Neil Kozarsky of T.H.E.M. Takes a Look at Packaging Professionals and the Social Order
Want to know the level of recognition and respect packaging professionals, like myself, receive? Think about the last cocktail party you attended. The moment of truth comes when that most basic of all class-defining questions is asked. “So what do you do for a living?”
Each time we say the word “packaging” it seems that most party guests sidestep toward that “must-have” appetizer across the room, or suddenly realize that their drinks need refilling.
And yet we know how essential our role is in society. So who do we have to blame for this lack of esteem? I think a large amount of the responsibility rests on our own shoulders. As a possible solution, I am suggesting a coming together of the disparate forces within our industry that have been fragmented for too long.
Right now in the mind of the average consumer, there is no packaging industry. Many believe that the product manufacturer is responsible for the product’s packaging. Others merely think of brown bags and boxes when they hear the word “packaging.” Some only put packaging professionals into four major commodity groups: glass, metal, plastics and film.
One problem is that there are no industry giants in packaging that serve to epitomize or represent the industry as a whole. Another problem is that the industry makes no real effort to promote or explain itself.
Sure we have good trade associations. But they each represent different segments of our industry. Instead of one voice, there are competing voices with their own messages.
Yes, the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) has beefed up its image and awareness effort, but it only represents a tiny portion of the packaging industry. Then there’s the Institute of Packaging Professional (IoPP), the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI), the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA), the Western Aerosol Information Bureau (WAIB), the Tube Council, the Society of Cosmetic Chemists (SCC), and on and on. Individually they do a great job of supporting membership interests. But when it comes to the image of the entire industry, it can be argued that the individualized messages do more harm than good.
So let us imagine for a moment a world in which packaging has one voice. It is possible. All it would take is the coming together of our current industry factions, with a single-minded purpose. And it will happen. It’s simply up to you and me to make it happen sooner rather than later.
Neil Kozarsky is the president and CEO of T.H.E.M. (Technical Help in Engineering and Marketing). T.H.E.M. provides innovative packaging solutions to major food, beverage and healthcare organizations on a global basis. Kozarsky is a graduate of Hobart/William Smith Colleges and attended the Rutgers Center for Package Engineering. Kozarsky has authored numerous articles for leading packaging publications and is a featured presenter at conferences on an international basis.
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