Designing the Perfect Package Better, Faster and Smarter than your Competition

As anyone involved in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry already knows, the role of packaging in driving sales cannot be understated. Viewing products on a store shelf is still the leading way for consumers to be aware of what products are available. Eighty-five percent of shopping decisions are made in-store—and most shoppers make their purchasing decisions within 5-8 seconds of seeing the product on the shelf. The package design, color and artwork chosen serve to stop, hold and close the shopper to select the product that is right for them. 
With the decline in the effectiveness of mass media advertisements, pressure has increased on CPG companies to capture consumers’ attention in the store and transform that into a sale. Well-designed packaging can be the difference between retaining or gaining market share against the competition or the need to go back to the drawing board for costly rework. These companies are held back, however, by disparate innovation processes and systems. They cannot move fast enough to anticipate and deliver new products that meet the ever-changing needs of the consumer.
Discovering the Perfect Design
With the increased importance of packaging in the overall success of a product, companies across the globe are pouring additional resources into understanding their consumer base and what exactly they want in a product. 
CPG companies, their packaging suppliers and the retailers that distribute these products need to start their processes by understanding the total consumer experience. What features and functions are most important to my consumers? How can I make my product stand out from the rest? What colors catch the eye? What is the optimal shelf placement? This is about defining the key elements of what is required to maximize the ability to stop, hold and close the consumer.
Answering these questions with facts and insights will help improve our success in breaking through the clutter on shelf and deliver a more pleasant overall product experience.
Making Design Count
That said, it’s not just as simple as increasing and improving design resources. Once the essential elements of success are identified, CPG companies need tools and technologies that allow them to rapidly visualize their ideas and collaborate with their design agencies to create winning designs. 3D technologies are perfect for just this sort of virtual mock-up, conceptual review and editing process. These tools and technologies allow new ideas to be reviewed and implemented (or changed) very quickly, accelerating speed to market.
However, it doesn’t stop at the concept. Packaging design itself is full of contradictions. The package must be tamper-proof, yet easy to open. It must be attractive, yet strong enough to handle transportation and storing. Packaging must be designed with sustainability in mind, yet secure enough to protect the product inside. And packaging must meet many regulatory requirements, yet still draw a consumer’s attention at shelf. So how can we tackle all of these challenges with multiple contributors, many of which are in different locations both in and outside your company?
To make the design process truly efficient, designers need to be aware of existing resources. The technology and tools used need to give designers quick and easy access to previous designs, assets and resources, so that designers can reuse colors, artwork and styling where appropriate, cutting down on the time it takes to get new packaging approved and out to market.
Artwork and label design is a highly fragmented process with many contributors both inside and outside a CPG or retail company. The stakes here are high, as 50% of all recalls are due to labeling errors. These designs must meet regulatory restrictions and brand equity requirements (brand-approved colors, styles and logos) while still catching the consumer’s attention in a cluttered environment. Breaks in this process can lead to significant implications in rework—or even worse, necessitate a recall, impacting time to market and profitability.
We can accelerate the development process by bringing all the contributors together to design and review the optimal package concurrently. To ensure success at the shelf, product and packaging changes have to be seen by all and reacted to in real-time. There needs to be one version of the design that everyone can collaborate on, rather than several different ones that cause version control difficulty, resulting in significant implications for marketing.
Qualifying and Testing
In the past, package design has been a siloed process, held completely separately from manufacturing and production. This inflates time-to-market, causes several rework loops—and ultimately compromises the packaging design to meet brand, regulatory and cost needs in the time allotted. By including manufacturing engineers in the development process early-on, you can gain valuable insights into what could work and not work for a design, helping to prevent costly rework loops later in the process. By utilizing social media tools to collaborate, the walls between these groups can come down.
Before creating the production molds, new designs need to be tested to ensure they meet all of the essential technical requirements such as drop testing, squeezabilty and top-load by using common material properties and geometry models. Failure on any one of these can jeopardize a product launch or even cause a recall when the issue is discovered in market, dramatically hurting sales in either case.
Simulation technology will enable organizations to test and re-test products as many times as desired to perfect their packaging virtually. By simulating the packaging characteristics and testing in a lifelike virtual environment, companies can, for example, drop a detergent bottle 100 times in a row to see where any stress points or breaks may be, enabling them to modify the design before spending to produce anything in the physical world. This dramatically cuts costs by ensuring package performance before investing in molds.
In addition, simulating and testing products and packaging in a virtual world allows organizations to conduct lightweighting and other analyses to ensure sustainability. By simulating how different types of packaging or different packaging materials react, companies can more easily select the materials they need to be more sustainable than ever before.

Ensuring Production and Manufacturing Success
CPG, packaging suppliers and retail companies also need to ensure that their designed and tested packaging can actually be made, filled and shipped. Some of the best packaging ideas never made it to the shelf because their company’s facilities were not set up to handle the production. It most often proves to be too costly for companies to rework or reconfigure their production lines (or those of their partners) to handle different styles of packaging. In the past, this resulted in costly packaging reworks, compromising the design to fit the machinery already in place. In many cases it even resulted in the loss of the initial design intent, meaning that by only factoring in production at the end of the cycle, you chance having to change the design, diminishing the effectiveness of the packaging change. If you are not collaborating and taking into account this stage of the product development process, then you risk this type of costly problem.
Production line mechanics need to be analyzed as a part of the design and development process. With the use of 3D design, development and collaboration tools, companies can simulate the production line from start to finish. These simulations can be automatically revised and updated every time there is a tweak or change made to the packaging, to ensure all information remains correct. By reviewing and testing early on, any errors can be caught, often long before any physical packaging is produced. The final specifications of the packaging and artwork can be easily captured and connected with any company’s ERP system.
Selling the Product
Once you’ve completed designing the perfect package, the next step is to sell it to consumers. Consumer packaged goods and retail companies can use today’s technology to build virtual store environments where real human interactions with store shelves and the products themselves can be modeled and tested. These tools help companies understand exactly how packaging changes impact the shopping experience—and allow them to make needed adjustments in real-time to the packaging or the store layout.
We’ve already seen another way that 3D technology is changing the way that products are sold: augmented reality. With 3D-powered augmented reality tied to packaging, consumers are incented to purchase products that offer additional functionality, such as games tied to the packaging that can be used by their children at home. In the future, this same technology will enable in-store use of augmented reality to virtually try on clothing or see how a new hair color looks.
Measuring Success
Finally, the last step of the process is to measure the impact of the packaging changes at shelf by gathering information from both external and internal data sources, such as social media sites. Companies should track trends and competitive reactions, which will help them to fully understand the shopping experience, whether it improved and whether overall sales increased—which is of course, the ultimate measurement.
Ensuring you have the perfect package for your product requires a comprehensive, collaborative effort between all of the contributors involved in its design. Packaging design is a very social activity with many contributors in between idea and final package. This integrated process allows for teams to collaborate together to create breakthrough designs and enables rapid iterations from initial discovery to design to simulation to production to shipping and to shelf. This significantly shortens package design cycles, lowers the possibility for production issues, eliminates the chance for recalls and lowers the overall total cost of delivery. Design the perfect package every time with Dassault Systmes 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
About the Author
Rosemary Grabowski is Global Marketing Director for CPG-Retail at Dassault Systemes. Rose is responsible for all marketing programs worldwide for CPG-Retail that promote the business value provided by Dassault Systemes, the 3DExperience Company, to CPG-Retail companies every day. Rose comes with 20+ years of cross-functional leadership experience with a fortune 500 Consumer Packaged Goods company and has been with Dassualt Systemes for 4 years. Her experience spans the areas of Strategy, Marketing, Sales and Operations. 

Dassault Systmes, the 3DEXPERIENCE Company, provides business and people with virtual universes to imagine sustainable innovations. Its world-leading solutions transform the way products are designed, produced, and supported. Dassault Systmes’ collaborative solutions foster social innovation, expanding possibilities for the virtual world to improve the real world. The group brings value to over 150,000 customers of all sizes, in all industries, in more than 80 countries. For more information, visit
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