Creative partnership between Mey and Karl Knauer
Like in private relationships, the chemistry has to be right when business contacts work together. When the relationship is harmonious and there is mutual trust, even challenging projects can be implemented swiftly and innovations can be developed for successful presence on the market. Close collaboration of this kind can benefit, not only the businesses involved, but also customers and even the environment, and the partnership between the well-known underwear brand Mey and Karl Knauer is a perfect example of this.
“To remain with the metaphor of a relationship, things really clicked between us and Mey straight away. We were instantly mad about each other when the first query came from Mey’s marketing department in early 2016,” recalls Rita Schätzle, the responsible Key Account Manager at Karl Knauer. “Our first joint project involved replacing the existing standard folding boxes with packaging that would be seen as ‘special’ – that was how it was worded in the briefing – at the point of sale.”
A folding box was then developed and implemented for this first assignment with a hinged lid that presents the underwear in high quality and gives the customer a special “unboxing” experience when unpacked at home. If you take a look at the kind of packaging underwear manufacturers use at the POS, you can see that this type of packaging is very rarely used, which meant that the new hinged lid folding box for Mey instantly stood out.
Support from mock-ups to mechanical engineering
“Once we had seen the first mock-ups, we knew that we had really hit the bull’s eye by bringing Karl Knauer on board. With Karl Knauer we had found exactly the type of packaging partner that we had been looking for,” confirms Iris Erkner, from Marketing, Packaging Development at Mey. “We instantly felt that the Karl Knauer team was not only giving us comprehensive and professional support, but also that they actually understood us.” The reason for this may be that the two companies have a similar DNA: both Mey and Karl Knauer are family companies with a long tradition that give special priority to sustainability and social responsibility. Both companies produce almost exclusively in their own factories in Europe and have a reputation for high-quality products that clearly set themselves apart from goods that are cheap and do not last long.
“We always aim to find solutions where all the details are just right. This also means that we always let our clients know if there are any alternatives or ways to save money or optimise.” This led, for example, to Mey inviting Karl Knauer’s mechanical engineering team to visit before the launch of the new packaging variants so that they could make the necessary adjustments and changes in production. As a result, the change-over then went smoothly.
Sustainability at the high-level segment
The excellent collaboration between the two companies resulted in existing solutions being scrutinised in parallel with the introduction of the new packaging. Accordingly, additional optimisation potential (in relation to material use and packaging sizes) was discovered and implemented. Smaller quantities, and mostly more compact packaging formats, combined with especially environmentally friendly materials – this was how the two partners were able to make production even more sustainable.
Mey GmbH & Co. KG is an owner-operated, small-scale company that has prioritised top quality, innovation and a strong sense of responsibility since 1928. Sustainability has played a central role for Mey, not just in recent years, but long before it became a general trend. “For our ‘Organic’ product series, for example, we work to the highest, in other words the strictest, social and ecological standards across the entire production chain, ensuring that our underwear feels good, not only on your skin, but also on your conscience. And, of course, this should also apply to our packaging, which should both be of especially high quality and convey the ecological aspect,” explains Iris Erkner from Mey. In a joint development project, Mey and Karl Knauer implemented packaging made from especially sustainable materials, including 3D and film embossing. There were various test runs and versions, and the materials tested included grass cardboard and recycled cardboard. This packaging is a successful example of how maximum environmental protection and minimum waste need not be at odds with a need for high-quality design. At the same time it shows where developments in product presentation can and will lead: (organic) products that are packaged in plastic are no longer accepted by many shoppers – the cucumber is perhaps the most typical example of this. As purchasing decisions are increasingly based on the packaging, there is a trend towards much more sustainable materials, reduced forms and a more natural feel.
Control is good, trust is better
“Thanks to our truly optimum collaboration with the professionals at Mey, we are able to take a free and creative approach to projects. This results in drafts and mock-ups that are a little different. For example, we were the ones who had the idea of using unusual gable-top packaging for the premium brand ‘mey story’. In this packaging, the material use and the design are reduced to a minimum – and are thus perfectly in line with contemporary tastes. We are, of course, delighted that our draft was implemented and has gone on to become a real eye-catcher at the POS,” recalls Rita Schätzle from Karl Knauer.
Not only the collaboration between Karl Knauer and Mey but long-term business relationships in general tend to pay off. Having the courage to hand over your project to others with different experience is often rewarded – with new input, specialist expertise and more efficient use of time and resources.