Simpler shades show big savings for Unilever

Excerpted from AdAge “Unilever Sees Green With Pared-Down Color Palette” By Jack Neff, December 01, 2008

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Somewhere over the rainbow lies $5 billion in savings for the package-goods industry.

Using a color-harmonization program Unilever is reducing the more than 100 hues it uses on its spreads and dressings packaging in Europe to six. Unilever’s hope is to save tens or eventually even hundreds of millions of dollars a yearthe initial savings for Unilever in Europe amount to $13 million to $26 million…

Advancements in printing, which have added as many as four additional colors to the old four-color process, have helped make such moves possible, reducing the need for specialized or “spot” colors to get the right look — or close to it.

There’s even a potential environmental benefit…Cost savings and waste reduction come from buying inks on a greater scale, creating far less ink and packaging waste in the process of doing changeovers, and from producing final packaging because reduced complexity can improve quality and consistency…

“Basically, eight out of 10 marketers couldn’t tell the difference between their old packaging and the new packaging once we converted it…The team was, quite frankly, blown away with the results…”

But the approach isn’t for everyone. Savings are much bigger for the largest, most diverse package-goods companies with the most complexity in their packaging lineups.

Edit by SAC

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Unilever’s efforts to reduce color hues will likely go unnoticed by consumers, but will certainly be noticed by brand managers looking to cut costs.  The effort is a great example of a small, yet significant change that is friendly to both the environment and the corporate wallet.  

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