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How Social Media is Changing the Packaging Industry

How Social Media is Changing the Packaging Industry

Social media is changing just about everything about the way brands market themselves — including packaging design.


Highlights:

  • Packaging is a valuable content channel.
  • Brands need to make packaging design decisions with an eye to how they read in thumbnail images.
  • Use scalable imagery and optimize form function, color pallet, and font for user-generated social media content.

Social media has had an impact on just about everything in our lives, and the packaging industry is no exception. Have you ever considered that packaging is a form of content? In fact, the packaging design of goods is yet another opportunity for the delivery of branded content that engages buyers with brands.

The packaging design of goods is yet another opportunity for the delivery of branded content that engages buyers with brands. Click To Tweet

Furthermore, in this environment where the lines between the digital and material worlds are increasingly blurred, savvy marketers are making sure that packaging aligns with online branded content, creating a cohesive consumer experience. As Mark Hewitt of SGK puts it, “By using the pack as media, brands can create a long-term content journey that builds over time.”

These days, social media is one of the biggest influencers in brands’ packaging design, as marketers continue to harness the power of instantly identifiable packaging.

Three ways social media is shaping the packaging industry

The beauty industry is just one example of where social media is revolutionizing the way marketers are conceiving of packaging design. This is an industry where aesthetic appeal has long been a big part of how beauty products were packaged, but brands have shifted their perspective in light of social media’s impact.

Says beauty branding and product design consultant Rinat Aruh, “We used to use the lens of: How do we design to create an impact on shelves? But now, we design for the thumbnail, which really changes some of the choices we make.”

So how are brands adapting their packaging? Paul Nowak, senior director of sales strategy and business development at QuadPackaging, has identified these three key factors.

1)      Scalable imagery

We live in a mobile world. Images on social media are overwhelmingly viewed on mobile devices, and it’s crucial for designers to take this into account when making packaging decisions. Designs need to grab attention from the thumbnail, as Aruh alluded to. “This means that before designers finalize the packaging form and the brand design of the creative components, they need to add a step that tests the image on social media platforms and views them on a smartphone, not a desktop,” says Nowak.

2)      Form function

Packaging designers have traditionally taken into account form in making design decision. At every phase of the supply chain, it needs to safeguard the product and express the brand and function. But when you put social media into the equation, form decisions take on a new dimension, as many consumer products are exclusively recognizable in social media posts by their packaging.

Nowak uses the example of consumer products like hand lotion. The decision to package the product in “a small tube, a large pump, or an elegant jar all convey different aspects of the brand experience and function of the packaging.”

3)      Color pallet and font

As with form function, color and font decisions have always been key factors for packaging design. But these days, decisions about these design elements aren’t about what catches the eye on a shelf or even on a brand website.

Brands need to make decisions about color and font with an eye toward how they play on social media. This often means a simpler approach, making packaging clean and easily identifiable, even from a thumbnail. “Forward-thinking designers will add a social media test in their design phase to assure brand recognition in all media channels,” says Nowak.

What does the future hold?

If we know one thing about social media and how it impacts the marketing landscape, it’s that change is going to be pretty much constant. Brands need to continue approaching packaging as a valuable media channel and an opportunity to engage with consumers.

In addition to optimizing packaging for the user-generated content on social media, we’re seeing a rise of “connected” packaging. From Snap and Facebook codes, savvy marketers are recognizing the power of packaging design as nexus of the digital and material worlds.

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Top 6 Robotics Blogs for Industry News, Trends, and Insights

Top 6 Robotics Blogs for Industry News, Trends, and Insights

These 6 robotics blogs are our favorite reads for gathering information, analyzing issues, and staying current in an industry that is rapidly changing every day.


Highlights:

  • Follow these 6 blogs for the latest on the robotics industry.
  • Featuring a variety of expert perspectives analyzing issues and trends
  • Get everything from the big headlines to niche opinion pieces

It’s not easy keeping pace with the latest developments in robotics, an industry where changes are happening swiftly and often. Not only that, sorting through masses of media sites and conversations to find informed, up-to-date coverage of these changes can be utterly overwhelming.

Luckily, there are places where you can find the kind of information and analysis you need. These 6 robotics blogs are on our reading list — and we think they should be on yours, too. Here, you’ll find blogs that focus completely on covering news, trends, and issues within the robotics industry.

Top 6 robotics blogs for industry news, trends, and insights

1.      Robohub

Robohub covers all things robotics, drawing from a dedicated global community and featuring many different perspectives including robotics research, start-ups, business, and education. It’s one of the more prolific blogs in the industry, sometimes publishing several posts per day.

If you’re looking for timely information presented thoughtfully by knowledgeable people in the industry, start with Robohub. Click To Tweet

Robohub describes itself as “more than just an online robotics news site.” If you’re looking for timely information presented thoughtfully by knowledgeable people in the industry, start with Robohub.

2.      Robotics.org

The Robotics Industries Association’s online presence, Robotics.org, has both a news stream, which releases the latest from the robotics industry, and an Industry Insights stream, where you can find expert analysis of the latest issues. The site posts frequently and is a great go-to for the big news in the industry, as well as some insightful analysis.

3.      RoboGlobal News

When you’re looking for a quick rundown of the latest headlines in robotics, as well as occasional posts offering deeper insights, RoboGlobal is a great resource. It explores “the rapidly evolving universe of Robotics, Automation, and Artificial Intelligence” from an investment perspective, making it a great resource for businesses. RoboGlobal tracks trends in robotics stocks, while the News blog examines overall trends in the industry.

4.      Robotics Business Review

The Robotics Business Review describes itself as “the largest, most comprehensive online robotics news and information resource.” It generally posts several times a day, about all aspects of the business of robotics — including AI, manufacturing, the supply chain, drones, health care, CRO, and more. The posts that are publicly viewable are only short abstracts — to see complete articles, you must pay a yearly membership fee.

5.      The Robot Report

Headed up by roboticist Frank Tobe, The Robot Report follows the business of robotics and reports regularly on developments from across the industry, including academia and research, technologies, design and development, markets, and investments. Tobe is also the co-founder of Robo-Stox, which is now Robo-Global, a tracking index for the robotics industry. He brings this perspective to the articles he curates and authors.

6.      Robotics Industry News, Applications, and Trends at Robotiq

Robotiq posts news stories weekly about the robotics industry. The majority of their coverage focuses on collaborative robots and the technical issues surrounding robotic grasping, force sensing, and robot vision — since they manufacture grippers, force sensors, and cameras. However, they additionally post about robotic fundamentals and offer industry insights.

Which robotics blogs are you following?

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Infographic: 10 Companies that Are Getting Instagram for B2B Marketing Right

Infographic: 10 Companies that Are Getting Instagram for B2B Marketing Right

Need some Instagram for B2B marketing inspiration? These ten brands are getting it right.


Highlights

  • Instagram is a great opportunity for B2B businesses.
  • Avoiding blatant sales or advertising pushes is key.
  • Successful accounts engage users with interesting visuals and/or provide them with value through informative content.

Instagram now boasts over 1 billion monthly active users, making it one of the most popular social media platforms out there. It’s a tremendous opportunity for businesses. In fact, recent research has shown that 66% of brands now use Instagram.

But many B2B marketers are still struggling to find their footing on this highly visual platform. Since we could all use a little inspiration now and then, here are 10 brands that are crushing Instagram for B2B marketing — and what we like about their presence.

10 brands that are nailing Instagram for B2B marketing

B2B Instagram Accounts

1)      Adobe

With 681k followers, Adobe (@adobe) is a fortunate brand when it comes to Instagram in that its product naturally lends itself to the visual medium. Its account boasts some truly stunning visuals, highlighting what Adobe products can create.

2)      Intel

The tech giant Intel (@intel) cultivates a celebrity-style image, giving its over-a-million followers an inside glimpse into big events the brand plays a role in, like the X Games, Grammys, and glitzy tech conferences. Each of the carefully curated images reinforces the brand’s voice, and captions do a great job of detailing exactly what the brand does in the tech space.

3)      Hootsuite

Social media management dashboard Hootsuite (@hootsuite) does a fantastic job of showing brands their social media know-how, right in its Instagram profile. The company cultivates a casual, friendly image and posts content that demonstrates company culture. From team building photos to office dogs, Hootsuite makes followers feel like they’re getting to know the brand.

4)      CBRE

Global commercial real estate firm CBRE (@cbre) is a phenomenal example of finding beauty within the context of its operations. The brand’s Instagram feed features a stunning array of architecture from around the world, with clever use of hashtags.

5)      HubSpot

Here’s a company getting content Instagram for B2B marketing right. HubSpot (@hubspot) consistently provides value to followers, posting informational content. Rather than letting it get boring, the brand keeps content visually appealing and makes clever use of captioning and video.

6)      IBM

Tech juggernaut IBM (@ibm) has made highly effective use of reactive storytelling on Instagram. This method of storytelling combines a top-of-mind story or idea with a compelling marketing message. IBM uses it during popular or inspiring events, demonstrating how it’s making use of the brand’s technology.

7)      General Electric

It’s a household name brand, and it’s over a century old. General Electric’s (@generalelectric) Instagram presences does a great job of leveraging the brand’s history, highlighting its involvement with important developments in defense, aviation, and technology. It’s a great example of creating a powerful voice from a brand through storytelling and tapping into the audience’s nostalgia.

8)      FedEx

FedEx (@fedex) is a prime example of a B2B brand that makes the absolute most of what it does to create a compelling story for its Instagram content. The account features photos of airplanes and trucks all over the world, telling the story of how the carrier cares for and ships products in its care.

9)      HP

With over a million followers HP (@hp) cultivates a sleek, design-minded brand image on Instagram. It capitalizes on subtlety and style, with eclectic images that never feel overtly promotional but that highlight the brand’s innovation.

10)  Mailchimp

Email marketing company Mailchimp (@mailchip) truly gets the most out of its whimsical logo. Its Instagram content has given the playful chimp logo life and transformed him into a personality and voice for the brand. The image is quirky and fun, and Mailchimp’s Instagram presence reinforces and capitalizes on that.

What companies do you think are doing Instagram for B2B marketing right?

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How Rogue Ales is Leveraging IoT to Revolutionize the Beer Brewing Industry

How Rogue Ales is Leveraging IoT to Revolutionize the Beer Brewing Industry

Rogue Ales believes that their “Ground to Glass, Grow your Own Revolution” is a key tenet to their success. The company leverages the Internet of Things (IoT) to ensure that their supply chain is able to deliver the highest-quality ingredients to their breweries just in time.


Highlights:

  • Consumer desire for freshness and high quality is influencing the beer brewing industry.
  • Rogue Ales owns Rogue Farms giving the brewery a unique advantage in being able to produce specialty ingredients.
  • The Internet of Things has enabled Rogue to capture and act on the data surrounding their supply chains.

Rogue Ales, headquartered in Newport, OR, is an alcoholic beverage company founded in 1988 that produces beer, wine, cider, and distilled spirits. Their ales have won over 1,800 awards at various brewing competitions.

Rogue’s brewing operation is unique in that the company’s subsidiary, Rogue Farms (founded in 2008), grows all of the ingredients used. The company believes that their “Ground to Glass, Grow your Own Revolution” is a key tenet to their success. Rogue Ales leverages the Internet of Things (IoT) to ensure that their supply chain is able to deliver the highest-quality ingredients to their breweries just in time.

The trend toward freshness

According to AT Kearney, 93% of consumers consider freshness to be the most important criterion when purchasing foods. According to the USDA, the sale of organic foods in the U.S. has more than tripled from approximately $12B in 2005 to over $35B in 2015 (data for 2016-2018 was not immediately available).

US Organic Food Sales

Consumer desire for freshness and high quality is influencing the beer brewing industry. According to the American Brewers Association, the number of craft breweries in the United States has increased from 122 in 1973 to over 6,300 in 2017.

number of craft breweries

As the competition between breweries intensifies, brewers are constantly looking for key ways to differentiate their beers from their competitors in this $111.4B market. Most beer sales are through microbreweries (defined as a brewery producing less than 15,000 barrels per year and at least 75% of beer sold off-site via distributors or wholesalers). Rogue Ales has made freshness a key value-add differentiator for its brand, selling over 325,000 gallons in 2016. In a Market Watch article, Rogue’s president, Brett Joyce, says:

What it means is that we have to get better all the way around. The quality has to go up. Just having products isn’t enough. You better have a strategic plan to go to market, retailer support, good follow-up and good sales people. It’s a real business now.

With the establishment of Rogue Farms in 2008, Rogue began producing their own ingredients, breaking tradition with most breweries, who acquire ingredients from traditional wholesalers. Rogue has a 52-acre hop farm, located approximately two hours from the brewery, where it produces its entire hop supply. Rogue states that:

Growing hops is an expensive and time-consuming endeavor, but it also helps to guarantee our supply and quality while allowing us to keep our Brewmaster, John ‘More Hops’ Maier, happy with unique, aromatic hops.

The control Rogue Ales has over Rogue Farms gives the brewery a unique advantage in being able to produce specialty ingredients for its core and specialty beers. At Rogue Farms, Rogue grows or produces:

  • 10 varieties of hops
  • Two varieties of malting barley
  • Rye
  • Pumpkins
  • Marionberries
  • Jalapeños
  • Honey

The challenges of using fresh “wet” hops in beer

A basic beer recipe only has four ingredients: malted barley, water, hops, and yeast. Of these ingredients, hops are the most difficult to source, store, and transport due to their perishability. Most brewers use pelletized, dried, hop pellets. Rogue uses fresh (or “wet”) hops in their ales, harvested from Rogue Farms. Fresh hops give their beer a fresher taste, as the hops’ aromatic qualities are not damaged by drying and pelletization.

Fresh hops, once harvested, must land in a brew vat within 12 hours and cannot be exposed to excessive heat, air, or humidity during transport or their volatile aroma compounds will degrade and produce aromas of “skunk” and “compost”. To ensure the highest quality of hops, Rogue has turned to technology to ensure that its supply chain is delivering the freshest possible hops to the brewery.

Using the Internet of Things to build quality into Rogue’s supply chain

The vertical integration of Rogue Ales and Rogue Farms gives Rogue a unique advantage in being able to leverage new technologies to ensure it sources the highest quality ingredients possible directly from their farm to their brewery. Rogue Ales uses Intel’s Connected Logistics Platform to manage its hops supply chain. Intel’s platform is a logistics management solution that couples Internet of things (IoT) devices with a cloud-based data analytics system. These IoT devices are one-time-use sensor tags that attach to shipments and collect data (e.g. temperature, humidity, location, etc.). This data is sent over a proprietary wireless protocol to a central server where the data is aggregated and analyzed in real time.

The Internet of Things has enabled companies like Rogue to capture and act on the data surrounding their supply chains. Companies are able to make smart decisions that bring cost savings and flow directly to their bottom line. Click To Tweet

The system tracks shipments and collects data during every facet of the supply chain, ensuring that quality thresholds are maintained and any problems with the shipped goods can be immediately corrected (for example, if one of the trucks runs into traffic, the others can be intelligently rerouted). It is estimated that 30% of all perishable products shipped in the United States become spoiled during their journey from the farm.

After the wet hops are picked, Rogue attaches three trackers to each shipment: at the top, middle, and bottom of the bale of hops. These trackers measure temperature, humidity, and location. Rogue can ensure that the hops have been kept in the proper environment and that they have not spent too much time in transit.

If a shipment does not meet quality standards, it can be discarded before it is used in a beer batch, reducing waste and ensuring that Rogue does not waste its precious brewing capacity brewing beer that will later need to be dumped for quality reasons. The location of the shipment is updated every ten minutes, and once the hops have reached the halfway point, Rogue starts the brewing process. This ensures that the hops arrive just in time and go directly from the truck into the brewing kettle.

The Internet of Things has enabled companies like Rogue to capture and, more importantly, act on the data surrounding their supply chains. Companies are able to make smart decisions that bring cost savings and flow directly to their bottom line.

This article was written by Zachary Richards, an MBA student at the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire. Zach is a Software Engineer at Pegasystems, Inc., where he specializes in back-end Java development, data structures, and agile development practices. He graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2016 with a B.S. in Computer Science.

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5 Tips to Boost SEO for Supply Chain Marketers

5 Tips to Boost SEO for Supply Chain Marketers

Search engines are constantly changing, but these 5 tips will ensure that supply chain marketers can boost SEO in 2019. 


Highlights

  • People are changing how they search, and search engines are adapting accordingly.
  • Simple changes to the structure of your site can have a big impact on your search engine rankings.
  • Sites rich in quality content, like blogs and video, are poised to rank high for relevant search queries.

If there’s one constant when it comes to writing to boost Search Engine Optimization (SEO), it’s change. As users change the way they search online, search engines are continually adapting their algorithms to meet their needs. While it’s easy to get overwhelmed, it’s important for supply chain marketers to stay up-to-date and adapt their content strategy to boost SEO.

The year is just getting into full swing, and it’s a great time for savvy marketers to look ahead and make strategic decisions for SEO in 2019. These five tips will help you get ahead of the curve.

5 ways to boost SEO in 2019

1)      Cluster content

Gone are the days of keyword rankings. Rather than prioritizing keyword focus, search engines have shifted to rewarding sites that produce strong content and arrange it in focused, niche topics.

Cluster content, a method of on-site SEO, might sound daunting. But it doesn’t require reinventing the wheel, just changing the structure of your site. For a detailed look at topic clusters and pillar content, check out part three of our four part series on writing for SEO.

We’ll give you the short version here: Select several core topics that most closely align with your brand, and reflect the knowledge you have to share. Evaluate your existing content, and categorize it based on which core topic or topics it falls under. Going forward, keep these core topics top of mind when planning and creating content. Next, arrange your site to reflect core topics with content clustered and linked from pillar pages.

2)      Use header tags

As they become more and more sophisticated, search engines increasingly mirror human preferences. It doesn’t take an expert to tell you that text is more accessible to the eye when broken up by relevant subheadings — and search engines are no different. Headings make your text easier to skim and allow search engines to pick out content relevant to search queries.

Subheadings make your site more visually appealing, orienting readers and providing structure within your content. Remember that you’re creating headings for the dual purpose of guiding readers and optimizing for search engines. For this reason, stick to headings that are short and informative, reflecting the content below them, rather than teasing your readers with click-baity phrases.

Stick to headings that are short and informative, reflecting the content below them, rather than teasing your readers with click-baity phrases. Click To Tweet

3)      Blog

This one is evergreen. We’ve been writing for years about how blogging is crucial for supply chain companies, for all kinds of reasons — not the least of which is SEO. If increased lead generation and site engagement isn’t reason enough, you should know that blogging is one of the best ways to boost SEO.

A blog is your space for high-quality content that’s fresh, well-researched, and relevant. If you’re choosing your topics based on the needs and preferences of your target audience, chances are, you’re creating content that is perfectly aligned to search engine queries.

4)      Make sure your page speed is high

Page speed is crucial for boosting SEO. If your page is loading slowly, Google logs it, and your ranking suffers. Not only that, visitors who do click on your site will be frustrated and turn away.

In fact, research shows that 40% of visitors will abandon sites where the page takes longer than three seconds to load.

One of the best ways to improve page speed is to switch to HTTP/2. If you haven’t already, switching your site from HTTP/1.1 (which has been the norm since 1999) is crucial. HTTP/2 was first published in 2015, with the goal establishing a faster, more secure internet. Search Engine Journal has published this great guide to HTTP/2, where you can learn more about the benefits, and how to switch.

5)      Video

We’ve been talking about the benefits of video for a while now. Having video on your landing page will robustly improve your SEO. Video increases conversion rates, improves bounce rates, and boosts overall time on sites.

Search engines use bounce rate to rank pages — a low bounce rate and high user retention rate are indicators of strong content and high relevance to your target audience. Consequently, Google is strongly emphasizing these metrics in its ranking algorithm. Video keeps users on your site better than just about anything else and is therefore one of the most effective ways to boost SEO.

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Use Social Media to Enhance Supply Chain Transparency

Use Social Media to Enhance Supply Chain Transparency

Transparency in your supply chain through social media outlets can give a look inside your company in a way that your customers are craving.


Highlights:

  • Customers have been demanding more visibility into supply chains of the products they purchase.
  • Through social channels like  Twitter , LinkedIn , and Facebook, companies are greatly enhancing  their two-way communication with customers and sharing information with their stakeholders.
  • The top reason that supply chain companies are choosing to participate in social media is to increase the visibility of their company.

Supply chain management is such a complicated web of factors that most companies choose to keep operations behind the scenes and unveil a finished product with an intense marketing roll-out.

But what if that’s backwards and an outdated approach to marketing? (Hint: It is.)

The complexity of supply chain management

There is no question that SCM can be deeply and frustratingly complex. Consider TechTarget’s definition of SCM:  “the broad range of activities required to plan, control and execute a product’s flow, from acquiring raw materials and production through distribution to the final customer, in the most streamlined and cost-effective way.”

With so much intense analysis at every step, the details your  supply chain management (SCM) team considers can seem endless, and the impressive knowledge they hold is certainly not something most people can understand.

Or can they? What if that mindset – the one that thinks that your SCM is so complex that it wouldn’t interest or be able to be grasped by your customers – is wrong?

In fact, what if it’s so wrong that you are missing something important? Customers today want to understand your supply chain.

Transparency in your supply chain

A common misconception is that most customers are interested in a final product. Of course, your final product better be outstanding, but there are other factors fueling today’s buyers, business-to-business (B2B) customers included.

For a few years now, customers have been demanding more visibility into supply chains of the products they purchase.  For example, they want to ensure sustainable practices around the earth’s scarce resources, to know where their food is sourced, and to confirm ethical pay and conditions for any laborers involved. B2B buyers are no exception. They want their vendors to be more than just a final product too, and are constantly searching for value outside the sales funnel.

Transparency with social media

What if you shared what fueled your daily SCM decisions with your customers, stakeholders, and suppliers? Not every last complex detail…but some of them, and the intangibles too:

  •  What drives SCM decisions besides cost?
  • Who is your SC team?
  • Where are you sourcing?
  • Why do you do things as you do during production?

Transparency of SCM through social media outlets can give a look inside your company in a way that your customers are craving.  Through social channels like  Twitter LinkedIn , and Facebook, companies are greatly enhancing  their two-way communication with customers and sharing information with their stakeholders.

Of course, the benefits of social media to SCM don’t stop there.The supply chain needs social media for enhanced customer communication, increased industry education, and an ability to socially monitor the market. Social media has the capability to empower your supply chain in multiple ways.

According to a survey we conducted, the top reason that supply chain companies are choosing to participate in social media is to increasing the visibility of their company (95%). Don’t simply focus on your final product(s) and leave out your supply chain! When you make your supply chain transparent to your customers and stakeholders, everyone wins.

This post originally appeared on EBN Online.

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