As we get older, time seems to go faster. Why is that? I have never heard a good answer, but it was a year ago that I last talked about ice cream packaging.

As we get older, time seems to go faster. Why is that? I have never heard a good answer, but it was a year ago that I last talked about ice cream packaging. Although the time went quickly, a year is still 365 days and there has been very little new news in ice cream packaging. There have been some incremental improvements that provide some level of benefit, but there ought to be more.

What happened

Kirkland Signature Ice Cream (Costco) changed its packaging from a one-gallon container to two half-gallon containers. This was done to provide enhanced product freshness and better freezer fit. This was a good move, but still a yawner.

Well's Blue Bunny Premium Light Ice Cream is in a new "Freshlock™" container that offers improved evidence and better shelf-impact. Tamper evidence is gaining some momentum in the category.

Outside the United States, Nestle and Unilever have introduced new plastic tub packages for some of their ice cream products. There seems to be more going on with plastic outside the U.S., but opacity is very important to keep light induced lipid oxidation to a minimum.

The focus during the last year has been on quality and "safety" improvements. Now the challenge for the industry is to move toward better shelf-impact and improved functional benefits for consumers.

With more than 33,000 new products introduced each year and marketing moving from media-driven to consumer-driven, ice cream packaging needs to make a difference. More companies are recognizing the importance of packaging and the ice cream category could really benefit from packaging innovation. Let's look at a new approach.

A new approach

If you read my column last year, we actually provided some good thoughts and insights to suppliers, converters, Consumer Packaged Goods (CPGs), and retailers to take the value of ice cream packaging to a new level. Maybe some people are working on it now?

Let's try another approach. NewProductWorks (NPW; in Ann Arbor, Mich., has a physical collection of more than 100,000 new and once-new products/ packages. If you have not been there, you should go. We were recently working on a large packaging innovation project for a Fortune 500 Company that wanted its packaging to provide more value and benefit to customers. We did a "typical" brainstorming session, got lots of consumer data, and mined that information for insights, etc. After brainstorming, we suggested visiting NPW. The team developed some great packaging ideas that were rooted in consumer benefit and were right for the market. Guess what? We found that almost everything we identified was commercialized between 10 to 20 years earlier! This was both good news and bad news. The good news was our ideas had already been commercialized; the bad news was that they failed. But, this was not really bad news because most new products (packages) fail. The important thing is to understand why they failed. Were they:
  • Ahead of the market?
  • Not clearly consumer targeted?
  • Not offering the right value/benefits for the cost?
  • Not functioning properly?
  • Not intuitive?

Answering these questions is key, and a resource like NPW to begin your innovation efforts provides a new and different opportunity to scout for packaging innovation, consumer value, and benefits for your category. There are lots of old and new tools available to help companies reinvigorate their innovation efforts and NPW is one example to help companies get on the innovation and growth track for packaging.

I will be back in a year to see how we fared in our hunt for new, innovative, margin-building, consumer-preferred ice cream packaging that jumps out of the freezers-and other places, too!

PTIS and Leading Futurists will be conducting a new and exciting program in 2007 to help companies deliver better results through packaging: The Future of Packaging: The Tipping Point 2007-2016. For more information contact