fuseproject – Yves Behar
PUMA Clever Little Bag
PUMA Clever Little Bag
PUMA’s “Clever Little Bag” is a bag and box combination; a cardboard sheet folds into a box structure, fitting seamlessly into a cloth bag. This system uses 65% less cardboard than the standard shoebox, is recyclable, and reduces water, energy and diesel use in manufacturing by over 60% per year.
Yves Behar, Josh Morenstein, Nick Cronan, Seth Murray, fuseproject and GBH
Mark Christou: Given time, talent and a vision, brands can make huge steps to bettering our lives, our experiences and our planet. PUMA and Yves Béhar have set the benchmark for desirable, sustainable, and on-brand packaging.
Melanie Wiesenthal: The fact that Puma thought to redesign a standard box with sustainable design in mind is admirable enough; but they also go a step further and reinvent the game. The design is smart, brand-right and serves to enhance the customer experience well after they’ve left a controlled store environment. I want it. Wish I thought of it.
Joshua Handy: The Puma “Clever Little Bag” is a great example of how a large organization can overcome seemingly insurmountable internal and systemic hurdles to address a legacy sustainability issue. The result is an elegant case study of clever, informed design that delivers a consumer benefit, an interesting marketing story, a manufacturing efficiency and a reduced environmental impact. Bravo designers, nicely done Puma!
Joe Marianek: The clever design of the structure is cohesive with the subtle and utilitarian branding. So, if one loves the color red, it's not an all entirely embarrassing bag to use and reuse.
Marianne Klimchuk: This one is ingenious! Lets face it – this is one of those packaging designs that we all wish we had designed! What more is there to say!
PUMA Clever Little Bag
1. Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the challenge posed to you? Did it get you excited and why?
In partnering with PUMA, we looked to create a packaging system that would greatly reduce their footprint and build on their initiatives toward cleaner, greener, and safer practices. The challenges were to change both the design and strategy behind their packaging system to achieve their sustainability goals. The overall challenge was three-fold:
- To create huge savings in material use, reduce waste and increase efficiency
- To work in existing systems and with traditional vendors
- To celebrate PUMA’s global leadership and commitment to the environment.
We examined a variety of packaging methods, consistently one of the most difficult areas to incorporate sustainability. For PUMA, this meant shoeboxes and the infrastructure that comes with them. Boxes contribute to millions of tons of waste a year and even with proposed second uses, they are eventually thrown out. After studying over 40 shoebox prototypes, we concluded that to achieve maximum environmental impact, we had to abandon boxes altogether. The challenge was how to maintain key aspects of the shoebox, such as a structure that stacks, protection for the shoes inside, and creating an easily adoptable system that will have a sufficient impact.
2. What point of view did you bring to the challenge? Was there anything additional that you wanted to achieve with this project or bring to this project that was not part of the original brief?
While PUMA is one of the most environmentally conscious clothing and sportswear companies in the world, they are ultimately confined by established industry norms and manufacturing processes. PUMA’s original shoebox was already very sustainable and used far fewer resources and materials than similar models from other shoe companies. However, it was still a box, part of an aging system that produces a massive amount of waste.
PUMA came to us to further these sustainability commitments, but more importantly to go above and beyond what has already been done. We wanted to look at the total system, not just the end product. Partially because we are removed from the industry, we were able to bring insight, innovation and a new perspective to their packaging. We needed to examine the viewpoints of all of the stakeholders in the product lifestyle and think about how the new system would affect each of them from start to finish. Through this unique point of view, as both outside observer and as a leader/innovator in sustainable design, we helped catapult this project into an entirely new realm – abandoning the shoebox and system fully and exploring an entirely different design, thinking outside the box…
3. When designing this project, whose interests did you consider? (Discuss various stakeholders, audiences, retailing, manufacturing, assembly, distribution, etc., for example.)
Throughout the development of the Clever Little Bag, we had to consider each step in the manufacturing, production and distribution process to create a holistic system that would truly allow for environmental change.
For PUMA, costs needed to be the same or less than they were previously – solutions could not be more expensive than existing methods. Also, just as they should not increase costs, solutions should not inconvenience or put strain on existing production and distribution methods. Doing so would decrease the likelihood of successful adoption and implementation. The solution also had to support PUMA’s commitment to clean, green and safe practices across the board. As an industry leader, they wanted to be the first to truly redefine the industry standard of the shoebox and make a lasting impact.
Consumer and partnering retailers were considered as key stakeholders in developing this design as well. One of the reasons the shoebox has been an industry staple for over a century is simple: it works. Our redesign had to maintain certain elements of this design that are functional, protective, and expected by the consumer. Also, because PUMA partners with other stores, the design had to facilitate a seamless transition away from the shoebox; it had to work with their existing shelving and display systems and be easy to use for their employees. Just as the design should not require a different manufacturing process, it should fit within the established infrastructure in place by retailers and distributors.
4. Describe the rigor that informed your design. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) If this was a strictly research or strategy project, please provide more detail here.
Existing Packaging Audit: Before we could determine how to reduce PUMA’s environmental footprint, we needed to understand where exactly they were with existing packaging systems. PUMA underwent a Life Cycle Analysis to figure out what about their packaging was working and what was not, to identify key areas to improve experience for both employees and customers, and to assign an official environmental grade to their current system.
Stakeholder Interviews: While the LCA gave an official, more statistical idea of where PUMA stood in terms of their environmental goals, we also wanted to hear from actual employees. From corporate businessmen to distribution center employees, current designers to factory line workers, we held informal discussions and work sessions to determine what stakeholders needs were and to define a company-wide, shared vision of success.
International System Audit: The design team traveled to manufacturing, distribution and retail centers in Europe, Asia and North America to see first-hand the way current packaging is produced, transported, stored and presented in-store. In order to improve upon existing systems, we had to see how:
-current shoe packaging is made and assembled
-apparel bag and hang tags are assembled with finished goods
-goods are put in to cartons, handled and shipped
-goods are stored at distribution centers
-orders are filled at distribution centers
-orders are unpacked and stored at retail stores
-Puma employees carry and present the product in-store
Material Exploration: In partnership with Material ConneXion, the design team explored different material options for maximum functionality and sustainability. We were able to evaluate new materials with low environmental footprints and desirable properties, while also undergoing an iterative collaboration, matching design concepts with appropriate materials
After the extensive research process, we brought all of our learning together to define the functional parameters for the design – how the new “shoebox” had to work within existing infrastructures, improve PUMA’s sustainability, continue to protect shoes through shipment and distribution. We also worked to prioritize opportunities to improve customer experience during retail and beyond.
5. What is the social value of your design? (Gladdening, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, labor-mindful, environmental, cultural, etc.) How does it earn its keep in the world?
The Clever Little Bag is PUMA’s innovative replacement for the traditional shoebox; a bag and box combination comprised of a flat cardboard sheet that folds into a box structure and fits seamlessly into a cloth bag. The cardboard is die-cut from one piece of material with no additional printing or assembly, thus it can be returned to the stream faster and more efficiently. This packaging solution uses 65% less cardboard than the original shoebox. The bag is made of recyclable, non-woven polyester with polypropylene. It is stitched with heat, not woven, meaning less work and waste during production. The ability to re-use the bag is also a fundamental part of this design.
The millions of shoes shipped in this bag will save 8,500 tons of paper, 20 million Mjs of electricity, 1 million liters of fuel oil and 1 million liters of water during production. During transport, 500,000 liters of diesel is saved and replacing traditional shopping bags will save 275 tons of plastic.
Reports show that PUMA’s stakeholders are pleased with the design also. PUMA customers like interacting with the company on a different level by sending in pictures of their own re-uses of the bag for PUMA to post on their website. Employees also say they appreciate the design’s likeness to a shoebox, making the in-store transition smooth.
In redesigning a fundamental piece of packaging, PUMA demonstrates their creative and environmental leadership. Moving forward, PUMA plans to re-envision other packaging systems and hopes the industry will follow suit.
6. If you could have done one thing differently with the project, what would you have changed?