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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Green Manufacturing > Product Development > Manufacturing Packaging & Packing Solutions for Savings

Recession Proof Your Packaging

Packaging is the silent salesman during recessionary times

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packaging for green manufacturing and green marketing Packaging is often referred to as the silent salesman. And during recessionary times, silence speaks volumes! A recession is a time to shepherd a company's packaging as a powerful marketing tool. The contributions of packaging are its functions:
  • Protection
  • Communication,
  • And convenience or utility

Recessionary Opportunities for Value

It's hard to think about recessionary times having value -- but just as a tree that is pruned comes back stronger, so, too, can a company's strength. It's in how you look at the challenge.

How can you do as much or more...with less? How can you partner during lulls in business? How can you meet changes in the marketplace creatively and head-on?

One possible opportunity presented by recessionary times is the willingness of suppliers involved in a previously vetted project to make price concessions. Even a small concession can keep a project on track -- if it was originally attractive enough to pass approval without the price concessions. Quality of the project matters!

Another possible win-win scenario with suppliers is getting a more favorable calendar for delivery of the packaging project.

It's smart to treat your suppliers with respect during these tenuous times -- this is the time when lifelong friends -- or enemies -- are created!

Demonstrate and seek value, but not penny-pinching.

Demonstrating Value

Consumers shift shopping behaviors when gas prices rise and wages stagnate.
  • Larger, economy-size packages translate into fewer trips.
  • Concentrated formulas in smaller packages also require fewer shopping trips.
  • Promotional packages such as "greater quantity/same price" and pack-ons, are well-suited for recessionary appeal.

The Middle Child Syndrome

A recession shifts consumer behavior into "comfort zones." The economic tension steers some consumers to the high end of some product categories as a substitute for pricier indulgences forsaken in other areas, for example.

Some consumers hit by the recession, or just more concerned because they have less disposable income, will switch to the low end.

Either scenario is likely to be at the expense of the middle ground.

High- and low-end products occupy those niches as the result of consistently targeted marketing, while the middle is the province of "me-too" entries that are undifferentiated by product features (or packaging).

Advertising and Packaging Coordination

Most consumer packaged goods are not supported by media advertising. The majority of products rely on packaging to serve the advertising function in-store.


A television commercial should show the package at junctures, and for durations, that are purposeful; after all, one objective of the commercial is to give the viewer the knowledge of what to look for on the shelves.


A radio ad should sign off with, "Look for (brand) _____ in the ____ package in stores nationwide," or something to that effect.


Visual ads feature a package mock-up with brand name and product category prominently featured with small type and images removed for clarity. The same simplified, visual rule applies for Internet ads.


Know your metrics. Know your demographics. Watch their behavior changes. Your product might be a counter-cyclical one -- like bird feeders and birdseed that people buy more of during cold weather and cocooning times (like recessions). Or it might be a quality treat like hot chocolate with a cherry on top that coffee drinkers will move up to when they get tired of paying for lattes at twice the price.

Every product segment has winners and losers during good times and bad times. Now is the time to think like your customers and prospects to match their needs with your capabilities.

But of course, launching new products during these times is usually not the best idea...! But if you have an easy way to add extra value for your loyal customers -- that product launch done by word of mouth just might put you a mile ahead of the other players in the field!

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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