Based on comments and feedback on last week’s post, it’s obvious I hit a nerve in discussing how packaging creates sustainability in other ways than just reducing packaging mass. It’s somewhat timely. I attended TLMI’s annual meeting last week. Coincidentally (or prescient thanks to the conference chair and great business leader, Ingrid Brase), the conference centered around marketing. One of the speakers asked the audience to rank our industry from 1 – 10 on marketing. I think the consensus came out around a 3. The good news is we’re honest about being horrible marketers. The bad news is we are horrible marketers. As Peter Drucker said and I’ve written before, there are two ways to grow a business: marketing and innovating. We’re pretty good as an industry in innovating. We’re not good at telling the story.
I’ve been scratching my head at how we better tell our story. I give our industry association, TLMI, credit for forming L.I.F.E. (Label Initiative For the Environment). I.D. Images is L.I.F.E. certified. We feel good about it and try to market it. When I Google Project L.I.F.E, labels don’t show up on at least the first 3 pages – I gave up after that. Obviously, the label industry isn’t doing a good job marketing what we’re doing. (This is not an indictment on TLMI or TLMI’s marketing committee – there’s only so much that can be done by one organization that is driven by volunteer members. ) There’s FSC, SFI, SPC, and a whole laundry list of acronyms printers and packagers like to talk about. Guess what? They matter to us, not our customers and certainly not in the consumer world. We need to try something different. I think as an industry we can.
My friend, Rosalyn Bandy, Avery Dennison’s sustainability manager, responded to my blog last week. Part of her comments were: “Recently, Coke, Colgate, Keurig – GMCR, J&J, P&G, Pepsi, Unilever, and Walmart all put money into a pool of funds called the Closed Loop Fund. This fund will provide no-interest loans to municipalities (up to $20MM) looking to increase/improve recycling infrastructure. These companies are hitting the problem where it counts. Our job in the label industry is to understand the impacts on recycling of the films, papers, labels and adhesives we produce and do our part to make these leading CPGs and retailers successful in their efforts. There is already enough plastic in the world for all time. We just need to recycle it.” Note how traditional rivals are banding together to tell their story.
How about we do a similar thing and band together to MARKET the great things we’ve done for sustainability? We need to keep in mind sustainability isn’t just reducing basis weight or recycling card board. It’s reducing freight, reducing food waste, etc. Of course, we’ll need to come up with a catchy acronym to name ourselves (sarcasm intended). I think there’s an opportunity to band together and tell our story as an industry. Collectively, we’ve done and continue to do great things. We need to let people know. If you are interested in joining me on this quest, let me know. We’ll figure it out.