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Shelf Space Puts the Squeeze on Packaging

17 Sep, 2004 By: Jessica Wolf

Packaging content for today's crowded home entertainment market means studios and packaging companies are finding new and innovative ways to keep multidisc releases manageable for retail shelf space and use packaging to brand product at the right price.

“With price points coming down for DVD, there is often a precarious balance between implementing cost-effective packaging and packaging that allows a title to stand out on retail shelves,” said Shelli Kaiser, director of marketing and public relations for Nexpak.

Keeping packaging companies on their toes are the breadth and depth of multidisc sets, including gift sets and releases of season after season of complete TV series.

Nexpak's solution is the THINpak, like the style used for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's release of Firefly: The Complete Series and A&E Home Entertainment's recent The World at War 11-disc set.

“Differentiation is a key component when titles are fighting for shelf space and subsequent customer awareness,” Kaiser said. “This is particularly true for TV programming on DVD, where the number of titles coming out has grown exponentially and shelf space is at a premium. THINpak addresses this need with a case that is half the thickness of a standard DVD case. Using packaging like the THINpak means that retailers can double the amount of product that they can get on their shelves.”

Other companies delving into this area include Italian company Pozzoli with its “double-seater” Twin DVD Tray that nestles two discs overlapping in the space of one tray, as seen on Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment's Dawson's Creek: The Complete Second Season and MGM Home Entertainment's The Pink Panther Film Collection.

Launching just this year in the United States is Burgopak, a company that offers a DVD design system in which multiple DVDs can fit in a standard casing, with plastic trays that slide apart out of the packaging. HBO Home Video used it for its release of Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season One.

“We have the ability to do multi-disc sets in the footprint of a regular DVD case, but that hold as many as 16 discs,” said Steve Ades, head of Burgopak's new West Coast department.

Of course, these options are more expensive than traditional packaging, Ades said, but for higher-price-point products, studios will find it worthwhile.

“If it's a premium value, if someone's going to pay more, they really should get more, so we elevate the packaging,” said Justine Brody, VP of marketing for New Line Home Entertainment. The decision on special packaging comes down to the price point, the nature of the title and the number of discs included, she said.

Another component of DVD packaging is the brand identity it can create. Some of the most recognizable product on the shelves are New Line's series of extended edition DVD sets for the “Lord of the Rings” releases.

“That was taken into consideration from day one — the color schemes, how each one was going to draft off the previous release,” Brody said.

A lot more goes into it than DVD lovers may realize, Brody added. With the “Lord of the Rings” elaborate gift-sets, not only was the studio concerned with containing the product to the smallest possible footprint for maximum retail attention, but it went through rounds of testing with the shrinkwrapping, ensuring it would protect the included items like the statuettes from breakage, yet wouldn't obscure the view of the goodies inside, she said.

Paramount Home Entertainment went with a bold branding design for its release of Star Trek: The Complete First Season. A retro-looking yellow plastic box encases the set, created by London-based design company Feref. The next two seasons follow in the same packaging style, but in different colors: the second season blue, and the third red.

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