Software developer Foundry has been creating visual effect sequences for feature films, video-on-demand, television and commercials for nearly 30 years, and has also taken its expertise to the packaging prototyping world. We speak to Derek Rathel, VP of Sales — Design to delve deeper into Foundry's work and the importance of engaging consumers at the point they are making their buying decisions.
ES: First of all, I was wondering if you’re fairly new to the packaging industry or if you’ve been working in that area for a while?
DR: Foundry is a powerhouse in the film and entertainment industry. For the last twenty years (give or take) most of the VFX Oscar winners have used our software to achieve their stunning results. Over time, major corporations (some in the CPG space) have also realized that Foundry’s products can help them visualize their designs in stunning detail and speed their time to market by dramatically reducing physical prototyping rounds.
ES: How does the experience and insights Foundry has gained in other industries feed into your packaging prototyping work?
DR: Another major vertical our products are utilized is Footwear and Accessories. One of the major challenges of that industry is reducing physical sample rounds. Not only do physical samples cost money and time, but each physical sample generates about 15 pounds (6.8 kg) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per shoe. By using our products, footwear brands have been able to reduce their design time by up to 90% by using virtual samples and reduce the associated GHG emissions of those eliminated physical samples.
This has greatly interested CPG brands. The design phase with its associated physical prototyping rounds are largely the same. When companies fully implement our 3D modeling and rapid iteration products, Modo and Colorway, you can rapidly iterate on your design and only need to create the final physical prototype. Beyond that, all your work can be done virtually and at a fraction of the time. The best news, you also eliminate all those physical samples and the associated carbon emissions.
ES: How would you summarise the advantages of using 3D modelling software vs standard CAD software?
DR: First things first, CAD is great at getting a technical understanding of your packaging design. But that is only half the picture. You also need to understand how your products will interact in the real world, stacked against your competitors. If you aren’t taking into account how your design will look online, on the store shelf, or in the consumer’s home, you’ll never achieve notably superiority over your competitors.
Take this as an example: With CAD software (left), you get a sense of the products dimensions and overall appearance, and get answers to questions such as: Is the label properly placed? Is the cap proportional to the body? Is the overall structure of the packaging as design intended?
But look at what the 3D render tells you (right). Yes, it tells you everything the CAD render does, but it also informs you on: What will the design look like in likely marketing scenarios? How does the light play with the overall packaging design? How does light interact with the label design? Will this design be appealing in this scenario?
ES: Have you observed a shift towards online and social media in shaping what products consumers buy vs spontaneous decisions in the shop?
DR: To set the stage: Most CPG companies have acknowledged that one of the first places consumers will interact with their products is online. Since interacting with a product on the store shelf is typically known as the “First Moment of Truth (FMOT),” most have started calling the first moment of online interaction as the “Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT).”
Capturing the attention of consumers in a ZMOT context is vital. Why? According to Google, over 80% of consumers will research a product before they purchase it. The typical consumer will visit, on average, ten online sources before making a decision. This means that brands have a tremendous opportunity to help consumers in their buying decisions. But it means being diligent to design for those online experiences and getting the imagery and brand information out into the wild so that consumers can interact with that messaging before they ever step foot in the store (FMOT) or navigate to an ecommerce store.
ES: How can 3D modelling speed up the packaging design process?
DR: One of the most expensive parts of the design process (from a time perspective) is the rounds of physical prototyping. The frustrating part is that most of the time spent is just waiting for the prototypes to be shipped or printed. But with 2.5D tools like Colorway, you can rapidly iterate on your designs and add variants with just the click of the plus button. From there, you can share your variations with all needed stakeholders, make revisions, and find your final design in a fraction of the time over traditional workflows. Not only can you cut your design time by up to 90%, you can also iterate on your design, in-context, by seeing it on a store shelf, in an Instagram post, or an Amazon product page. In this way you can design better and faster.
ES: From your position, what packaging design trends have you observed in 2020/2021?
DR: Since the pandemic, there has been an increased awareness of the need to design for e-commerce experiences. Obviously, the growth in online shopping was already well underway before the COVID-19 outbreak. But it has served as a catalyst in changing consumer behaviour. That said, designers are now needing to design their packaging for being displayed on smartphones and laptops in a range of ecommerce platforms. Having the tools, like Colorway, to help you easily visualize your designs in those contexts will be paramount.
Editor of Touchpoints magazine, writer for Packaging Europe magazine and design enthusiast!