PACKAGING INDUSTRY

THE PACKAGING INDUSTRY HAS COME A LONG WAY FROM MANUFACTURING CARDBOARD BOXES AND PLASTIC CONTAINERS. ANURADHA ANUPKUMAR UNWRAPS THE LESSER ...

THE PACKAGING INDUSTRY HAS COME A LONG WAY FROM MANUFACTURING CARDBOARD BOXES AND PLASTIC CONTAINERS. ANURADHA ANUPKUMAR UNWRAPS THE LESSER KNOWN CAREERS IN THE COLOURFUL AND FLOURISHING PACKAGING INDUSTRY



A walk down a supermarket aisle exposes you to a battery of brands, each contending with the other for your undivided attention and patronage. Colours, designs, logos, and unique shapes and silhouettes — all jump out at you, attempting to cut through the clutter. In that split second, what sells you on a product? It isn't the quality of the product, which you will come only later to appreciate — or abhor — it's the packaging that helps the product stand out. The allimportant first impression.
In an era of instant gratification and tough market competition, the old adage, 'don't judge a book by its cover,' is now obsolete and inaccurate. Presentation matters, and branding and marketing managers have caught onto this powerful tool, that has ceased to act as a mere appendage of the manufacturing sector. The packaging industry today is estimated to be worth approximately Rs 65,000 crores and has a tremendous role to play in the modern economy. Not only is it a veritable warehouse of employment opportunities due to its many linkages, like manufacturing, printing, labelling etc, but it also helps preserve wealth in the form of protecting perishables and nonperishables, improving shelf life, thereby preventing losses.

PACKAGING PROFILES

In spite of its rapid growth, the significance of the packaging industry is being recognised and appreciated separately from its cruder cousin — packing — only recently, as a growing employment hub. “There are opportunities all across the p a c k a g i n g industry, which co m p r i s e s p a c k a g i n g manufacturers, co nve r te r s, m a c h i n e r y manufacturers, and of course, the users of packaging like pharma companies, food manufacturers, producers of cosmetics and toiletries, engineering products, as well as exporters. Anything one has to move in the market, ultimately requires packaging,” explains Prof A A Joshi, Head of Training and Education, Indian Institute of Packaging.
However, careers in the packaging industry can be classified into some broad areas, namely Production, Research and Development and Marketing.

PRODUCTION

One of the largest areas in the packaging industry involves actual manufacture of packaging materials. User companies like FMCG or pharma manufacturers may require containers, boxes, bottles or other forms of packaging created. In these cases, personnel are required to oversee the actual manufactur ing process. Prof Joshi says, “Students could be put on the shop floor, managing production activities, in which case, one would require scientific knowledge about the material from which it is produced, like the melting point of plastic, for instance.”
Explaining how aspirants need to have an understanding of the technical and creative aspects, Prof Joshi says, “Aesthetics and appeal are important for most consumer products, and the scientific aspect is critical because the structure is designed after an understanding of the science and technology of packaging.”He adds,“Moreover, creative inputs like an easy-to-open cap or a pump that add to consumer convenience, can only come from an understanding of consumer needs.”

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Packaging research and development throws up many opportunities for aspirants. Packaging technologists design and develop packaging materials for all types of products, working with product manufacturers to develop packaging for new and existing products, which meet client specifications, are cost-effective and adhere to statutory and regulatory requirements covering that product.
It involves planning and developing new packages, or improving present packages to meet standards of quality,
function and cost and drawing detailed specifications and descriptive materials for new package ideas and ways to improve existing packages. These developments can be made on the suggestions of marketing personnel or existing market dynamics.
“Packaging is the right combination of both art and science,”declares R Krishnamurthy, Director, Positive Packaging, adding,“Technology is the need of the hour.With more and more products shedding the rigid clothing to flexibles, R&D plays a very key role in ensuring that the product demands are well met with the new flexible substrate(s) combination.To elaborate, product compatibility, barrier values, regarding moisture and oxygen permeability, are key considerations in ensuring the package is just right without resorting to over-specification.”
Today, there are many challenges that packaging developers have to consider,
including environmental and quality control concerns. An important area under research includes conducting necessary tests of new and improved packages and packaging materials.“If any container or packaging material is produced, it has to be determined whether it meets quality standards. Many students can find employment as quality control executives,”assures Prof Joshi.
Many user companies, namely manufacturers of products are heavily involved in research and development. “All user companies need to design, develop, and identify new packaging, so a lot of students get opportunities in design and development,”declares Prof Joshi, adding,“Also, for user companies, quality control is imperative, and many have positions for quality control executives to test potential packaging options.”
Krishnamurthy insists that for profiles like quality control and R&D,professionals with postgraduate qualifications with plastics as a major,find favour.He says,“A minimum graduation in science with additional qualification from the various recognised packaging institutes is preferred.”

MARKETING

Those involved in marketing in the packaging industry are concerned with marketing of new merchandise techniques and developing display materials of new packages or packaging changes. Prof Joshi elucidates,“Packaging has to be marketed to the user industry, ie, manufacturers.This requires complete technical knowledge of the materials used. Students should have a technical background, so that they can take this product to the potential user company and convince them how their product will be taken care of, if they use the right packaging.”

DESIGN AND BRAND IDENTITY

Packaging, is perhaps, most visible — and potent — in its role as a branding tool. All consumer products are packaged in a manner that is designed to fulfill the criteria of safety, convenience and attractiveness. Heightened competition in all product sectors within the country as also the increasing need to look for export markets have contributed to the rising demand for appropriate, and at the same time cost-effective, packaging material and technologies, that not only grab consumer attention but also ensure brand retention.
“Three seconds is all that the consumer has and packaging acts like your salesperson, when it is on a retail shelf,” avers Pooja Kewalramani, who has worked in the packaging industry for five years and is currently employed with Chlorophyll Brand and Communications
Consultancy. She adds,“The designing of a package is a specialised field. Designing includes aspects like colours, patterns etc, but also includes ergonomics, which basically concerns structures, like liquid pumps or spouts or the shape of the container, whether it is easy to hold, its functionality in terms of ease of use, as well as, convenience in displaying it on the shelf.”
Graphic designers have a major role to play in the brand identity of a product and work closely with packaging technologists to ensure the appearance of the packaging, where appropriate, is attractive to consumers and relates to company marketing and branding strategies for that product.
According to Pooja, designers need to have an art background from Sir JJ College of Art or any other reputed art college.

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Higher Study : PACKAGING INDUSTRY
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