By Nishat Jones
Nishat Jones is a results-oriented marketing leader with 20 years of experience in strategic marketing, integrated communications, and project management. She has demonstrated the ability to lead teams, engage stakeholders in program development, and work simultaneously across multiple brands, customer segments, and geographies. Nishat joined Victory Packaging in April of 2014 and currently serves as the Director of Marketing. She has also been a member of CMO Panel since 2010. AMA Houston recently asked her a few questions about her unique perspective as a packaging marketer.
How is marketing different or unique for your organization?
In the packaging world, we work directly with brand owners and companies to grow their brand. They see marketing as an integral part of their packaging supply chain. For example, some of our largest clients are from the automotive industry. From simple screws to automobile bumpers, each part has to be packaged to protect the parts through to distribution. We have a broad range of needs—from individualized micro-packaging materials to large-scale boxes to ship complete systems. Our packaging has to take into consideration both retail and wholesale, as well as distribution channels, an escalating focus on sustainability, and ultimately, branding all of it. Many people are surprised to hear that we employ a large engineering and design team to develop customized solutions. Nothing in our world is cookie cutter.
The food and beverage industry is another key industry for us. Think about the huge difference in packaging fresh salmon compared to a chocolate bar. We have to consider everything from appeal, to safety, to the logistics of getting these products—often heated or refrigerated—across the country or the world. We first have to look at the criticalities of packaging the product itself, and later how we will brand the product in the additional packaging that surrounds it. We have to consider the level of uniqueness required on everything from a micro-scale packaging to large-scale boxes.
What areas of marketing do you think will be key in the future?
Top of mind for us is interactive content, and this goes hand-in-hand with personalization. Years ago when QR codes came out, we all saw an opportunity, then they sort of died down; they are back again and we are using them for smart packaging to understand where a product came from and all points along the journey to its destination. Amid growing concerns around health and safety, we are seeing this more and more. Manufacturers are driving this trend as they want to differentiate themselves from the competition and build confidence with consumers. This trend will almost certainly grow with the Gen Y and Z’s desire to understand where their food comes from. It’s on the horizon now.
There is also the “unboxing experience” to think about. Receiving a package has become an “experience” because of how it was all put together. This is something we didn’t think about 10 years ago, but it is trending upward today for sure. Conversely, we have to consider the “porch grabbers,” so keeping the branding experience going, but protecting the product in the meanwhile, presents an added nuance. This need for safety could derail or change how we do things, so we have to remain flexible and adaptable to what comes next.
Other areas I see in an upward trend for us—virtual and augmented reality, more robust video content, and artificial intelligence. We’re not there yet with all of this, but it’s coming.
I’d like to add that traditional marketing is alive and well…conferences for example. We are seeing smaller, more targeted events growing. These smaller events attract our decision-makers and enable us to have more one-on-one intimate meet and greets. And we are tailoring our approach in advance, so we understand what’s needed before we ever get there.
It is still “hold, touch, feel” in our world.