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It’s often been said that innovation is the lifeblood of any CPG manufacturer. Without a deep pipeline of new product SKUs, it can be hard to garner the excitement of retailers and consumers and fight off the inevitable encroachment of private label.

But regularly rolling out new product forms and flavors can be costly and a risk that most brands don’t have the stomach for.

I’ve recently noticed a few brands have been able to innovate, without changing their product at all.

Kleenex Packaging & Triscuit Packaging
Bless You

For years, the biggest facial tissue manufacturers have counted on new designs and photos printed on their boxes to attract consumers at shelf. The challenge for them was always printing an endless variety of trendy colors and patterns in the hopes that they’d match the décor of the room in which they’d be placed. “Will this one match my couch in the living room? Will this one blend in in the bathroom?”

But in 2009, Kleenex brand tissues issued an innovative new box that is nothing to, um, sneeze at. First they changed the shape of the box, from a rectangle with six sides to a triangular five sided wedge. They then went a step further and printed replicated slices of fruit on each one – including watermelon, lime, and orange “flavors”.

And to top it all off they introduced the entire line in the season that tissue is consumed the least – summer.

In making these simple changes to the product packaging they were able to transform the tissue box from something consumers hid under a cover or hoped blended in with their surroundings to a product that was displayed with pride and indeed became a topic of conversation (and blog posts). The new themed line of tissues also helped boost sales during a typically slow sales period.

All this without touching the contents of the box.

Taking a Cue From Popcorn

Nabisco recently made a similarly innovative change to its Triscuit brand Thin Crisps packaging. Thin Crisps were introduced a few years ago in the same rectangular shaped box as original Triscuits. In theory, the triangular “eat-‘em-plain” flavored snack crackers are intended to be an alternative to tortilla or potato chips. Although the shallow depth package was fine for pouring crackers onto a cheese plate, it was not conducive to repeatedly reaching in and out the box to grab one Thin Crisp at a time.

The new “snack box” was introduced a few months ago, and will likely breathe new life into the product’s trial. It is deeper front to back to accommodate hands reaching in, but also wider at the top like a popcorn box – which supports the product’s snack positioning. The face, sides, and back of the box are also scored (creased) down the middle, so that when the top is unfastened, the rectangular opening transforms into an octagon, making it even wider.

And at shelf (the moment of truth), the new box shape telegraphs that this Triscuit is different than the original.

You Don’t Need Wholesale Change to Innovate

There’s a lot you can do to catch the attention of consumers without a whole lot of R&D into breakthrough product forms and exotic new flavors. Although it’s not free, changing your packaging is a great place to start.

Other areas to consider might be product pairings (Jif peanut butter tastes even better on Wonder bread), meal solutions (Fresh Express salad coupon on a Campbell’s soup can), limited editions (Doritos retro taco), and seasonal offerings (McDonalds McRib sandwich).

Bronson S
Bronson S
Partner and Co-Creative Director

Bronson is a highly recognized creative director and art director who has created award winning print and broadcast campaigns for both local and national advertisers. He got his first taste of advertising at Della Femina McNamee/Pittsburgh where, as an assistant art director, he worked on Pittsburgh Brewing Company's Iron City and I.C. Light Beer campaigns, Stouffers Frozen foods and LaCroix beverages.

A few years later, Bronson departed Pittsburgh for Parsons School of design and a two-year stint as an art director at Young & Rubicam/Paris. There, he developed a taste for strong, black coffee and worked on campaigns for American Express, Kodak, Smirnoff and Virgin Megastores. After Paris, Bronson (no longer sporting a beret) joined Lindsey at Avrett Free & Ginsberg in New York City to work on campaigns for Meow Mix, Johnnie Walker Black Label, Crayola, Clairol, Mistic Beverages and George Dickel Whiskey.

Before co-founding Smith Brothers, Bronson served as vice president, chief creative officer at US Interactive (USI) where he supervised and produced corporate identities and ad campaigns for adidas, Columbia House, Comedy Central, The National Football League, Sprint Business, RCA, Unum Insurance, Deloitte & Touche and Martha Stewart.
Bronson holds a BFA degree from Ohio Wesleyan University.