Wednesday, August 31, 2011

2011 Annual Shareholders Meeting

Pictured: Chief Financial Officer Jon Biro
Last week was the 2011 Consolidated Graphics Annual Shareholders’ Meeting, and as always it was quite an event. The Grand Ballroom at the Hilton Americas in downtown Houston was filled with guests, including shareholders, Leadership Development Program (LDP) Associates (CGX’s youngest and brightest talent); John Sabel, Executive Vice President of Motion Picture Creative Print for Walt Disney Studios; the Consolidated Graphics Executive Team and Board of Directors, bankers, lawyers, CGX company presidents and more. It was clear that Consolidated Graphics has a solid team supporting our success.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Joe R. Davis kicked off the night with a warm welcome. Not surprisingly, technology was a major focus of the evening, from Chief Financial Officer Jon Biro’s discussion on recent and future investments, to Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing Aaron Grohs’ overview of major events and product and service developments happening within the company. Investors and guests were able to see the benefits of WorkSmart Suite™, CGX’s newly-launched collection of technology products available to customers, and learn first-hand about the level 4 security rating on the company’s brand new data center, which opened earlier this summer.

CGX continues to show significant growth in a challenging economy, showing 6% revenue growth for a total of $1.054 billion and adjusted operating income up 61%. When it seems as though nobody is hiring, we most definitely are, as we continue our search for talented company presidents and bring on 215 college graduates.

The remainder of the year looks encouraging, as political printing will bring in new profits, acquisition opportunities abound, and digital sales, which currently account for 17% of CGX’s revenues, continue to grow.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Packaging In The Retail Space

A consumer’s impression of a product inside a store begins with its packaging. The consumer reads, visualizes, feels and handles packaging before getting to the desired product, all the while building up a sense of anticipation around the product itself. Clearly, packaging differentiates a product on the shelf and ultimately contributes to consumers’ purchasing decisions.

At Consolidated Graphics, our packaging experts work with customers around the country, across all market segments, to assist them in creating effective packaging that makes a positive impression in the retail environment. Here are a few guidelines to help you create a strong presence through packaging:

Keep Your Brand Unique

A well-designed functional package influences customer perceptions and purchasing decisions considerably in the retail environment. Packaging should align with existing sales collateral and brand positioning, while helping a product stand out on the shelf.

Like other marketing elements, packaging is a communication channel that informs consumers whether a product is low or high quality, expensive or inexpensive, meant for you or meant for someone else. The shape, color and design of the package are important factors in drawing consumers toward a product and communicating the features and benefits of that product.

While you want to create a unique presence on the retail shelf or online, it’s important to keep in mind standard perceptions. Children’s toys, for example, often call for brighter colors, while executive office supplies may merit deep, rich colors. Find a way to work within these standards, but still set your products apart from the rest.

Be Safe, but Inviting

Ultimately, packaging serves as protection for the product while in transit, on store shelves, and sometimes for long-term use. That said, the container itself should also be durable enough to withstand damage, as many shoppers will push a bent, torn, or broken package aside in search of a perfect one.

It’s a fine line, however, between durability and impossibility. Just about everyone has wrestled with – and been frustrated by – those plastic electronics packages that require scissors or knives to open. Be aware of your end customer and ultimate product use, and consider the entire customer experience when designing your packaging.

Remember The Inside

The interior design of a package is often overlooked, but is an integral aspect of packaging and impacts consumer perception. Have you ever opened a box just to find cheap Styrofoam that is easily broken down inside? Packaging does not end at the exterior of the package, as consumer perceptions and brand building continue with how the item is housed within the exterior facing carton.

There are a variety of interior packaging materials such as molded pulp, partitions, foam, and thermoform packaging, all of which contribute to the consumer experience and perceived product value. Even heavier paper substrates can be die cut and folded to create a protective interior, while at the same time providing additional print space for brand messages and identity.

Consider the Environment

Many consumers consider environmental impact when making a purchase decision, and want to support products and companies with environmentally friendly practices. In fact, nearly three-quarters of U.S. consumers say they check the packaging labels as a source for environmental information about a product. Effective communication of the sustainable aspects of the product, the packaging itself, and the company can impact a consumer’s brand choice.