Kraft: Packaging should ‘stop consumers in their tracks’

Kraft Foods takes a holistic, consumer-focused team approach to packaging design and creation. Photo: Landor

A Kraft Foods design expert is advising CPG professionals to remember that when it comes to influencing consumers to buy products, packaging leads the way.

Peter Borowski, head of design for Kraft Foods, led a panel discussion at The Packaging Conference on integrating 2D and 3D thinking into the product and packaging design process. In other words, fostering communication between label and graphics staff, people responsible for packaging shape and structure, marketing types and others is crucial to brand success.

A full 72% of purchasing decisions are made right in the store,” he said. “Advertising increases awareness, but it doesn’t make consumers buy. The drive to purchase happens in the store, which is why packaging is so important.”

The outward appearance—color, shape, structure and other components—of a package does the heavy lifting in drawing customers to a product, Borowski added.

It’s crucial in getting consumers’ attention,” he said. “You have to stop consumers in their tracks. At Kraft, we focus on that strong stopping power.”

Importance of teamwork

Panelist Ian Carnduff, senior vice president of creative outfit NiCE, said it benefits everyone on a brand team, from the product creation process, to processing, to packaging engineers and beyond, to work together as one, rather than behaving as isolated entities.

We don’t see those as separate things at all—they’re all part of the brand building and storytelling toolbox,” Carnduff said. “To treat them separately would be a disaster. Things can get very siloed and chopped up, and it leads to fragmentation.”

Customer focus

David Bell, associate client director for Landor, has advised CPG clients like Kraft Foods on various branding and packaging products. He said no matter what type of product a company is looking to package, discussion should start and focus on the consumer.

If you have insight into consumer need, that’s going to inform the process,” he said. “You have a product and it has a benefit and a story to tell; you need to make sure it’s told cohesively.”

Bell added if packaging product teams have done a good job, that package will speak to shoppers.

You want consumers to see the package at the first moment of truth, realize that it’s something they should have in their home,” Bell said.

Common goal

Panel member Craig Sawicki, executive vice president and chief creative officer for packaging provider TricorBraun, said different members of a team have different goals (purchasing staff aims for low prices, plant workers are honed in on speed and efficiency, etc.). Bringing those different sets of people together can ensure everyone has their eyes on the same target: brand success.

We’re not on different paths; we’re all headed in the same direction,” he said.


Panelists agreed it can be beneficial having one person leading the discussion and making the top-level decisions in the process. As Carnduff said, having a decentralized decision-making process can complicate and confuse things.

If you get too many people sticking their finger into an apple pie, eventually the pie is just going to taste like fingers,” he joked.

Bell added having one strong leader can help in making difficult decisions done, and ensure a project stays on course—even if it involves, for example, making a change for the benefit of the brand, at the risk of missing a deadline, to ensure the final product is top notch.

People won’t remember if you get it late,” he said. “They will remember if you get it wrong.”

The Packaging Conference is an annual, three-day event focused on packaging for food, beverage and other industries. Sponsored by Plastic Technologies Inc. and SBA-CCI, the event is tackling a range of concerns, including sustainability, metal packaging advances, shelf-life improvement and more.

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Comments (1)

Brian Wagner - 13 Feb 2014 | 11:53

Graphic and design strategy

Key to the discussion was importance of package design as look&feel, form&function and emotional connection to the brand. Our benchmarking work concludes that most companies still see "design" as a service function...Leading companies are developing graphic and design strategies, holistic practices - creative and pragmatic - through successful commercialization. Few really do this well.

13-Feb-2014 at 23:53 GMT

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