Industry Info

Front Panel August 2015

Posted: August 17, 2015

Victor Ermoli, dean of the school of design at the Savannah College of Art and Design, speaks to Package Design about how to create environments and encourage lifestyles that

keep teams innovative and productive.

How do you make space for creative rhythm in a high cadence business environment?

Ermoli: One aspect of the creative rhythm is the leadership, and the other aspect is environment.

I’ll start with environment because it’s tied to the leadership. For creatives, it’s important to have an environment where they can sit down, look at a white wall and try to solve the problem.

If you go to the new IBM center, the design center in Austin, you will see a huge area that houses hundreds and hundreds of designers. Here, they not only brainstorm, but they also have a space for quiet, higher thinking. This area has Herman Miller chairs and big ottomans where you can raise your feet. Written on the wall are messages that encourage higher thinking.

When leadership creates a dynamic environment like this, they will not only motivate people and help them feel excited about their work but also encourage them to be truly productive.

Now, this is all simple to say, but the reality is, if I’m a business leader working in an open creative environment and I see this guy staring out a window, I can’t help but wonder what is he doing? Then, I come back an hour later and he is still sitting on the chair, this time with his feet raised, looking at the window. The natural thing for most bosses is to ask, “What are you doing?” The employee can explain that he is working on solving a big problem, and the manager, supervisor, director, etc. might leave and let him continue to think. But if the business leader comes back an hour later and this guy is either continuing looking out the window or just scribbling on a piece of paper, it becomes very hard for the leader to not say, “Okay, it has been two hours. You haven’t produced anything. You haven’t done anything. Get busy.”

We expect to see productive people on the computer, answering emails, working on a diagram or analyzing numbers within a spreadsheet. But on the other hand, this person could be working on big challenges that will move the business more than answering emails would. They could be asking themselves, how can I increase the sales next month by overcoming this problem that we’re having? He needs time to reflect—time to really think on the big picture. That’s rarely recognized. But the ability to encourage, manage and teach people how to reflect is a process that a business leader can learn.




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Are Shoppers Leaving National Brands Behind?

New research finds that national food, beverage and household brands continue to lose their place in Americans’ shopping carts. According to Deloitte’s annual “American Pantry Study” of more than 354 brands across 34 product categories, nearly three out of four (73%) of consumer packaged goods (CPG) categories studied show an overall decline in their status as “must have” brands.

While previous years of economic stagnation fueled consumers’ interest in store brands, there are early signs that trend may be reversing, marking a critical moment for CPG companies. The number of consumers who view store brands as a sacrifice (43%) jumped 10 percentage points, while fewer consumers (65%) indicate they are more open to trying store branded products, an eight percentage point decline.

And more than half (55%) of consumers turn to digital tools to research products, up from 45% last year, and ahead of the number who do so to compare prices (48%), which remained flat compared to last year. Additionally, four out of 10 (37%) use devices to make shopping lists or meal plans.

Price is just one tool for CPG companies looking to win at the shelf: When asked what triggers an impulse buy, 89% of shoppers cite discounted prices, but many also indicate that they bought an item because they remembered it when they spotted it in the store (81%), and 63% say they did so because they wanted to try a new product.

Nearly nine out of 10 consumers (86%) prefer convenient options that are also healthy and 25% are willing to pay a 10% or more premium for healthier versions of a product.