Lynn Butterworth, procurement manager at spirits business Quintessential Brands, said: “I can’t say that supplier intervention has always been seen positively by brand owners, but times are changing, and brand owners and brand managers are beginning to realise the potential benefits of these collaborations.”
Butterworth, who will be delivering a presentation on supplier-led innovation at the Packaging Innovations show later this month, explained: “We are interested in suppliers that come along with an enthusiasm for our products; not just what they have read on our website, but demonstrating that they’ve looked at the range, know where it’s placed, know where we sell and are eager to learn about the business as a whole.”
She drew a parallel between this approach and what she called “the progression of good procurement practice”.
Engaged with suppliers
“Buyers no longer just buy ‘stuff’, but they take the time to become engaged with their suppliers, learn about what they are buying and the influences which affect it,” Butterworth claimed.
“We are asking suppliers to become more aware of the brands they are supplying, coming forward with ideas (not only when asked, but as a matter of course) tailored more to a particular brand or situation,” she said. “We want suppliers to be innovative, but they also need to think out of the box and consider what this looks like for the manufacturer in terms of cost and return on investment.
“It’s no use having some really innovative ink technology on a label, for instance, if the cost is so astronomical that it becomes ultra-niche.”
By way of a positive example, she noted several current projects aiming to prevent or minimise spinning caps on bottles.
“We hope that the solution will involve little capital expenditure from either supplier or manufacturer,” she added.
Butterworth will be presenting a paper as part of the seminar programme at Packaging Innovations, which takes place at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre from February 24–25 2016.