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By Mr CM Yeung/Managing Director,The Hip Lik Group 
Eyewitness report from a local supermarket while I was buying some holiday taste treats for the family table:  An area adjacent to the store's check-out counter was detailed for holiday duty as a display area to promote a few items on sale as last-minute presents.    

I nearly did a doubletake upon catching sight of a 12-inch doll in a package. For openers, the tan paper carton with a plastic window lacked character, with black lettering. Little thought seemed to be given to branding. Even worse, the carton was scratched and scraped badly over its surface. Lacking a clear view, any normally intelligent shopper had to be concerned whether the doll had been damaged. Obviously, this carton, and perhaps others in the same consignment of dolls, failed somewhere in distribution. That's hardly conducive for inspiring impulse purchases.    

Shines in every setting  

This holiday anecdote is a reminder of the need not only for packaging that travels well but also that an individual package can serve promotional display duty at the retailer's discretion. The packaging should be designed for any possibility. One option is clear plastic packaging. Its versatility can meet a variety of challenges in every setting through the ideal marriage of materials, modern production and printing techniques along with sustainability.  

But what are more specific reasons to recommend clear plastic box packaging?  It is rigid enough to provide high impact resistance to adequately protect the product and lightweight to save on transport. Today’s plastic boxes using PET and PP produced with energy-saving state-of-the-art equipment meet recycling concerns. Our doll could have enjoyed a comfortable and “green” journey secured within the friendly confines of a clear plastic box.  

But the journey is just the means to the end – a sale to a satisfied customer. Perhaps the biggest question is how can packaging help the retailer achieve the end? One thing to commend clear plastic packaging is the opportunity to showcase the charms of our little lady. Key here is using high quality resins with resistance to scratches and static to avoid dust buildup as well as a low incidence of water flow marks. All of these flaws can deface the surface, denying a would-be customer a clear appreciation of product quality. Safely nestled in a clear plastic box, our doll’s beauty might have been more evident in the eyes of beholders – potential customers in the department store.     

Engaging the customer emotionally     

To close the sale, how can the high emotional component of impulse purchases be addressed?  Designing a package to meet branding requirements is a good start. Consider plastic’s inherent flexibility to create just the right package at one of the most important brand touch points, spanning multiple tiers in all sizes. Standard clear plastic box, tube or drum packaging can house a wide range of products. For example, an easy-crease effect in a firm and elegant PET box lets our doll stand tall and proud.  

And what about satisfying the necessity of retailers to create a more enjoyable shopping experience? Form, function and fun are the key watchwords. Again, plastic’s flexibility presents an attractive proposition. Plastic boxes can be custom-moulded beyond the packaging function to serve in a variety of retail and POP displays as well as to convey fun. And branding can be enhanced by visually appealing decoration through silk screen, litho-, flexo- and gravure printing as well as foil blocking and embossing.      

Even in these economically challenging times, green purchases are gaining in importance. How can plastics meet this demand? For starters, biodegradable APET, RPET and PP are earning the “green” credentials. Recycled PET costs the same as virgin amorphous PET, and its performance characteristics are identical.  

In fact, plastic packaging products are much easier, cleaner, and cheaper to recycle than paper. And the latest manufacturing equipment optimised for PET resin to produce plastic packaging from the US or Europe requires less energy than paper board production.     

The lesson to be learned from our doll’s experience is that each package should be ready for active duty on the front line – the store shelf – to market the brand with a positive image while accenting product quality. Like a good soldier, the package needs to endure potential hardships encountered enroute. Once ready for action, clear plastic packaging can help successfully engage the customer, whether in the realms of implementing “green” purchasing practices and inspiring consumer confidence, all while achieving merchandising and branding objectives.  

The Difference Is Clear
You  Can Judge  a  Product  by  Its  Package

By Mr CM 
Yeung/Managing Director, The Hip Lik Group

That old saying “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” warns that an attractive façade may entice an unsuspecting reader into the purchase of a boring book. But you may not realize that when it comes to product marketing, consumers, retailers and manufacturers increasingly believe that you can – and consumers actually do – judge a product by its ‘cover’, in this case, its external packaging. I’d like to share with you why clear plastic packaging offers the most lucid argument that this all-important consumer verdict will be in your product’s favour.  

At the outset, everyone selling in the consumer channels should understand the challenges of today’s economy. A recent Unilever Trip Management Report states that “an overwhelming… 79 percent worry about rising personal-care product prices. If you are a retailer or producer of accessory items and discretionary purchases you may likely feel consumer anxiety even more.

To Buy or Not to Buy  

The more glamourous facets of branding such as advertisements and billboards have likely been the previous focus of your marketing efforts. But during a recent visit to Olympia Beauty, I noticed an unprecedented emphasis by retailers and producers on packaging strategies to match the singular challenge that they now face. Why is this so?  

Plain and simple, more and more marketers are realising that the package is a dominant influence in shaping the consumer’s moment of truth – when he or she makes that all-important judgment: to buy or not to buy, as Shakespeare might have put it if he were a marketer. Attractive as well as functional packaging creates the initial and the lasting connection between the product and the consumer. What I thought was interesting was the proportion of cosmetics that were housed within attractive clear plastic packages.  

For starters, the flexibility of clear plastic packaging enhanced by soft creasing for a longer as well as stronger crease enables attractive designs that can catch the consumer’s attention on the shelf. A good example is cosmetics targeted at a more sophisticated and contemporary female market segment. I noticed a number of clear packages fashioned in bolder non-traditional geometries as well as the more traditional quadrangular forms.  

Good Things Come in Clear Packages  

Now let’s look more closely. Beneath the attractive cover, plastic’s transparency renders convenient a closer inspection of the product, both inspiring consumer confidence and providing the marketer the means to showcase cosmetics to discriminating consumers. Renowned brands and lesser-known names were using grade A PET packaging. On the surface, of it, PET’s strength including higher barrier characteristics, as well as scratch- and watermark-resistant properties reinforce the notion of quality. In reality, clear plastic packaging lets the appeal of elegant cosmetic containers and the attraction of beauty products shine through.  

And for branding strategy, the design flexibility and decoration possibilities of clear plastic packaging can create a striking visual identity for a well-established or new brand. This was brought home by a variety of printing options such as vivid offset, colour and silk screen printing portraying a plethora of symbols of femininity. On some of the products, a graphic recalled a TV advertisement or a celebrity endorsement.  

For some of the newer names, a tastefully printed, embossed logo or hot stamped logo delivered a stronger brand identification. Certainly a number of attendees stopped to take a closer look. Furthermore, the ability of plastic to retain this identification across a family range of different package sizes was taken advantage of by a number of brands, even for same-brand packages containing different cosmetics. The cosmetic products themselves for new and old brands alike were framed by key messages and as well as brand promise and character traits crisply printed directly on the plastic package.  

While many of the packages succeeded in radiating an aura of elegance, the surprising thing was that in many instances the actual cost belies the svelte forms. One reason is that clear plastic packages can then be delivered flat for assembly to save transportation charges. And an auto-lock bottom carton automatically unfolding itself and locking the carton in a ready-to-pack condition by applying pressure to opposite folded edges saves labour in assembly and packing.

For personalized products, packaging has become an increasingly important element in an emotional yet thoughtful consumer purchase decision. Clear plastic packaging may offer the clearest evidence to entice consumers to make the judgment in your favour.


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