It’s Christmas, snow is falling outside, hot cocoa is steaming, and the kids are bubbling with excitement. Johnny pulls the wrapping off a box and is greeted by the Millennium Falcon racing across the stars. His grin explodes. Carefully, he undoes the box and inside, he finds an IOU!
Out of this universe experience? Back in 1977, toy company Kenner was so overwhelmed by the demand for Star Wars toys that they had to send out empty boxes with IOUs.
Kids strong with the Force ended up gifted with lumps of coal. Yoda wasn’t happy.
It’s hard to overestimate how much Star Wars has changed film, toys, and yes, the packaging industry. By examining how Star Wars made a huge impact, we can learn valuable lessons for packaging.
Star Wars is now one of the most valuable franchises in the world and netted George Lucas 4.5 billion dollars when he sold to Disney. Yet back in the 1970s, most industry experts figured Star Wars movies and toys would flop.
While negotiating with 20th Century Fox to produce Star Wars: A New Hope, George Lucas reportedly made Fox a deal they couldn’t refuse: he was willing to cut his director’s fee by $500,000 in exchange for retaining merchandising rights.
For Fox executives already looking at an expensive, technically complicated production, the deal must have seemed like a no-brainer. Movie merchandise at the time was an after thought.
Lucas turned around and sold the merchandising rights to the toy company Kenner, then a division of General Mills. While Kenner paid $100,000 for the exclusive rights to produce Star Wars toys, film merchandising was seen as a small seasonal affair.
Toys would move while the film was still in the theater, but once the theater run was done, Kenner expected demand to drop off. Instead, as Star Wars blasted off the charts, demand for toys surged well beyond Kenner’s capabilities.
This would have a profound impact on the toy and packaging industries. As Neil Archer, a lecturer at Keele University notes in his blog post:
“Since 1977, the StarWars films have been the benchmark – if not the catalyst – for modern Hollywood’s “synergy-driven strategies” – linking big-screen outings with“ancillary products” in the form of action figures and other commercial tie-ins.”
How The Film Business Has Changed The Packaging Industry
Once an after thought, merchandising is now a vital source of profits and revenues for film companies. Indeed, some movies are essentially gigantic ads for toys.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is perhaps the best-positioned franchise to challenge Star Wars’ merchandising throne. Yet MCU is, in many ways, Star Wars’ padawan (trainee Jedi). When Marvel Studios embarked on its adventure to bring the MCU to life, they decided to seek out some sage advice… from children.
Marvel Studios wanted to know which characters were most likely to move toys, so they brought kids in, showed them drawings of Marvel heroes, and asked which character they’d be most likely to play with at home? The answer? Iron Man. The first MCU movie ever made? Iron Man.
“It is truly fascinating that one of the key decisions in the genesis of a multi-billion dollar franchise was made in part based on a bunch of kids in a room picking out what hero they want to play with.”
Fascinating indeed. Now, movie franchises are pillars of modern culture. And big franchises allow brands to cut across demographics. For packaging experts, this presents an opportunity.
By tying up the right products with the right fictional worlds, packaging experts can appeal to abroad audience.
As Ted Mininni argues in his packaging post:
“There are a few behemoths that own huge mind-share with many consumer groups across social strata and around the globe. Among entertainment properties, Star Wars and the pantheons of Disney princesses and Marvel superheroes are great examples of this.”
Disney owns both Marvel and Star Wars, and these fictional worlds are deeply integrated into the company’s brand. Mininni’s packaging blog post put it this way:
“The brand seamlessly leverages the “magic” of its significant entertainment properties within its theme parks, movies, television, digital media, and its retail stores with visually compelling content and rich experiences that captivate kids and adults alike.”
These worlds are so rich, so engaging, that external brands can leverage them to tell their own brand story. However, you can’t simply slap a superhero or Jedi on your products and hope it sells. Storytelling goes much deeper than that.
Packaging Is Storytelling
Star Wars yogurts, mac and cheese, juices, and other themed foods have all graced tables at some point. You can find Star Wars themed camping equipment, suitcases, toothbrushes, and more. Before Star Wars, such direct tie-ins were not a thing.Now, when a blockbuster movie rolls around, companies will fight over merchandising rights.
“Brands need to know the fan base well to avoid insulting devotees by slapping licensing on simply anything. They also need to be able to share the story through great design when there is a good fit.”
In other words, there needs to be synergy between the packaging and the story itself. For the packaging industry, movies and fiction offer an opportunity to turn regular products into story-telling devices that can unlock your imagination.
“Stories are not just a buzz concept: They are one of the most strategic success drivers behind some of the most legendary brands.”
Meanwhile, packaging offers the perfect stage for stories and brands alike. At first glance, StarWars themed Mac & Cheese or Iced Tea might not seem like a natural tie in, and yet it works. Kids are a vital element of Star Wars universal target audience, kids love Mac & Cheese.
For a child with her parents in the grocery store, Mac & Cheese wrapped in Star Wars packaging is immediately recognizable and sparks the imagination. Rather than boring cheese noodles, kids can hang out with Darth Vader or Yoda during their lunchtime snack.
The synergy between mac and cheese and Yoda is obvious. Food is fun, so too are great stories. Kids love using their imagination, so why not turn lunch into an adventure? Take the right branded packaging and the right story, and you’ve crafted a heck of an experience.
What does this have to do with executive recruiting? EVERYTHING! Your packaging tells a story. That story might not be Star Wars but no matter, you need to be a good storyteller. And we get that when we’re looking for marketing professionals for your brand.
In October of 2019, Chase & Associates’ long-time business consultant, Bobby Ford, sat down with Alexis Chase to talk about life, business, and women in packaging. The result was a deep dive conversation filled with authoritative insights and wisdom.
BOBBY: When did you decide to jump into the family business? What were the moments that drove that decision?
ALEXIS: I graduated from Barnard College, Columbia University, in New York City in June of 2001. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I moved back to California. As an Art History major, I was interested in gallery or museum work.
I spent the summer working, and lo and behold, 9/11 struck. I think after 9/11, companies and the economy, in general, just went into a state of shock and were not necessarily hiring college grads.
I had always done summer work for my father’s company, whether it was bookkeeping or filing, office type of work. At the time, he needed some extra support answering phones, so I started working for him a couple of times a week, which led to me getting more responsibility.
As I started to have conversations with real people about their lives and their careers, executive recruiting became more interesting to me as a career path. I remember having a conversation with Michael (brother) about it, and basically, we simultaneously got into recruiting together.
BOBBY: And how long ago was that?
ALEXIS: 2001. I was doing online research, cold calling to get names of candidates to different places, which eventually meant taking over a desk as a Project Manager.
BOBBY: Tell me about the dynamic back then. You start out as a project manager. Michael is a recruiter. Are either of you thinking in terms of ownership at this point or are you just trying to learn the industry and your job?
ALEXIS: No, I was far from that. And Michael was not working in California. Neil, our father, had just had a liver transplant in 2000 in Florida and was not as active in the business for a good five years or so.
BOBBY: I’ve known you and Michael for more than a few years, and I had no idea that you got a degree in Art History! And I had no idea that 9/11 and your father’s liver transplant informed your decision to jump into recruiting. I’ve learned a lot in seven minutes flat!
And so, you spent, if I remember correctly, you spent five years in research and as a project manager?
ALEXIS: Yes, that’s about right. I had a lot of fears around getting on the phone and interviewing people. I was still learning the industry and the vernacular. It was tricky, but then, over time, I built my confidence and could have conversations with people that were very different from me.
I didn’t have kids at the time. I wasn’t into sports. I didn’t play golf or watch football. I had to really figure out ways to draw some connections to them. I was like, “What do I talk to these people about?” So I had to find my way into that.
And this is long before LinkedIn was created. I was doing a lot of cold calling. It was the old-fashioned way (now) of doing it, but that’s what I would spend my days doing.
I was finding people that were getting placed, the reward of that success, how that makes you feel when you do something well, it remains very rewarding.
BOBBY: Did that surprise you? I mean, you were an Art History grad!
ALEXIS: It did because I never grew up having an interest in my father’s business.
BOBBY: It’s very interesting to me that you went from New York City art to recruiting and packaging. That’s like Banksy joining an accounting firm!
How would you say that that time as a project manager prepared you to be a more effective recruiter?
ALEXIS: I was exploring going to graduate school and thinking about either going to a bigger recruiting firm or trying something different, so I put an exit strategy together for myself. But ultimately, I decided to embrace it instead of resisting it. As a result, I started focusing less on my project management and more on developing myself as a recruiter.
BOBBY: How did all that eventually pivot to you and Michael taking over as owners? How did all of that come to come about?
ALEXIS: It was just time for a lot of reasons. Neil (father) was moving towards retirement, and we were taking over and running the whole operation for the most part. And then, we started working with you (Bob), and we began to formalize the transition. I was about 32, still pretty young in my career, I was just beginning to get some successes under my belt as a recruiter. I was pregnant with my first child, so it was a lot at once.
BOBBY: I guess so!
ALEXIS: For me to figure out what my role was gonna be in all these different phases of my life was interesting. I think we coasted for a little while, and then we started working with you to get more of a handle of how to make this less of a mom and pop kind of operation, to professionalize ourselves, the company, and the brand.
BOBBY: But what I love is that through your story, I see a very resolved Alexis Chase that way back when had a lot of business savvy. I suspect far more so than you realized. And you were willing to double down on that path, sight unseen! Impressive. Few would be willing to take those risks.
BOBBY: What motivates you to be a strong recruiter?
ALEXIS: My clients and my reputation.
BOBBY: What motivates you to be a strong business owner?
ALEXIS: Stability in that, the more secure and well-run and functioning my company is, the more stable the company is, the more stable I am. I suspect the same is true with our team. People need stability.
BOBBY: What would you say is your superpower?
ALEXIS: I think I have the ability to make people feel special.
BOBBY: Nice! Tell me more.
ALEXIS: I can be a chameleon. I can always find something to talk about with someone. I can always find a way to relate to them in a way that I think helps them relate to me.
In my friendships, I put a lot of time into remembering things, remembering occasions, making people feel special when they need to be, being there when they need me. And I think from a work standpoint too, I try and do the same thing. It’s just who I am.
BOBBY: So let’s talk about women in packaging. Tell us how Cocktails & Conversations came to be. What’s the back story?
ALEXIS: I was raised by a very strong, professional, highly educated mother. My sister is also a high-achieving, graduate schools, and career-focused person. I have a lot of really good women friends, like a lot, and I invest a lot of myself in those friendships.
I think to measure what I go through on a day-to-day basis as a mother, as an owner, as a woman in a professional world, as a partner in a relationship, there are aspects to those experiences that only other women understand.
I’ve also gotten to a maturity level where I can really identify with the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated industry. It’s very clear to me now. Whereas when I was younger, I was just trying to fit into the industry. It’s not always easy to be the minority in an industry or setting.
BOBBY: I hear a couple of themes like community, empowerment, mentoring. How did this go from an idea to an event?
ALEXIS: I’ve tasked myself with building a network of friendships with other women in the industry so that when I am out there in the world, I’ve got friendly faces that I can call upon for support. And I think there is a lot of value to connecting with women that understand the industry.
When I was invited to a happy hour last year with women in the industry, some of which I had placed, it felt very like getting together with friends as opposed to colleagues. There was something very comforting about it. And it was women of all ages and all levels in their careers.
I thought to myself, “Why haven’t I been utilizing my ability to bring people together?” which is what I do in my personal life. In some cases, a woman might be the only female salesperson in the whole company. Sometimes, you don’t feel like being one of the guys!
Creating an opportunity for more women to get to know each other and connect, build friendships that create support instead of feeling isolated, is very attractive to me.
BOBBY: This is a great story, very inspiring.
ALEXIS: There’s women in positions of power in the industry, but there’s no company where women are the majority, you know? So you might not be able to find it at your own company.
It’s not about getting to know someone so one day I can place her, I want to get to know these women because I want to be able to pick up the phone and to give and get counsel. It’s like, “I have two kids and work full time; how do you do it?” I think these common threads of connection could really make a difference in our industry.”
BOBBY: So you had your first Cocktails & Conversations event at PackExpo, what’s next?
ALEXIS: I’m in research mode. There’s other events for women that I have not participated in that I want to explore. A part of me is really curious about what’s out there right now for women in the industry. There’s a conference in Nashville in November called Women Breaking the Mold in Plastics that I want to check out, for example.
I’m curious as to what already exists for women; then I’ll either identify where I could offer additional resources or options. The last thing I want to do is create something that creates competition with another female-driven organization. I’m in fact-finding mode.
BOBBY: You spotted a real need, right? And then you got to work to fill that need. I think you’re in it for the right reasons. I love where all this could go for you, the industry. What were your big takeaways from your first happy hour event?
ALEXIS: Women feel pulled in lots of different directions. Women that weren’t there wanted to be there but couldn’t! I experience this every day on some level. What should I be doing? I have a lot of options on how to spend my time doing. Professionally, it’s a similar type of thing, too.
I think another big takeaway was young women are coming into this industry. Probably 25% of the participants were women under 30. They’re looking for mentors. They’re looking for stories of how women have succeeded in this industry. But it’s harder for senior-level people to show up to these events.
We need to show up for the next generation. We need to invest in the future of our industry. Understanding women, their journey, their stories, and challenges, is critical to our success as a sector. Not doing so puts our industry at risk.
Creating connections that give women support, I want to help people and businesses prioritize that, because it’s important.
BOBBY: What do you see as the big opportunities for women in packaging?
ALEXIS: I think that companies want to hire more women and want to find more women that are promotable. I think they’re recognizing that their customers are more diverse than they used to be when it comes to age, ethnicity, and gender.
If you’re not connecting with your customers the same way, because your customers are changing, something needs to change. I think packaging companies know they need a more diverse workforce.
BOBBY: If your daughter were to build a career in the packaging industry, what advice would you give her?
ALEXIS: I would tell her to find a company that has women in leadership roles already, not a company that’s trying to change that necessarily, but a company that’s already successfully diverse.
BOBBY: Why would you give that specific advice?
ALEXIS: Because I think it’s a very hard ceiling to break through in this industry. I believe that men in leadership positions, in some cases, just are not there yet.
BOBBY: Sounds like you want her to stack the deck. If you’re going to go into this industry stack the deck in your favor, and the way you do that is by shopping company culture.
ALEXIS: Yeah, be strategic about it. Find a company that supports women that understands women, and therefore will support your career. If you (her daughter) decide to have a family and children, plug into a company that understands what that takes. Find the culture that will not hold having kids against you, and that will help you succeed.
BOBBY: I want you to remove yourself from packaging for a moment and pretend that you got invited to speak at a women’s only entrepreneurial conference. Let’s say, 200-300 female entrepreneurs in the audience, all different ages. What advice would you give a woman attempting to start her own business?
ALEXIS: I think some women can be self-critical and doubt themselves a lot. I think that’s not productive. Nobody’s perfect. And we’re all hard on ourselves, but don’t let that get you stuck or get into your mind too much. You’re not going to be perfect at all of it, focus on what you do really well. Make it the thing that people remember.
BOBBY: Thanks for hanging out with me today. Even though I’ve been working with you for almost a decade, I learned a ton about your life and beliefs. You have a great deal of wisdom to share.
ALEXIS: I think it’s always fun to tell my own story. I do talk about some things like this with friends, and they ask me about my work or my past and I get into it. I think they’re always surprised to hear a little bit about my perspective on my journey.
What does this have to do with executive recruiting? EVERYTHING! The owners of Chase & Associates bring a great deal more to the table than their exceptional recruiting skills. You cannot recruit visionary leaders without being a visionary leader.
he coffee is cooling on your desk while the headlines scrolling across the news channel are white-hot: “Consumer Confidence Is Plummeting Amid Trade War,” “Manufacturing Industry Is Tanking,” “Business Leaders Expect A Recession Within The Next Six Months.”
The news ticker feeds the butterflies in your stomach. If the recession hits, your company could falter. Who wants to start the workday like that? Stress is never your friend.
Recessions are a natural part of the business cycle. If you haven’t worked through one yet, you will at some point. And given recent headlines, the party might get started sooner rather than later!
But a recession doesn’t automatically mean your company will suffer a slow down, or worse, a contraction. Leave those problems to the broader economy by making your business recession-resistant.
So how do you prepare your company for a recession? Let’s look at some sage advice.
Recession = Opportunity
Many economists consider recessions a natural and unavoidable part of the business cycle. Writing for Bain, Tom Holland and Jeff Katzin note:
“It’s overdue. Predicting the onset of a recession is difficult, but a down turn likely will arrive soon, with the current economic expansion now more than ten years old, long by historical standards.”
Holland and Katzin make an even more important point:
“For corporate leaders, however, the exact timing and duration of a recession matters less than being ready to seize the moment early, when they have more options.”
Bain has found that while unprepared companies must react to emerging crises, prepared companies can seize the moment and use a recession as a chance to reinvest in growth. If a recession does set in, your company should approach it as an opportunity.
Some of your competitors will be taking their foot off the gas during a recession. Many companies put off launching new products and making serious investments. Their indecision opens up space in the market for bold players.
Take food and beverage. Back in 2009, amid the “Great Recession”, food and beverage launches declined 30 percent, according to an analysis of Mintel’s Global New Product Database (GNPD). Companies willing to brave the tumultuous markets faced substantially less competition, which impacts the bottom line.
Renowned business Professors Berk Talay, Koen Pauwels, and Steven Seggie found that automobiles launched during moderate recessions enjoyed a better chance of long-term survival.
Is the prospect of a coming recession keeping you up at night? No worries! We got you covered. Here is the first big takeaway: strategy and preparation can turn a recession into an opportunity.
Play it Smart During a Recession
The labor market is the tightest it has been in years. Over at Inc.com, Wanda Thibodeaux argues that “recruiting just ain’t what it used to be.” She cites a survey suggesting that there’s a shortage of skilled labor, and competition among recruiters is fierce.
Finding the right talent can be difficult. When the business cycle does enter a downturn, the labor market should relax, and more talent should be available.
Translation? Opportunity knocks!
Another company’s layoffs could be your gain, allowing you to snatch up top talent.
Even if you have to weather some lean years, you could emerge from the recession in a stronger position, ready to execute while the competition scrambles to keep up. However, a sudden wealth of talent can make it harder to identify the right candidate.
“One job ad could garner a multitude of applicants. While that seems like a great problem to have, it can also slow time-to-hire and reduce quality-of-hire, as well. And when quality-of-hire goes down, turnover goes up and so do costs.”
Making the wrong hire during a recession is especially risky. New hires need to hit the ground running. The ROI has to be there right out of the gate.
Here is our second big takeaway: position yourself to reap the rewards of a tight job market. Let’s look at how you should approach packaging during a recession.
During recessions, consumers stretch every dollar they spend. Purchasing decisions inspire agony. While it’s always essential for companies to stand out, it’s downright vital during a recession. How so? Agony is a powerful motivator.
Our third big takeaway: added value equals added protection and more sales.
“A customer might skip a fancy dinner,” Hines says, “and pick up easy-to-prepare food at the grocery store instead. So if you’re a food company and can get your packaging right, you could snag a customer from a restaurant.”
Okay, but what about non-food items? If your company’s bread and butter items are luxury items, can you position your products as the quality alternative? Quality made goods stand the test of time. Consumers know this, quality goods last longer.
Americans love vacations, but they’re frequently among the first luxuries cut during a recession. Can you position your products to recreate a vacation at home? Perhaps a massage pad for an aching back or a fire pit for the backyard? Adding a sense of affordable luxury to your packaging could help convince buyers.
Keep in mind; shoppers will want to pay less for more, especially during a recession. If customers are tightening their belt, you need to appeal to their wallets. A potato chip company, for example, could offer 10 percent more chips at the same price.
Be “Durable” During Downturns
Recessions are a great time to hone your brand. Even if you have to struggle through some lean years, you could come out with a stronger company when the business cycle turns again, and the economy starts to expand.
Recessions inspire tough questions. How can we be smarter than our top competitors? How can we add value and improve customer service? Is there top talent looking for a new home? The more you invest in seizing the moment, the better you will perform during a recession.
What do recessions have to do with executive recruiting in packaging? Most of the time, not much! But when a recession does hit, you want an executive recruiting firm at your side that sees downturns as opportunities.
While the grass may be greener, that’s rarely the point. Brokering the win-win is what we do best but that just opens the door. Building a highly successful career in packaging requires taking risks.
Who knows what the future holds? There are no crystal balls. Even the best job offer and compensation package may fall short. None of that matters if you’re not the captain of your own ship.
“We must all learn not only to not fear change, but to embrace it enthusiastically and, perhaps even more important, encourage and drive it.” – Tony Hsieh / Founder & CEO Of Zappos, Author of “Delivering Happiness.”
Are you intellectually curious? How do you handle professional roadblocks? Are you doing your job or are you proactively building a career? Where there is no risk, there is no reward. Sure, we’ve all heard that saying, but few of us live it.
When approached with a job offer, the tendency is to focus on the “package” versus the opportunity. It’s an important distinction. What to do if your best career move requires a weaker overall package? Temporary pain for long-term growth.
“If you really want to get ahead, you have to sit in as many spots as possible and find your expertise,” he says. “It doesn’t matter whether you start out as a recruiter or a generalist, you can learn from any position.” Steve Cadigan, former VP Of Talent – LinkedIn.
Highly successful packaging executives have (3) things in common:
TALENT / Risk without talent is like a ship without a rudder. A deep and unyielding passion for performing fuels risk-taking. It’s the never-ending quest to be the best version of yourself. The result is a reputation. Your personal brand becomes that of a risk-taking rainmaker that gets results.
TENACITY / People that take risks fail more often than mere mortals. Some use failure as an influential teacher and others avoid it like the plague. Risk takers are failure friendly. They have the metal to play the long game. When the hurricane of change hits, they bring calm to the storm.
TAKING RISKS / Informed risk-taking is rooted in talent and sustained by tenacity — the three-act as one. Rainmaking risk takers see opportunity where mortals see risk. When they speak, people listen. And while such notoriety may seem impossible, the path begins with two words – take risks.
Rainmakers are people that make stuff happen at a very high level. Your top sales associate, the Zen-like plant manager, your VP of Operations that is taking the world by storm; all are rainmakers. As noted earlier, rainmakers are known for their talent, tenacity, and their willingness to take risks.
“Accordingly, you can make yourself more comfortable with taking risks simply by taking more risks — even if they’re small ones — in your daily life.” At the end of his guest post, he quotes Jack Canfield, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”
The Hollywood version of being is risk-taker is all about bravado, the big heroic moment. In the real world, being a risk-taker is far more about pushing past your comfort zones, than it is about heroism.
Want to become a rainmaker? Take risks. Fail. Succeed. Grow.
What does this have to do with executive recruiting? EVERYTHING! How can we find the Rainmakers Of Packaging unless we know what they look like? Talent. Tenacity. The willingness to take risks. When you’re looking for a rainmaker, call Chase.
The packaging manufacturing sector continues to attract private equity as a dependable growth investment. Packaging has long been a steady ship in the roughest of seas. But is that about to change? Is the flagship of ROI slowly taking on water? A storm of a different type grows in strength and momentum.
The World Economic Forum put it best in one of their articles when they wrote, “Humanity’s relationship with plastic is rather schizophrenic.” And while they advocate for balanced solutions, it’s impossible to ignore their line, “There will be more plastic than fish in the ocean in 30 years, scientists estimate.” That kind of statistic embeds into a consumer’s brain.
Ok, fine, not good news, but there has been a tidal wave of reform and change in the industry. I mean, right? In 2018, The Economist published an article titled, “Only 9% Of The World’s Plastic Is Recycled.” And let’s not forget the legislation angle.
In May of 2019, California passed a law that requires a 75% reduction in single-use plastics by 2030. The Canadian government announced that it would ban single-use plastics as early as 2021. It’s enough to want to take up residence in your Happy Place permanently.
The good news is, as the pressure intensifies, so does the drive for innovative leadership and solutions.
TheCircular Plastics Economy Outside-The-Box
In last month’s blog post “(15) Clicks To Legendary Leadership In Packaging,” we dedicated an entire section to developing your innovation skills. One of the lines from that post says it all, “If you’re not pushing the envelope, the envelope won’t open.” Let’s take a closer look at the circular economy outside-the-box.
In Thinkstep’s post about sustainable packaging trends (which includes three videos), they tackle the many complexities to creating a circular economy. While their post is EU centric, it’s an influential read for any organization serious about sustainability.
The challenges are many. Will your packaging brand respond to the top (3) trends or just one? An effective strategy requires fully understanding the landscape.
At the bottom of the Thinkstep piece they write, “How can you, as a manufacturer, go against regulatory pressure and potentially risk push-back from customers, to carry out the more sustainable option?.” It’s an interesting question.
ReNew ELP, the winner of the FlexPack Recovery Challenge, offers up a hopeful headline on the homepage of their website; “Unlocking The Value Of Plastic Waste.” It’s a simple statement that gets to the heart of innovative thinking. The solution is found by seeing challenges as opportunities.
In his interview upon winning the challenge, Richard Daley, Managing Director of Renew ELP, mentioned a collaboration to help the country of Timor-Leste. He stated, “This (referring to their technology) represents a significant opportunity to provide real environmental and societal benefit to Timor.” Credible technology + credible impact = results.
In her article for Packaging Digest, Tristanne Davis states, “In the midst of this quickly evolving and increasingly multifaceted conversation on packaging sustainability, many companies are still struggling with the basics.” When our brains and brands struggle with information overload, an overwhelming sense of impossibility kicks in. Rising above the overwhelm is central to taking effective action.
Success on complex issues never happens in a vacuum
In the decades to come, packaging brands large and small will be running two brands, not one. There will be the brand that packages, and there will be the brand that provides the kind of “real environmental and societal benefit” that Richard Daly mentioned.
To accomplish this, to play at the top of your game, join coalitions, connect with influencers, engage in the solution. Grow your sustainability tribe to effectively author strategies that deliver tangible results. Develop the key relationships that will ensure you have a seat at the table.
A strong brand position requires a strong sustainability position.
What does this have to do with executive recruiting? EVERYTHING! How can we find the innovative leaders in the area of sustainability unless we know what they look like? And it speaks to our own values of always thinking outside-the-box.
e wake-up call shatters the darkness of your hotel room. Stumbling around the phone several times, your hand finally grabs the handset. An automated voice wishes you a good morning. For some reason, you respond. The robot says nothing in return. The glamour they don’t talk about in business school.
“Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” Golda Meir, former Prime Minister Of Israel
Surrounding you are some of the most capable minds in sustainable packaging. It’s a small group, just ten, but you trust their counsel. You recently landed a large international client that wants to decrease their carbon footprint. A lot is riding on this account, but for you, it’s business as usual.
“Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work.” Seth Godin, Entrepreneur and Author of (18) best selling books.
Senior executives in the packaging industry have to spin a lot of plates. Legendary leadership? If only you could find the time! We jest, of course. In truth, you’re probably a voracious lifetime learner. But time poverty is real. It’s a thing. And it’s a thing that can get in the way of your growth.
Not to worry, Chase has you covered. You’re 15 clicks away from taking your leadership to the next level!
Inspired Leadership In Packaging
Our first stop, two blogs that will challenge you to rethink your view of leadership. Our second stop, three posts from a blog that explores how to train and inspire the next generation effectively. Let our journey begin!
“But as the pace of change for strategies and business models increases, so does the cost of lagging leadership development. If CEOs and their top teams are serious about long-term performance, they need to commit themselves to the success of corporate leadership-development efforts now.”
“It is the responsibility of anyone who belongs to the group. Though those with formal rank may have authority to work at greater scale, each of us has a responsibility to keep the Circle of Safety strong. We must all start today to do little things for the good of others … one day at a time.”
In the case of McKinsey, metrics, targeted behaviors, drive their approach to leadership development. Simon Sinek embraces a more Zen “everyone is a leader” approach. Perhaps both points of view offer value? Onward we go!
“Google Glass offers a world of possibilities when applied in a dynamic platform such as education. This technology simplifies the idea of constant connectivity and the near constant inflow of information can help students learn better and teachers/ tutors teach better.”
“As both the affective and cognitive domains of the learners are utilized in this learning process, the trainer can stay assured that what he intends to teach is being effortlessly understood. By cultivating values and internalizing them, what an organization gets is a highly skilled and well-informed workforce.”
“The market for corporate leadership training has changed dynamically in recent years, pertaining to the technology used for content creation, delivery procedures, and collaboration amongst trainers and learners. The technical innovations coupled with the digitalization of learning materials has established anew benchmark with regards to leadership development programs.”
Penny for your thoughts! What were your big takeaways from your first (5) clicks? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Thought Leadership In Packaging
If you’ve been reading our blog lately, you’ll notice we’ve doubled down on our quest to become thought leaders in the packaging industry. We’re not alone. Many others are doing the same and for a good reason.
Thought leadership is a lot like making a movie. Have you ever seen a movie filled with unrealistic dialog? The key to exceptional thought leadership is also the key to great filmmaking. Show don’t tell.
The key word is “show,” as in, be visual, demonstrate your value as a brand versus selling your value. Your next (5) clicks are industry blogs, each with a distinct personality that showcases their thought leadership.
When you land on the site, take a close look at their right-hand category navigation. In terms of thought leadership, it’s a sight to behold! Big, bold black letters with lots of white space. Also, note the post counts because how could you not notice the post counts?! This blog screams thought leadership with its robust design and engaging content.
Large images. Bold titles against a very minimalist blog scroll. All of their titles spark curiosity. Courses. Certifications. Training. Everything about this site says, “hey, we know stuff.” While their blogs are brief, the content is the hero, a hallmark quality of thought leadership.
As soon as you arrive on this blog, take notice of how the blog looks and feels. Design Packaging’s couture design makes a powerful first impression. In terms of their thought leadership, check out their categories navigation. Almost 20,000views in just one category? That says it all. Show don’t tell.
The second you land on this blog, it slaps you across the face and makes one point crystal clear – all the cool stuff is at Dieline. Click on one of their blog posts. I dare you. It’s like Andy Warhol started a packaging blog! They end with a witty but real bio on the blogger. Folks, this is what a home run looks like so take a close look.
With all the animation, blinking, a cornucopia of colors, this blog screams CUTTING EDGE – BEYOND RELEVANT – how may we help you? Your brain melts a little. What’s happening? Nervous, you click a link, not exactly sure what might happen. Then, boom, you disappear into the content. Show don’t tell.
Ok, so your brain is still reeling from the inspired leadership section and now this? It’s like packaging Disneyland! We get this is a lot of information, but here’s the deal. It only takes a few ideas to scale your leadership to a whole new level. Quarter for your thoughts? What were your big takeaways from the (5) thought leadership clicks? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Innovative Leadership In Packaging
In case you hadn’t noticed, disruption is a central theme to this blog post. Vanilla is ok, nothing wrong with vanilla. It’s dependable. It’s easy to find. It plays nice with other flavors. And thus all the problems with vanilla.
If you’re not pushing the envelope, the envelope won’t open. If the envelope of all that you and your packaging brand are capable of never opens, what are you leaving on the table? Sometimes, you got to push the envelope.
Focusing on innovative leadership in packaging, your final (5) clicks.
“Just because you’re full of new ideas doesn’t mean you’re prepared to lead others. An innovative leader’s role is to build a community.Innovation is elusive and full of contradictions. It’s about breaking from convention and going in a new unprecedented direction, but also requires incredible teamwork.”
5 TED Talks for Creating a Culture of Innovation
“If you’re looking to create a culture of innovation in your organization it can help to look outwards for ideas. Take a step back and avoid a creative block – learn from the mistakes and successes of others and challenge your assumptions. Here, we shortlist five of the best TED talks for creating a culture of innovation.”
“Irrelevance is the most dangerous future a business can face. Often the result of unmet consumer demands and ignored trends, it is the death knell of a company. Just ask many of the “leading” companies that have ceased to exist in the last decade. Industry and consumer trends are useless if those findings are not integrated into the business strategy.”
We kicked innovative leadership off with three deep dive clicks, two of them containing strong videos. It’s like a crash on innovation! But what about the packaging angle? Your last (2) clicks!
Although we featured a blog post specific to packaging, we recommend wandering around their blog a bit. Clicking on the category tag, “innovation” is a great place to start. It’s a good looking blog that offers brief, on point posts about a variety of topics, to include innovation in packaging.
The posts on this blog are rock solid, strong visuals, and brief. What impressed us most about this blog is how much they pack into, pardon the pun, each post. There is a ton of quality information in each bite sized serving. Same with their Disruptive category. We suggest surfing their site for the topics that matter the most to you and your packaging brand.
Silver dollar for your thoughts? What were your big takeaways from the (5) innovative leadership clicks? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Do you know the wake-up call story that kicked off this blog post? The phone ringing in a pitch dark hotel room, followed by the mad scramble to find the phone. What if we were able to find you the senior executive that snags the phone on the first try, every single time? For the record, it’s one of the things we do best.
It is easy to forget the human side of moving someone, often an entire family, from one job to another job. Pulling up one’s roots is no small decision. It’s a big decision. It’s an emotional decision. It’s a profoundly personal decision.
How skilled is your packaging company at helping potential hires during these vulnerable moments of transition?
Your ability to attract and retain the best and brightest is as much about your culture as it is your HR department. Your company culture can become one of your greatest competitive assets, or not.
Let’s revisit the idea of vulnerable moments.
When a brand values their Best Place To Work awards as much as they value the bottom line, the bottom line grows. Retention soars. People plug into something bigger than themselves.
Take, for example, Brigade – a creative agency with serious chops in package design. When Ad Age deemed Brigade one of the best places to work in 2017, Ad Age said something about the leadership of Brigade.
Back to those vulnerable moments – the sequel.
If you’re thinking about uprooting your family to join Team Brigade, you’re probably thinking those Brigade people get it. They get the fact that uprooting your family is a tough, vulnerable decision to make.
Beyond Brigade’s award is the tone they set on their website. In particular, they are showcasing how Brigade treats their interns. Seriously? Interns? How you treat interns says a ton about how you view people in general.
Ok, cool, but what does that have to do with a packaging executive uprooting his or her family for a new job? Everything! Brigade treating their interns like gold makes a statement to the world. It demonstrates how they view people, which gives a potential hire what he or she most craves, peace of mind.
Interns. New hires. Long-term employees. When it’s all for one, everybody wins.
Does your packaging brand give new hires peace of mind? If not, how can you change that? The recruiting and hiring process is a human process.
Sonderen Packaging: A Case Study In Excellence
Excellence is a decision. It’s the choice to rise above the crowd in the areas that matter the most; value, customer service, company culture, to mention a few. To this end, Sonderen sets the standard as evidenced by the many awards they have won.
But it goes deeper than awards. Much deeper.
When you’re building a packaging brand, the tone is everything. The same is true when you are trying to attract top-tier talent. Tone, in this context, is defined as the “general character or attitude of a brand and company culture.”
The best way to experience the tone of the Sonderen brand is the (6)-minute video found on their About Page. To be clear, we have no affiliation with Sonderen. They don’t even know we’re writing about them!
After viewing the Sonderen About Page video, what words would you use to describe their brand? What words would you use to describe their company culture? It’s easy to see why they have won so many awards.
“All of us out here (plant floor) take pride in what the finished product looks like.”
In the name of full disclosure, many agencies can make an excellent video for your brand. Getting an employee to deliver the perfect line is also easy to craft. But is it real? And what does that have to do with recruiting? The answer is on their website.
When you’re a recruiter talking to someone about turning their life upside down, such cultures are pure gold. Companies like Sonderen tell a potential hire that yes, change can be tough, but the ROI will be worth it in the end.
And who doesn’t want to join a company passionate about excellence?
Tone matters. Excellence matters. Such brand qualities play to our base need to do meaningful work. When we feel a potential employer offers us those things, we naturally attract to the impact that could have on our lives.
Will Trinity Ever Host Saturday Night Live?
If you’re like me, such a question melts your brain a little.
Pop culture, ugh. Who is Trinity? Pop star? Actor? Comedian? Influencer?
The thing is, it’s a valid question, and we think one of Trinity’s employees was in Game Of Thrones. We’ll let their YouTube video fill in the blanks.
Ok, so the article title stretches from sea to shining sea but the takeaway is clear. We want to drink beer with these Trinity people! Virgin America was famous for taking a similar approach to their marketing.
When we want to drink beer with a brand’s persona, we are far more likely to join their team. How so? Trust. Trinity Packaging is a brand people can trust. And when it comes to recruiting top talent, trust is the name of the game.
Trinity only produced a small amount of YouTube content. Same on the blogging platform, Medium. But the content they did produce (let’s hope they provide more), backed by awards and recognition, put them on our radar.
Meaning, their brand rose well above the noise to capture our attention. Do you think that might matter to a potential hire? Absolutely!
Retaining top talent is about a whole lot more than a fun brand. But it’s a great place to start, especially if you back it up with exceptional leadership.
Recruiting for the packaging industry is a very human process filled with real fears and stress points. Companies like Brigade, Sonderen, and Trinity calm those nerves by bringing a lot to the table. We have no affiliation with any of these brands, but their stories touched us, so we wanted to share them with you.
“Only those who have stood within the bars and heard the din of devils and the appalling sounds of despair can imagine the horrors of the hold of a convict ship.”
John Boyle O’Reilly
What the heck? Isn’t this blog about executive recruiting? The packaging industry? HR tips? Maybe a useful web link now and then? Indeed, it is.
Guess how we came upon Mr. O’Reilly’s story? You’re not going to believe me. We met Mr. O’Reilly on a talking wine bottle. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
“The men featured on our wine labels are not those of fiction. They were flesh and blood. Criminals, artists, and scholars. In history, they share a bond – receiving “punishment by transportation” for violation of one of 19 crimes and becoming the first settlers of a new nation.”
The 19 Crimes Website
And the nation? Australia. News to me!
What to do when wine bottles give The History Channel a run for its money?
Hmmm, now that I think about it– Happy History Hour! I digress.
19 Crimes is one of seventy brands owned by Treasury Wine Estates, one of the largest wine companies in the world. And let’s be honest, they know how to tell a story. Big time.
But did it work? I’ll let Ashely Roberts’ epic blog post, “Smart Packaging Has Arrived- Are You Ready?” answer that question. Her deep dive post pairs nicely with The Uprising, a 19 Crimes wine with a story of its own.
Treasury Wine Estates is not merely using a gimmick to sell wine. There is a deep and passionate connection between the “criminals, artists and scholars” their wine labels feature, and their brand. The two act as one.
Did I mention their wine corks? But another way to bring the lore to life. Storytelling floods their website. New wines and scallywags are added on an ongoing basis, each one, a new chapter in the 19 Crimes storybook.
How can you use Smart Packaging to tell your story? How can you use Smart Packaging to connect with your audience?
When it comes to branding wine, it’s 19 Crimes for the win!
Smart Packaging & The Call To Innovate
I get it. Truly, I do. You’re still trying to get your head around the “Happy History Hour” talking wine bottles thing. I feel your pain. Nonetheless, Ladies and Gentleman, I present– Mrs. Rinaldi. Her pasta sauce is fantastico!
Yep, another talking bottle, this time– on behalf of sauces for pasta.
“Through AR, we are looking forward and focusing on technology, while staying true to our traditional pasta sauce recipes and Italian culture.”
As is the case with 19 Crimes, Smart Packaging is used to tell brand driven stories and to connect with customers. Mrs. Rinaldi tells us three stories via the Rinaldi labels, two about her sauces, one about the eco-friendly nature of the container they use to bottle those sauces (also noted in Jenni’s article).
From strategy to execution, LiDestri Food & Drink uses Smart Packaging to communicate three core brand values:
Traditional pasta sauce recipes
Environmentally friendly container
When I think about all the money I’ve spent on radio ads over the years! It’s depressing. I could have hired a label as a spokesperson!
The thing that makes all this work at LiDestri is their packaging strategies are born from their deeply held values. The first thing you see on the LiDestri website? Tradition & Innovation.
“Taking away the guesswork and providing our partners with smart, up-to-date packaging solutions is one of the cornerstones of our business. Consider the Living Jar™– it’s beautifully designed, fundamentally strong, environmentally friendly, and in every way the embodiment of meaningful innovation at LiDestri.”
Smart Packaging backed by exceptional leadership and enduring values, the key to sustainable success. That is LiDestri Food & Drink.
Smart Packaging: 101
Peter Knapp is a smart guy. Peter Knapp gets it. As the Chairman & Global Creative Officer for the brand building powerhouse, Landor- his expertise in the digital space is vast.
In his article for Packaging World, he makes a case for building trust and providing value as crucial to Smart Packaging strategies.
“… when executed properly—and with a little vision—the possibilities for brands to use smart packaging are almost endless.”
Key in on the term “when executed properly.” In the case of 19 Crimes and Mrs. Rinaldo, they are the embodiment of that standard. Anything less turns Smart Packaging into a gimmick with a short shelf life.
Peter ends his piece with a powerful truth.
“Trust is the last vanguard between the human and machine world and, in the smart packaging revolution, the brands that understand this will rise to the top.”
I also suggest watching his Experience Mapping video on the Landor website. In it, he makes a simple statement but in that simple statement, we find the cornerstone to excellent brand strategy.
“What we try to do is think about the brand in very human terms.”
A simple statement. Not a lot there. Thing is, that is how you build an extraordinary brand. Like a Swiss Army knife, everything you need in a tiny little package.
How you execute that simple truth is key. A few moments later in the video, Peter shares the Landor experience mapping process. The thing that most stood out is the language they use. Direct. Easy to understand. Relevant.
Do you look at your brand through a very human lens? Are you using Smart Packaging like LiDistri and 19 Crimes? Is your brand committed to building meaningful relationships with your customer base?
Building trust. Providing value. Telling compelling stories that keep your customers coming back for more. The hallmark traits of Smart Packaging at its best.
What does this have to do with executive recruiting? EVERYTHING! How can we find the best innovators unless we know what they look like? It’s also how we built Chase. Authenticity. A strong company culture. Innovation.
Careers in packaging can take on many forms – buyers, designers, engineers, etc. Yet, some of the most lucrative and rewarding industry jobs can be found in upper management. With a vibrant economy and business-friendly climate, the demand for qualified talent is surging. Here are four great opportunities to explore.
1. VP of Packaging Sales
The VP of sales main responsibility is driving revenue growth for the organization. These professionals are often tasked with managing the company’s sales force and directing department strategy. Sales VPs act as a liaison between their team members and other functional units within the business.
They create sales plans, forecasts, and budgets and constantly monitor each to ensure optimal performance. VPs of Sales generate strategic and tactical plans to uncover potential business opportunities and utilize them to grow the customer base.
These leaders manage relationships with clients and major account executives to create value-added packaging solutions. By partnering with key decision makers, these executives nurture existing partnerships and ensure clients receive high-levels of service and support.
Sales VPs must also keep up-to-date on packaging industry trends and determine how they impact stakeholders and their businesses. They also evaluate and analyze competitors and provide strategic feedback to company leadership on how to remain competitive.
A strong combination of analytical and strategic thinking skills is essential for this role. Sales VPs use this knowledge to identify business opportunities and solve complex problems related to their implementation.
Attention to detail and the ability to think quickly and adapt to changing business environments is crucial also. Not to mention top-notch presentation skills and the ability to communicate with various audiences and decision makers.
Most professionals in this category have at least 10 years of sales experience and proven track records in negotiation and closing major deals.
2. VP of Marketing
VPs of Marketing oversee the brand’s marketing strategy as well as manage the team and core functions within it. They implement key product elements such as positioning, content development and distribution, public relations, and corporate communications.
They are tasked with end-to-end ownership of both the vision and execution of product and organizational marketing campaigns. Marketing VP’s are in charge of launching new products and services and administering lead generation programs.
These packaging professionals are involved in the creation of a number of different marketing collateral types including websites, blogs, case studies, white papers, data sheets, presentations, and instructional videos. Marketing VPs may also be involved in securing advertising mediums such as radio and television, print, email, and the web.
It goes without saying, but executives in this popular packaging job need to be well versed in marketing and sales methodologies. But these roles also require sound analytics and project management skills as well.
Creativity, flexibility, and enthusiasm – along with an intimate understanding of B2B sales concepts and business models – is helpful also. Marketing VPs must be able to lead a team, work under pressure, and thrive in a fast-paced environment.
3. VP of Packaging Operations
Another rewarding packaging career is Vice President of Operations. These go-getters plan and oversee the day-to-day operations of packaging companies and keep everything on track. Their actions ensure production goals are met and provide input on how to promote future growth.
Operations VPs frequently juggle multiple assignments and have to think on their feet. They coordinate with managers from other departments (e.g., sales, engineering, production, IT, and customer support) to oversee projects and identify bottlenecks.
These leaders also help formulate policies/procedures and are instrumental in setting company goals. Their work improves business processes and strategies. In many cases, they’re also tasked with evaluating the performance of other department managers and their subordinates.
First and foremost, Operations VPs must have excellent communication and negotiation skills. Being able to multitask, problem solve and exhibit strong leadership traits are important as well. The ability to analyze/interpret data and prudently manage financial resources is critical also.
Lastly, a comprehensive understanding of technology may serve them well in streamlining operations and enhancing future growth. For most openings, MBAs are the preferred degree requirement. Along with prior experience in marketing, sales, finance, accounting, or other senior leadership roles.
4. CFO (Chief Financial Officer)
As the name implies, CFOs execute the financial strategy and management of accounting functions for packaging organizations. In addition to financial oversight, these experts are involved in operational strategy and ensuring compliance with legal entities.
CFOs interact with 3rd party vendors involved with company accounting or finance functions. They prepare financial reports and statements for the company board of directors. Chief Financial Officers also monitor cash reserves, investments, and advise on mitigating risk to the company and its employees.
In addition to maintaining regulatory compliance, CFOs also protect company assets. They manage insurance coverages and assist with claims and damage awards.
As with other popular packaging jobs, CFOs must possess strong leadership, decision-making, and communication skills. They also need to be strategic thinkers/planners and have extensive experience in project management.
An MBA or master’s degree in accounting or finance is typically the prerequisite. Larger packaging firms may also require professional designations such as CPA (Certified Public Accountant) or CMA (Certified Management Account) along with 10+ years of financial experience.
For those with management backgrounds in sales, marketing, operations, or finance packaging industry careers are great options. Salaries are competitive, opportunities abundant, and the roles themselves both diverse and challenging. An ideal balance to learn and grow professionally.
Should you decide to explore your options, partnering with an experienced packaging recruiting firm makes sense. These professionals know the industry and can find ideal matches based on your experience, talents, and goals. They can also assist with the application and negotiation processes and answer other questions along the way.
After all, if you’re serious about putting your best foot forward, why not work with a team who can make it happen?
The packaging industry is experiencing unprecedented growth these days. While good news overall, this rapid expansion does present some challenges. Like when it comes to talent acquisition and recruitment strategies. Learn how to overcome the hurdles packaging companies face while continuing to recruit top employees.
The Packaging Industry Lacks Quality Candidates
Recruiters and HR managers hear this phrase a lot (and with good reason). The current national unemployment rate is hovering just under 4% and holding steady. It’s a candidate’s market and the brightest packaging talent is in demand.
For employers, that means you must move quickly to secure quality candidates.
Waiting too long, or delaying the hiring process, equates to missing out. Not to mention the tactics that worked just a few years ago may prove irrelevant today. Packaging organizations must stay up on the latest recruiting trends and work to separate themselves from the pack.
A proven method to stand out from the competition is to create a strong corporate culture. The most sought-after brands put their beliefs and values center-stage in their marketing. Clearly defining who they are, what they do, and the people and causes that they serve.
Strong company cultures make attracting and retaining the best talent easier.
Candidates know exactly what they’re getting into. There’s little chance of having “buyer’s remorse” after the fact. When applicant’s values align with prospective employers they’re more likely to pursue such opportunities. Going out of their way to be proactive, remain engaged, and accept job offers.
A few ways to foster this type of enthusiasm include:
Staying active on social media and promoting what the brand is doing
Highlighting top-performing employees and sharing their stories
Letting others know about company initiatives and awards
Participating in social issues or charities
This sharing of information is especially important in recruiting millennials. More than money, these candidates often have a strong desire to make an impact with their work. Many won’t even bother applying to companies that don’t share similar beliefs.
Younger workers also gravitate toward eco-friendly employers who promote sustainability with their actions. These companies understand that sending the right environmental message is key to recruiting and retaining future talent.
Another area where companies fall short with talent acquisition is in the hiring process itself. Good packaging executives know they have options and won’t stand for a lackluster candidate experience. Prospective talent needs to feel valued and welcome from start to finish.
A positive candidate experience creates employees who willingly tout your brand.
Which makes finding talent much easier overall. For starters, consider ditching the lengthy interview process. You can’t expect candidates to jump through hoops when they have so many other opportunities available.
Most packaging professionals are looking for a job now and don’t want to have to wait for it. If required to do so, they’ll likely look elsewhere.
It’s a good idea to periodically review your onboarding process and see where there’s room for improvement. Such as expediting communications, keeping candidates in the loop, and letting them know the next steps in the process. The more comfortable you make applicant’s feel the more inclined they’ll be to join the team.
It’s a wise idea for both candidates and employers to work with an experienced packaging recruiter to accomplish their goals. For hiring managers, recruiters can collaborate with passive candidates (who aren’t actively looking) that may be open to new opportunities.
For candidates, recruiters can identify companies and cultures that match their values. They can also assist with interviewing advice and contract negotiations when the time comes.
Keep in mind that you want to move fast – but not too fast. Hiring the wrong kind of (toxic) candidate can do more harm than not hiring anyone at all.
There’s Too Much Competition for Packaging Talent
With such a talent supply/demand imbalance in the packaging sector, some companies feel that it’s too difficult to compete. Granted, it’s harder to find good people in a tight labor market, but you can still land great packaging executives with the right recruitment strategies.
Staying proactive is a big part of the battle. Like protecting your brand online and throughout social media. Candidates usually visit employer review sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and LinkedIn long before you ever hear from them. If they find too many bad reviews or negative comments, they’ll move on and ignore your brand.
Thus, it’s important for employers to monitor these sites and respond (when appropriate) to disparaging feedback. But also take what’s being said and use it as constructive criticism to understand how to improve.
Another excellent recruitment strategy is to write more focused and compelling job descriptions. Ones that clearly illustrate exactly who you’re looking for and what they’re expected to do. This sets expectations and can reduce the effort spent on recruiting in a number of ways.
Valuing their time and interest leaves a good impression.
Candidates appreciate your openness and honesty in their searches.
You separate those who want a job from those who really want YOUR job.
There’s nothing wrong with accepting a job simply because it’s a good offer. But candidates who have a genuine interest in the company are more likely to be top-performers and stick around for the long haul.
Lastly, if you’re a smaller company, think of how to use size to your advantage. Like competing on perks/workplace flexibility vs. pay and benefits alone. And emphasizing how candidates have more opportunity to advance as the company grows. Incentives that many of the big employers can’t offer.
Workplace Diversity Is Not a Priority
Finally, to improve recruiting results, packaging companies should focus on inclusion in the hiring process. Because although many companies say they want diversity very few understand what it really means.
The company mindset should be on how diversity improves productivity, growth, and recruiting. Not just trying to fill a quota or doing what they believe is right.
After all, consider some of the biggest names in business – Google, Facebook, Apple, etc. These brands are not only incredibly innovative but also some of the most diverse. That’s because these two elements go hand in hand.
Great organizations attract top talent and create amazing products. Employees invite friends and colleagues to come onboard and the cycle continues. Diversity becomes a self-sustaining force.
Keep in mind that these changes won’t happen overnight. Achieving true diversity in packaging organizations takes years to accomplish. But the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll get there.
And the faster your organization will reap the benefits.
Recruiting packaging executives and other industry professionals is getting harder, but acquiring great talent is still within reach. Organizations just need to be more intentional with how they go about it.
Successful companies understand that it’s a job seeker’s market. They know recruiting is a top priority and candidates must feel valued and appreciated throughout their journey.
Smart packaging firms are also keen to the fact that their brand’s reputation means everything. They actively promote their values both on and offline and celebrate the accomplishments of their employees. In the end, recruiting isn’t about finding the right people – it’s doing the right things and encouraging them to find you.
It’s an exciting time to be in the packaging industry. The economy is booming and the demand for innovative packaging solutions has never been higher. Companies pioneering these new technologies are revolutionizing the packaging process and changing the way we do business. Here are a few you should know about.
Lightweight Packaging Conserves Resources
A constantly evolving industry goal has always been lightweighting – packaging of comparable value that costs less and requires fewer materials to produce. These innovations benefit businesses and consumers alike as the savings can improve margins and lead to smaller shopping bills.
A great example of lightweighting is the PET bottle for Vitaminwater. Partnering with Amcor, The Coca-Cola Co. was able to reduce the product’s weight by 15% while improving packaging strength and performance at the same time. Amcor claims this change used 500,000 fewer pounds of resin and reduced CO2 emissions by roughly 1.8M pounds.
Lightweighting has gained favor with consumers over the last few years because of its sustainability benefits and reduced costs. And with continuous advancements in manufacturing and design, this trend shows no signs of slowing down.
Smart Packaging Creates Interactive Brands
Technology has made inroads into every area of our lives and packaging is no exception. New high-tech add-ons can be used to monitor everything from product freshness and package integrity to delivering unique content and improving the customer experience.
A good case study of this technology comes from IoT vendor Inductive Intelligence. Their innovative product is used with paper, plastic, glass, foil or metal to create one-of-a-kind packaging that can be heated or used to transmit data.
When placed on a special base unit, the Inductive Intelligence packaging authenticates wirelessly and heats to the correct temperature automatically – faster and more efficiently than in a microwave. Using just the right amount of power for each application, this technology saves energy and reduces the need for separate serving containers.
But it doesn’t stop there – smart packaging serves as a marketing tool as well.
By embedding QR codes, RFID tags, or NFC technologies on product labels, the shopping experience takes on a whole new meaning. Using their smartphones, consumers can quickly scan these labels and gain access to product-specific content like:
And let’s not forget the opportunity to promote brand loyalty through rewards programs or in-store discounts.
Modern consumers are tech savvy and look for the same kind of intelligence in the products they buy. Being the first to offer these kinds of add-ons puts organizations in a more favorable light with consumers. It also makes products memorable and more likely to stand out amongst the competition.
Digital Printing Levels the Playing Field
High-quality printing has typically been reserved for big brands and their subsidiaries, but that’s no longer the case. Companies like ePac are disrupting the packaging industry by offering fast, print to demand service for startups and small companies. These on-demand services eliminate excess inventory and can include customized content and variable imaging on final products.
An ideal setup for small to mid-sized companies with short-run, high-change over assets that want to compete in established markets. Currently serving niches such as confections, pet food, and organic snacks, ePac’s advanced packaging and printing options allow most any organization to look like an established powerhouse CPG.
Edible Packaging Improves How We Eat
Consumers are clamoring for packaging that’s ultra-portable and environmentally friendly. Not surprisingly, food packaging providers are experiencing unprecedented yearly growth. According to industry estimates, this segment expects to see a CAGR of 5.2% over the next 10 years with nearly $360 Billion in revenue.
One of the hottest trends in food storage is edible packaging.
Imagine, having all the ingredients necessary for a tasty meal pre-portioned in safe, ready-to-eat containers. Simply drop the ingredients into hot water, cook, and serve. Sounds like science fiction, but it’s happening today.
Companies like Monosol and WikiCell are designing food-grade packaging that’s shelf-stable and ready to eat. Contents are wrapped in water-soluble membranes that dissolve when cooked. Odorless, tasteless, and transparent, these plant-based containers are revolutionizing the way people cook and eat.
Besides being affordable, edible packaging virtually eliminates the need for plastic.
Products like these are easy to scale, provide safety and consistency for consumers, and are good for the environment. Brand names like Whole Foods and Stonyfield dairies are already on board with others expected to join in soon.
Other non-edible food packaging options are seeing major advancements also.
Companies like Sealed Air and Mondi are designing products to maximize food shelf-life and enhance freshness. Not only do these new barriers provide excellent safety and security, but many include eco-friendly biodegradable options as well. All at prices that are comparable to (or below) traditional materials.
Non-Stick Packaging Eliminates Waste
Although not as heralded as their food specific counterparts, non-stick packaging solutions are shaking up the industry also. Companies like Liquiglide and Orkla are teaming up to produce containers featuring non-stick coatings that reduce waste and improve the customer experience.
A gentle squeeze is all it takes to get consistent, predictable results each and every time. Besides reducing the “frustration” factor, Liquiglide’s proprietary solution provides a number of other desirable benefits:
Easier recycling – since ingredients don’t stick to the container, less water is needed to clean items before disposal.
Reduced waste – every drop of product is used with nothing left behind. Fewer resources are required for creation and transport as compared with comparable items.
Consistent dosages – even pressure means no overflows when a container is full or struggles when close to empty.
New designs and innovations – containers need not be a certain size or shape any longer – items flow just as easily from one design to the next.
Entertainment – free-flowing contents are entertaining (especially for kids) and may promote healthy habits like brushing teeth and using mouthwash.
The Liquiglide product is odorless, tasteless, and created from FDA-approved materials. Which makes it suitable for many different applications. While food and consumer products have been the initial proving grounds, the company is also looking into industrial and healthcare applications as well.
Elmer’s glue recently incorporated this technology into their packaging along with roughly 30 other U.S. companies not far behind.
With advancements in technology, materials, design and printing, packaging innovations are happening every day. Forward-thinking companies are creating packaging solutions that cut costs, reduce waste, and improve the environment. Consumers are taking notice and rewarding these brands with their shopping dollars.
Naturally, with a strong growth outlook and high-demand for qualified talent, starting a career in packaging has never looked better. Jobs are plentiful and so are the opportunities to advance. Packaging executives with the right skills and experience are leading the charge and creating solutions for the next generation and beyond.
What other innovations or brands do you think are changing the industry?
A successful career in packaging begins with a great job interview. While some candidates elect to go it alone and take their chances, working with a packaging recruiter is a safer option. Yet, to ensure they make the most of their opportunities, job seekers need to meet them halfway. Here’s what the pros recommend.
Be Honest With Your Recruiter
While it’s tempting to stretch the truth – or omit negative/embarrassing details – being honest with your recruiter is always the best policy. After all, the recruiting mission is about representing you and bringing stability to an otherwise unpredictable process. Recruiters work tirelessly to uncover your authentic story and position you as the logical choice for employers.
But it’s hard to do without the facts.
Don’t worry – a few mistakes in your packaging career is nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone has ups and downs and veteran recruiters will never judge your past. However, you must be transparent and provide details when asked.
Otherwise, seemingly minor issues may come back to haunt you. Like when a background check reveals an oversight (and it’s too late to spin it in your favor). Or a non-compete agreement surfaces which limits your options. Sooner or later, the truth will come out.
Don’t get caught off guard when it does.
Never Stop Communicating
Along with honesty, great communication skills are paramount for a successful packaging job placement. When your recruiter asks for information, be quick to provide it. Ideally, you should reply within 24 hours.
If you can’t respond (for whatever reason), communicate via text or email and let your recruiter know why.
Keep in mind that if your recruiter requests something, there’s a reason why. The data is likely needed to either strengthen your proposal or clarify any possible misunderstandings. Both of which work in your favor.
Occasionally, candidates are hesitant to respond because they feel like recruiters leave them hanging. Yet, that’s rarely the case. Recruiters provide as much information as possible at any given time, but sometimes there’s nothing new to report.
Serving as an intermediary between clients and employers means waiting is part of the process. Negotiations take time as one side typically weighs all information before responding to the other. Rest assured your recruiter is working behind the scenes to protect your interests.
So, don’t “ghost”, disappear, or stop responding. Stay present and engaged (and your recruiter will do the same).
Consult With Your Recruiter Before Negotiating
A common mistake in interviews is to mention compensation too soon. It’s understandable why – pay and benefits are an important part of the equation. However, these elements are far easier to negotiate once you’ve made your case.
To protect your interests, talk to your recruiter before discussing compensation. They negotiate deals every day and understand the value of qualified packaging executives in today’s economy. Their guidance can help to ensure you’re not undervaluing yourself or your abilities
Most will advise you to be warm and friendly and build rapport during the interview. They’ll also recommend that you frame your skills and experience in a way that benefits the employer. Finally, articulate how bringing you on board will increase productivity, revenue, or otherwise strengthen the organization.
In other words, sell them (on you).
Keep in mind that recruiters strive to ensure a win-win in all aspects of a placement. Which includes compensation, benefits, and any other number of perks.
Besides, with it comes to career growth, having an ally in your corner only makes sense.
Recruiters Can Polish Your Messaging
Ever watched someone give an impassioned speech – only to be distracted by a small gaffe or faux pas? You’re transfixed on the blemish (rather than focused on the message). Careless mistakes with correspondence have the same effect.
No matter how qualified you are, overlooking the details can sink your chances.
And it’s usually the little things that trip you up. Like misspelled names on documents or forms. Mentioning the wrong person or company when providing information. Or failing to correct spelling and grammar errors in emails, texts, or resumes.
Minor details are easy to miss but have a major impact.
One way to avoid this issue is by funneling communications through your recruiter. Most are happy to proofread and double-check any correspondence before submitting to an employer.
Spell checkers and grammar apps can help, but they only go so far. Working with a recruiter who understands the language and flow of the hiring process often makes all the difference.
It’s tempting to inflate your skills or accomplishments to land a job but doing so causes problems later on. After all, you’re putting on a front to win the employer over, but how long can you keep it up? And what happens when you stop trying?
A big part of packaging career success is meshing with company culture and fellow employees. Being yourself is the only way to know if the fit is right (for both parties).
You want the employer to like you, but you need to be happy with them as well. And it’s hard to work for a company that doesn’t share your beliefs and values. You’ll be bored and unhappy, quit (or get fired) and end up back at square one.
Bottom line – don’t pretend to be someone you are not.
Professional Behavior Makes Candidates Shine
Whatever happens, remain professional at all times. Don’t lose your cool and lash out or say something you’ll regret later – no matter how frustrated you become with the interview process.
Emotional outbursts or unprofessional reactions hurt your chances.
Even if you don’t feel it’s the right fit, making a good impression can still pay dividends. Smile, answer any questions they have, and thank the employer for their time and the opportunity.
Doing so leaves you in a better position should anything else come up. If offered constructive criticism, be gracious and accept it. Whether it comes from the interview panel or your recruiter.
Because there’s always room for improvement.
Working with an experienced packaging recruiter is a smart move. The best ones know their niche well and specialize in finding opportunities that suit everyone involved. From companies and departments to employees and their families.
Look for agencies that research background information about your career path, are upfront regarding your strengths and weaknesses, and empathize with the hard times we’ve all had during our careers.
To get the most out of the experience, always put your best foot forward. Be honest with yourself and your recruiter, remain professional at all times, and pay attention to detail. When asked for information, respond in a timely fashion and don’t hide or exaggerate the truth.
In the end, the same qualities that drive a successful packaging career are the ones that get you hired in the first place.
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