Converters of paperboard packaging might be feeling the squeeze right about now. With RFPs, reduced volumes, and shrinking margins, our industry might seem like a commodity business and a race to the bottom. Yet there are techniques we can use to add value to our packaging and break free from the commodity game. PPC’s recent Spring Meeting in Baltimore showed attendees how to do just that.
An innovation consultant and former Procter & Gamble executive, keynote speaker Mike Ferrari (pictured) taught us a few things about value-added packaging. He shared seven “secrets to packaging success” that can help converters reverse the cycle of commoditization and curb margin erosion. Some of these included crucial practices around inventory management, speed to market, customization, and e-commerce.
Mike emphasized that innovation doesn’t have to come from traditional converting processes like printing or cutting. For example, he came up on stage a Bluetooth-enabled liquor carton that played music—just like a pair of portable speakers. By being creative and adding value in a variety of ways, folding carton and rigid box manufacturers can sidestep the commodity business and secure their status as valuable partners to brands.
Later on, executive coach and consultant David Friedman offered a different yet equally compelling way to exit the commodity world. According to David, one of the last remaining opportunities to create a sustainable competitive advantage is company culture. After all, competitors can’t copy your company’s people! During a three-hour workshop, he taught attendees how to intentionally build high-performing organizational cultures. His simple yet effective process included defining culture in terms of certain behaviors and creating rituals to help employees embody and sustain values.
There’s good reason why you should heed Ferrari and Friedman’s advice. And that came straight from another Spring Meeting speaker, economist Alan Beaulieu. While times are good now, Alan revealed that the U.S. economy will dip into a mild recession in the middle of 2019. Now, he urged, is the time to strategize ways for increasing market share in a slow-growth environment. Competitive advantages will be an absolute must during this period.
Members can review the speakers’ presentations here. Implement their strategies so you can avoid the commodity business and increase your profits. If you’re eager to learn even more ways to better your business, register for our next meeting this fall in Atlanta!