By Lisa Umar
“Packaging is advertising, often, the only advertising”, says Joe Dollens, founder of Global Intelligence Organization, a consumer packaging intelligence company. On Friday, March 22nd, students in Professor Ettenson’s Brand Management class and other interested T-birds had the opportunity to attend a workshop on consumer packaging. Led by Joe Dollens, President of GIO, the workshop explored the importance of packaging and the science behind the physical appearance of products that we see every day.
A good friend of Professor Ettenson’s, Joe Dollens founded GIO in 1985 and now works with companies such as Colgate-Palmolive in more than 20 countries. His company consults not only on packaging, but on other aspects of product marketing such as shelf placement and in-store positioning. With the market for many products becoming saturated, learning how to differentiate through packaging is becoming increasingly important. While many consumers may be unaware of the effects packaging has upon their purchasing habits, companies are hiring experts such as Mr. Dollens to subtly influence customers towards their products.
The session covered various aspects of packaging, including silhouettes, ergonomic fit, color, graphics, and material. Students were asked to bring a consumer good they had purchased based on packaging, and share their item with the class. The items brought ranged from instant coffee to shampoo, but all had unique features that caught the student’s eye and resulted in a purchase.
After explaining the science behind package design, students were asked to split into groups and choose from a number of products Mr. Dollens had brought with him. The groups then spent time discussing improvements that could be made on their product’s packing, be it shape, graphics, or functionality. Each group then presented their ideas to the class, on everything from Lunchables to Folger’s to dishwashing detergent. This ideation session cemented what had been learned, and allowed students to apply this knowledge to analyzing consumer products in new ways. Mr. Dollens advised us to be observant and buy liberally when we shop! Overall, students left the session with new tools to analyze consumer products and an increased awareness over ways in which companies are able to influence consumer purchases.