues, Innovation, Materials, Opinion, Product News, Technology, Tweets on February 8th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 4 Comments


popeye spinach packaging polymers

popeye spinach packaging polymers?

‘Vegetarian’ polymers seem to be on the increase with yet another innovative initiative that, this time, uses natural cress plant waste, which is combined with a variety of different polypropylene grades to produce a range of packaging materials to suit different types of products with a variety of finishes. Allegedly they are produced using significantly lower CO² emissions than ‘conventional’ plastics.

The material called ‘Agriplast’ has been developed by German bio manufacturing company Biowert, which sources the cress-based waste from farms in the immediate area around Brensbach, in southern Germany, where the factory is based.

This sounds like a really innovative initiative and the the project is a collaboration between German company AHA Kunstofftechnik and French-based packaging manufacturer Cosmeco, who have combined resources to develop this material for use, initially, in cosmetics packaging.

Rumour has it that use of spinach for this type of polymer project could be a next-step development, something that could potentially really increase material tensile properties and produce a product as strong as iron – but this has yet to be verified and Mr P.Peye was unavailable for comment ;-) LOL

The full ‘Agriplast’ natural cress article, 8th Feb 2010, can be read here at

Thanks to @MarktheSpaMan for bringing our attention to this article via Twitter

Something for the weekend? may not be what you bargained for!

Posted in Branding, Business News, Cosmetics & Toiletries, Healthcare & Pharma, Legal, Marketing, Product News, Safety, Tweets on January 25th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 9 Comments

A recent Los Angeles Times article examines how an increase in counterfeit condoms in China has health officials fearing the worst — the products “may in fact spread infectious diseases, tarnishing the axiom that condoms mean safe sex.”

The newspaper continues, “Authorities estimate that up to a third of the contraceptives used in some parts of China are counterfeits, despite improvements in state food and drug oversight. None of the counterfeits are properly sterilized, and others are of such inferior quality that they could rupture during use.”

The article details how authorities are attempting to track down what they estimate are more than one million condoms distributed throughout China, and notes how the knock-off condoms were uncovered in discount stores in New York, Texas and Virginia in 2008.

Thanks to @TheBodyGlobal for bringing our attention to this article via Twitter. More articles like this can be read at:

Season’s greetings from the Design Cognition team

Posted in Design Cognition News, Events, Healthcare & Pharma, Opinion, Social Media, Tweets on December 17th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 17 Comments

As 2009 draws to a close, we’d like to express our thanks and best wishes to all of our customers, suppliers and associates. Have a fantastic Christmas break and a happy & prosperous New Year and we look forward to doing further business with you all in 2010.

The Design Cognition team have put together the attached video production as a bit of light hearted seasonal frivolity.

We hope that you like it. :-)

A promise for the New Year

Posted in Business News, Design Cognition News, Healthcare & Pharma, Innovation, Opinion, Social Media, Tweets on December 16th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 4 Comments
Sometimes it’s good to stand back and reflect on what we are all trying to achieve and the way in which we will achieve it. The following is relevant to you, whatever your colour, creed or religion.

As we begin the Holiday Season in preparation for the New Year, I would like to share with you “The Optimist’s Creed” I received from one of my LinkedIn connections, Al Bagocius. The link is @

It made me stop and think and I hope it will do the same for you. I considered it a gift, and I hope you will, too!

All the best to you and your families for a wonderful Holiday Season & a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Kind regards

Almost half of counterfeit buyers progress to real thing, says study

Posted in Branding, Cosmetics & Toiletries, Gift Packaging, Healthcare & Pharma, Legal, Marketing, Tweets on December 15th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 5 Comments

The following article provides a fascinating insight into the ‘placebo affect’ of counterfeit goods as a ‘taster’ for the ‘real thing’.It would be interesting to find out whether this affect is evident in the purchase & use of counterfeit packaged goods. I should imagine that it probably is true with counterfeit cosmetics but unlikley with pharmaceuticals. What do you think? Chris

From OUT-LAW News, 10/12/2009 and brought to our attention via @fmpickering - thanks Francine!

Nearly half the people who buy counterfeit handbags buy the real thing within two years, according to an academic study. The research shows that fakes can create brand loyalty in the counterfeited brands.

A researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who used to be a brand manager at luxury goods firm Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) asked hundreds of fake bag buyers about their habits in an unpublished study ‘The Real Value Of Fakes’.

Renee Richardson Gosline interviewed the consumers who knew when they bought them that the bags were fakes and found that 46% of them bought authentic branded bags within two years.

“For some status-seeking people, at least, the social power of luxury goods means that consumption must not just be conspicuous, but real,” said a statement from MIT describing the research.

“The counterfeit actually served as a placebo for brand attachment,” Gosline told news service Bloomberg . “People were becoming increasingly attached to the real brand even though they never possessed it at all.”

You can read the full article here: OUT-LAW New

You can find further information on counterfeiting and evolving technologies, via Design Cognition’s sister site The Pharma Gateway‘. Also, if you are interested in our forthcoming counterfeiting workshops – let us know.

Global experts meet this week to develop environmental standards

Posted in Associations, Business News, Environmental Issues, Government, Recycling, Tweets on December 10th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 8 Comments

Stockholm, Sweden — Experts from 15 countries are meeting this week to begin developing standards to cover environmental issues related to packaging such as reuse, recycling and composting.

recyclingAbout 70 delegates from China, Japan, Korea, the United States and 11 European countries are meeting in Sweden for the first gathering for the SC4 Packaging and Environment committee.

Published on 12th Dec 2009 and brought to our attention by our Twitter friend @packagindiva – thanks JoAnn! It would be good to get some consistency in this area. Well overdue. What to you think? Chris

The full article can be read here:

Britvic Cuts Weight of Glass Bottles

Posted in Drinks Packaging, Environmental Issues, Tweets on September 18th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 6 Comments

From Packaging-Gateway 17th September 2009

UK soft drinks maker Britvic has cut the amount of glass in its bottles of J20 juice drink to reduce packaging.

The weight reduction measure means the 275ml J2O bottle is 20g lighter than before, down from 200g to 180g.

The company expects to save around 4,000 tons of glass annually, equivalent to 20 million bottles of J2O a year, Ultimate said.

As part of a programme of measures introduced by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the company expects to remove 5,000 tons of packaging from landfills by December 2010.

Read the original and other interesting articles here: Packaging Gateway – Britvic Cuts Weight of Glass Bottles.

Thanks go out to @process_tech for bringing our attention to this article

Why Sustainability Is Now the Key Driver of Innovation

Posted in Business News, Environmental Issues, Innovation, Opinion, Tweets on August 19th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 6 Comments

From an article by Ram Nidumolu, C.K. Prahalad, and M.R. Rangaswami on  19th Aug 2009

I certainly concur with Nidumolu, Prahalad & Rangaswami in their assertion that “the quest for sustainability can unearth a mother lode of organizational and technological innovations that yield both top-line and bottom-line returns. That quest has already begun to transform the competitive landscape, as companies redesign products, technologies, processes, and business models.”

And also that “By equating sustainability with innovation today, enterprises can lay the groundwork that will put them in the lead when the recession ends.”

However, they also say that “When companies pursue sustainability, it’s usually to demonstrate that they are socially responsible. They expect that the endeavor will add to their costs, deliver no immediate financial benefits, and quite possibly erode their competitiveness.“  I don’t think that this is necessarily true.

They do generally want to demonstrate ’social responsibility’ (although many I believe are failing to recoup the full marketing benefits of this – i.e. if you are doing it – SHOUT about it!) BUT I don’t think that they believe it will add to their costs. Quite the reverse in fact, I think many now set out to cut/optimise costs and capitalise on a sustainable story at the same time – as demonstrated by the recent ‘cost-optimisation & sustainability’ competition that we ran.

What do you think? I’d be interested to hear

Chris Penfold

Read the full Article here: Why Sustainability Is Now the Key Driver of Innovation –

Thanks to @Huttson on Twitter for bringing this article to our attention