From the editor

Beautiful curves.

March 1, 2010
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Last week, the Campbell Soup Company went on the record with their use of bio-sensory research, telling the Wall Street Journal how they're measuring microscopic changes in people's skin moisture, heart rate, and other biometrics to implement a redesign of their condensed soup labels.



Last week, the Campbell Soup Company went on the record with their use of bio-sensory research, telling the Wall Street Journal how they're measuring microscopic changes in people's skin moisture, heart rate, and other biometrics to implement a redesign of their condensed soup labels. The article sparked lots of discussion. To some, it was "pseudo" science that would put a damper on good design. Others rebutted, saying that biosensory research was just one method in Campbell's complex research portfolio. The debate will likely go on, though, as marketers scramble to extract insights from the major societal shifts happening right before our eyes (and use new research methods to do so).

What struck me in all of this, though, wasn't the argument over methodologies...but that packaging is finally getting a chance to prove its effectiveness. Indeed, the WSJ article revealed Campbell's view that other marketing tools are falling short:

For years, Campbell's researchers asked consumers whether they remembered an ad and whether it made them more likely to buy a product. But a 2005 Campbell analysis revealed that, overall, ads deemed more effective in surveys had little relation to changes in Campbell sales.

So, as packaging is given the spotlight to, hopefully, offer a better read, how will the profession earn respect from marketers and corporate executives, and ultimately prove its effectiveness? Consider that famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy, who created everything from cigarette packs and refrigerators to cars and spacecrafts, said that his discipline earned respect only once he showed business leaders the practical benefits of functional styling. "The most beautiful curve is a rising sales graph," he's noted as saying. And I think that's a great place to start.

So, what say you? Will ROI pressures put a damper on innovation? Will they kill good ideas and good design? How should the industry address the issue of effectiveness in package design?

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