Like many consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies selling online as well as in stores, the Coca-Cola Company employs prototyping tools to assist with design and marketing strategies. The beverage firm’s fledgling eCommerce team, formed in 2013, has “used prototyping to create images for our products that are sold online,” reports Jennifer Brevick, eCommerce director. Of course, marketing packaged goods online is a different animal than on shelf.
“eCommerce does not have the touch and feel or the context of brick and mortar (B&M),” Brevick adds. “By touch and feel, I mean that the shopper cannot pick up the product, turn it around and see the messaging on the package or the nutritional panel as easily.
“By context, I am referring to the search-driven nature of eCom,” she continues. “In a B&M store, you walk down an aisle of beverages and you see the one you want amid other competitive products and messaging from brands and retailers. In eCom, you can go to a product detail page directly from search and mix all of that contextual information.”
Coca-Cola partners with visual communications firm Coloredge on putting the brand’s best foot forward in its online retailing efforts. Mike Spielman, vice president of national accounts, details a process often used to market consumer packaged goods online. With Coloredge’s in-house 360 photography, “we can take a comp (comprehensive layout) sample and do a 360-degree capture. Using CGI (computer-generated imagery) graphics, we also can virtually capture, say, the wire frame of a package: Ink never touches paper or film.”
Coke’s Brevick reports also working with major online retailers, such as Amazon.com, to improve package designs and branding/marketing campaigns. “We work very closely with Amazon to optimize our online offering in package design, imagery and marketing,” she says. “We have tried to leverage both their learnings and ours to give an appropriate and very shoppable offering to our consumers.”
STREAMLINING A PATH TO MARKET
For a recent launch, General Mills used Haney’s Applied Imagination process, which uses ideation sessions for real-time exploration and evaluation of designs that can be manufactured for a streamlined path to market that’s based on all disciplines working collaboratively toward the feasible. These ideation sessions are held at Haney’s Packaging Resource Center.
At its ideation session for Pillsbury Pancake Batter Mix, General Mills’ internal Brand Expansion team experienced firsthand a range of options for bottle shapes; explored and developed ideas for package design; investigated different materials, colors and inks; and learned about the range of technologies that could be used. During the full-day creative working session, the teams also shared project background, consumer target information and previous consumer research before generating package ideas.
Within five months of that ideation session, General Mills had 1,000 bottles of its Pillsbury Pancake Batter Mix on shelf in a limited test market at six HyVee stores throughout Omaha, NE. “The fact that a typical path to market for a new product takes 12 to 18 months and we were on-shelf in five months is remarkable,” says Jeremy Johnson, technical project lead at General Mills. “It showed us what can be done when all of the disciplines involved are working together, side by side, from start to finish.”