Creative partnership between Karl Knauer and Mey

Successful partnerships add market value

Like in any other relationship, the chemistry between business contacts needs to be just right. Because, when the collaboration is a harmonious one, and the trust is there, it enables even the most challenging projects to be realized quickly and innovations to be developed for a successful market presence. The collaboration between the well-known underwear brand Mey and the Black Forest-based packaging specialist Karl Knauer is a prime example of how such a close working relationship not only benefits the companies involved but ultimately the customers and even the environment.

“If we're looking at what a good partnership looks like, there was an instant connection between Mey and ourselves. Of course, we were all for it when we received the first enquiry from Mey’s marketing department in the spring of 2016,” recalls Rita Schätzle, the Key Account Manager responsible at Karl Knauer. “Our first joint project focused on replacing existing standard folding boxes with packaging that would be, according to the brief, perceived as “ special” at Point of Sale (POS).
A folding box with a hinged lid was developed and created for this order, in which the garment is presented in a high-quality way and provides the customer with a special “unboxing” experience when unpacking at home. If you look at the packaging of other underwear manufacturers at POS, it is evident that such packaging is rarely used, with the result that the hinged lid folding box for Mey immediately catches the eye.

Support from the design stage through to manufacturing
“It was clear to us that we made the right choice getting Karl Knauer on board as soon as we saw the first designs. Karl Knauer is exactly the packaging partner we had been looking for,” confirms Iris Erkner, who is a member of Mey’s Marketing and Packaging Development department. “We immediately felt that Karl Knauer wasn’t only providing us with extensive and specialist support but actually understood us.” This may be due to both companies having a similar DNA. Both Mey and Karl Knauer are long-standing, family-run companies and place particular value on sustainable, socially responsible business practice. Both manufacture virtually exclusively in their own plants in Europe and impress with high-quality products that clearly distinguish themselves from short-lived, cheaper goods. 

“Our focus is always on developing solutions where every detail fits. As a result, we always share alternatives or cost-saving and optimisation opportunities with our customers as a matter of course.” For Mey, this meant that Karl Knauer’s mechanical engineering team was invited to the premises before introducing the new packaging variants in order to make the necessary adjustments and changes in production. This ensured that the changeover ran smoothly in practice.

Sustainability in the high-end brand segment
The sound collaboration between the two companies also enabled already existing solutions to be put to the test alongside the launch of the new packaging. This led to the identification of further optimisation potential and its implementation in terms of material usage and packaging sizes. By deciding on a reduced quantity of largely more compact packaging formats, and combining this with particularly environmentally friendly materials, the partners were able to make production even more sustainable in this respect as well. 

Mey GmbH & Co. KG is an owner-managed, medium-sized business, which has placed great value on high quality standards, innovation and a sense of responsibility since 1928. So, rather than only playing a key role in recent years, sustainability became a central focus for Mey long before the general trend emerged. “Our ‘Organic’ range is an example of how we work according to the highest i.e. most rigorous social and ecological standards along the entire production chain, which means that our underwear not only feels good when worn but feels good in an ethical sense too. This should, of course, also apply to packaging, which should present a high standard of quality as well as the ecological aspect,” explains Mey’s Iris Erkner. For their joint development project, Mey and Karl Knauer tested and trialed several variations of packaging made from specifically sustainable materials such as grass board and recycled cardboard, including 3D and foil embossing. This packaging is a successful example of how the demand for high-quality design can be combined with the best possible protection of resources and the environment. It also demonstrates where the development of product presentation can and will lead: (Organic) products that are packaged in plastic are seen as unacceptable by many buyers - the cucumber is perhaps the most notable example here. As the decision to purchase is becoming increasingly dependent on the packaging used, the trend is towards significantly more sustainable materials, reduced packaging and a more natural feel.

Control is good but trust is better
“The excellent relationship with those responsible at Mey means we are able to approach projects freely and with creativity. And this is how concepts and designs emerge that are different from the rest. So it was us who came up with the idea of using unusual bag-style packaging for the premium brand ‘mey story’. The use of materials and the design itself have also been reduced to a minimum, reflecting current trends perfectly. We are of course delighted that our design was used and proved to be a real eyecatcher at POS,” recalls Karl Knauer’s Rita Schätzle.

It’s not just the collaboration between Karl Knauer and Mey that has its advantages – long-term business relationships generally pay off. Because those that have the courage to place themselves or their project in experienced hands, often reap rewards such as new impulses, professional expertise and the more efficient use of their own time and resources.