We are the P&L owners of the brand!

Perspective - brand managers

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PSA: What is a brand manager’s role in designing a package and how important is the packaging of a product?
We write the complete packaging brief for the packaging team and are involved even up to the level of transporting the product. Packaging is extremely critical and the biggest component of consumer experience. It is the first point of contact a consumer has with the product, complete with the “touch and feel” element which is missing when you see an advertisement of the product on television.
There are a couple of elements which are extremely critical when we design a package. First, a package has to match the brand personality of a product. For example, Axe has a masculine and edgy brand personality. It’s important to decide what the marketing strategy is at the time of designing a pack.
A package can be clutter breaking, which means something that’s absolutely different and immediately grabs the customer’s attention. Coca-Cola India’s Sprite Xpress pack, a 350ml \’on-the-go\’ packaging innovation priced at Rs 15 launched in September 2008, is an example of a clutter breaking pack. It aimed to connect with the youth, who are always on the go and have no time to wait.
There are some product relaunches which are just around the package, like the Junior Horlicks Elephant pack. Some packages are even designed to tell a story around some break through science. The Bright red Boost package is designed to look energetic, athletic and inspiring.

There are even limited edition packages which are usually launched during festivals or just to get a blip in sales. For example Cadbury’s and Kurkure. According to me it is important that a package has some utility and can be used over a period of time like Pears which was sold in a soap dish for a while in between.
IPP:  Are brand managers aware of different packaging technologies?
Yes, it is very important that we keep ourselves informed about new packaging technology, basically because the technology used in packaging impacts our gross margins and as brand managers we are the P&L owners of the brand. There are also so many new things that can be done with new technology, which helps us remain competitive.

Clockwise from top: Coca-Cola India’s Sprite Xpress 350ml ‘on-the-go’ pack; Boost’s new pack and Horlicks elephant pack
Clockwise from top: Coca-Cola India’s Sprite Xpress 350ml ‘on-the-go’ pack; Boost’s new pack and Horlicks elephant pack

IPP: What are some of the issues a company can face with packaging?
One of the very common issues is panelling — when mandatory text on the package fades during transportation. To deal with issues like this we have to keep in close contact with our distribution team and sometimes hike transport costs to avoid damage and breakage. Even improper storage of a product ruins packages and we have to keep a check on this as well.
IPP: Is it true most brand managers today are women and why?
I am not sure if that statistic is true, but yes many brand managers today are women. I personally believe it maybe because it is easier for a woman to get closest to a day in the life of her target consumer and understand the real pulse of the customer and what is it that he looks for in a product.
I actually have a blown up image of my target consumer in my cabin and while I design my marketing strategy or a package design I look at that picture and ask myself what is it that he/she would want and it usually helps come up with a strategy.
IPP: What comes to your mind when you think of a really good package? What are the factors you consider most important in a package?
About three years back Bru launched a stand up pouch with a locking system, which made the package easy to use and store and the locking system made the pack air tight. This kind of packaging at the time was way ahead of its time and extremely successful.
I think it is extremely important that a package is attractive and it stands out. It must add value to the consumer and must be of some utility.