Packaging development is more than "putting a box around a product"
The age-old marketing model, which favored investments in mass media, creativity on ad hoc basis, and an uncertain return on spending is long gone. Today, the use of technology, process and metrics dominate and drive any successful marketing campaign and this trend will continue in the future.
In recent times, package design and development has become an integral part of the entire new product development mechanism. Previously, the packaging technologist was the last one to be involved in any product development process. New computer based management tools have brought in this sea changes as people involved in this now understand the importance of packaging and its impact on the end users.
The packaging development process takes off with the Identification of all the requirements for the product to be developed. Followings are few things that are considered at this stage:
Shelf life of the product
End-use of the product
Just like the development cycle of products, the packaging development cycle also started putting emphasis on the incorporation of downstream processes like process planning, production planning and maintenance. This includes not only primary processes, but also addresses other aspects, such as life cycle analysis, cost estimation and various performance indicators.
While distinctly correlated to the product development cycle, the packaging development cycle is not obviously comparable. It at least requires special attention. The life cycles of the product and the packaging can differ enormous. In some cases the packaging/product combination is only relevant until the beginning of the usage phase of the product.
An example of this is the box used for transportation of bicycles. Adversely, a plastic bottle for sauces is used until the bottle is empty. When the packaging is designed for multi-usage, the life cycle of the packaging is even much longer than the life cycle of the product. This is for example the case for a refillable crate and bottle system.
Additionally, the ratio between the added value of the packaging and the added value of the product can be extremely dissimilar. Aiming at the optimal value for this ratio, an integrated approach for the development of product/packaging combinations is required. If an integrated method is applied in designing the product/packaging combination, the best agreeable solution for all the stakeholders in the product/packaging chain is achieved.
The primary function of any package originally addressed containing the product, and protecting it from the ambient environment. On the one hand this can imply protecting the product against the environment, to enhance the products life time and conserve its content. On the other hand it can imply the protection of the environment against the packaged product (e.g. for harmful or toxic content). In either case, packaging provides possibilities to facilitate the transport of the packaged content.
In current, everyday practice, packaging is usually developed from these primary functions, combined with a range of aspects that relate to the secondary functions of a package. These secondary functions of packaging originate from all the stakeholders that have an interest in the packaging chain. Stakeholders in the packaging industry are firstly stakeholders in the packaging industry itself, but can also be found in the producing sector, the distribution and retailing industry, the government and among product users. Looking at the wide range of stakeholders involved in the packaging chain gives insight in the range of interests, possibly requiring specific packaging functions or demands and constraints for the packaging. Consequently, the secondary functions of packaging address a wide range of fields like information and communication also know as communicative artefact's, sales, marketing, distribution, design, etc. This entirety can be seen as the macro environment of the package.