A Virtual Mockup
Software modeling can provide significant timesavings when moving from concept to final design selection.
LAST TIME I checked my list of top-10 packaging business buzzwords, the term "value-add" had slipped the ranks. Along with other feel-good phrases like "total quality" and "solutions provider," it's getting squeezed out to the jargon fringe by new favorites like "commodity," "consolidation," and "supply-chain optimization." Maybe those terms weigh in heavier during times of economic uncertainty, but I find it refreshing that there are still links in the packaging supply chain where there is opportunity to add value. Where? In the rendering, or visualization, of new packaging designs.
Some current estimates put the number of new product introductions for the year 2002 at more than 22,000—the most since 1995 and 15 percent more than 2001 (Mintel's Global New Products Database, Chicago, Ill.). Take a cruise through the local grocery mart, or a trip down the cosmetics aisle of an upscale department store. You'll see how much creativity is going into the packaging for those new products, or going into the repackaging of old products to make them more attractive, easier to use, or less likely to get crushed at the bottom of a shopping cart filled with other products.
Regardless, for every new package that actually makes it to the store shelves there are often dozens of concepts that didn't make it. At some point, many of those concepts were rendered—taken out of the designer's imagination and put into tangible form so they could be evaluated by a brand manager, or a marketer, or a consumer focus group. Those folks then decide which concept is likely to sell more of the product inside. That's the magic part of packaging.
What isn't magic is how the designer helps others visualize his or her ideas. Depending on the type of packaging, it's often an extremely time-consuming process requiring a great deal of craft. That's where the value-add proposition comes in. Designers will go to extreme lengths, and marketers will pay top dollar, for new packaging mockups that look like the real thing.