B+P Creality in Sales Magazine
At Creality we have our eyes and ears everywhere in the packaging industry. To keep up with the times, it is therefore very important for us to keep a close eye on the emergence and development of trends. Christoph Waldau, CEO of Creality, talks in the current issue of Sales Magazine about new developments when it comes to successful packaging.
Packaging makes the difference
In the battle for the favour of consumers in supermarkets and online shops, packaging is more important than ever. Sustainability is currently the dominant and most discussed trend in the packaging industry. But there are also new developments in convenience, design and digitalisation.
Packaging makes things happen: it protects our goods, makes them suitable for storage and transport and creates the conditions for trade and product innovation. With the advent of the consumer society at the latest, packaging has moved into the centre of advertising and communication. It puts itself – and its product – in the limelight and is the element at the point of sale (POS) that makes the difference. The analogue and digital POS pose different challenges.
At the analogue POS, impulse and spontaneous purchases dominate at around 70 percent. On site, packaging is the only advertising medium. Less than half of the shoppers remember product advertising from other channels while shopping. However, the packaging has less than three seconds to be noticed, to convince with the product presentation and to trigger the purchase action.
Due to the changed logistics chain, digital POS and e-commerce place higher demands on product protection. In addition, online packaging often has to be convincing under difficult conditions, as the size and quality of the images vary greatly from shop to shop.
Here and there, however, innovative packaging helps new products to assert themselves on the market and to hold their own in the long term. An innovative package relaunch also opens up new opportunities for established products. Among the most important opportunities for innovation are the areas of sustainability and design. Digitalization and convenience.
Sustainability: perceived and actual ecological balance
Packaging is at the centre of many brands’ sustainability messages, which leads to a high number of innovative solutions. The most important aspects include a consistent design for recycling, single-material solutions and the avoidance of material mixes, the use of recycled materials and the avoidance of the use of plastics. This is accompanied by a renaissance of glass, but also of paper and cardboard. These packaging materials are conquering areas of application that were previously the domain of plastics. Examples are confectionery (Nestlés Yes bars), frozen food (Frosta) and cosmetics and personal care (Caprice lipstick and Kneipp products). In the search for maximum sustainability, paper made from alternative raw materials such as grass or stone is increasingly being used.
However, the final word has not yet been spoken on the issue of materials. After all, the actual ecological balance of paper and glass does not always keep pace with the image. If all ecological factors are taken into account, from raw material and energy sources to recyclability, weight and volume, it is only possible to make general statements about the sustainability of a packaging material to a limited extent. In the future, however, the actual life cycle assessment will become increasingly important. On the one hand, this will offer new options for the use of recyclable recycled plastic. On the other hand, each material will increasingly have to face up to its life cycle assessment. It is therefore no coincidence that the trend towards a fundamental reduction in the amount of packaging is gaining in importance.
Design: From striking and alienating to storytelling
Current design trends focus on bold design, alienation effects, innovations in printing and finishing, but also on the integration of storytelling and unboxing experiences. In storytelling, for example, the different product types are each represented by their own characters – as in the new Maggi seasoning blends with Max Meat and Paula Potato. Product information and added-value texts such as recipe suggestions are narrated and formulated in a way that is appropriate for the target group.
Whatever is trendy is innovative and surprising design in itself. One example of this is the packaging front of the Wagner Big City Pizza (Nestlé), which has the look of the natural corrugated cardboard packaging of a pizza delivery service and, apparently half torn open, offers a view of the appetisingly prepared pizza.
It is to be expected that the increasing use of environmentally friendly materials and designs will be increasingly promoted on the packaging itself in the future. To this end, appropriate design areas must be provided and used for communication purposes. The current, emotionally motivated trend towards “eco-ugly” (what is environmentally friendly must look like brown paper) will continue to develop. Brands and products will increasingly present themselves as “eco-chic”.
Digitisation: from the urge to play to added value
Digital innovations are currently still rather rare in consumer packaging. If they do, packaging as a media platform via printed codes on smartphones leads to value-added offers in the form of videos, websites or apps. An innovative example from China is the Our Idol potato chips. Here Chinese consumers can support their star by buying the packaging with his or her likeness. Using a QR code, they can then launch a Pokémon Go style virtual reality game, capture virtual chips and share their game results directly from the app in social media.
Digitalisation through new printing and packaging processes also offers innovative possibilities in terms of individualisation or personalisation of packaging, for example, when consumers can put their name or their own message on it. Rather a niche application, especially for promotional purposes, can be found in the field of printed electronics, where the packaging attracts attention via applied conductor paths and LEDs.
In principle, despite the currently still limited use, it can be assumed that digitization will become increasingly important as a driver of packaging innovation. It brings new possibilities for advertising, consumer communication and brand loyalty, for transparency in the supply chain, for adherence to therapy in the medical sector or individual nutritional advice.
Convenience: from utility value to sustainability
Traditionally, packaging is not only pure product protection, but also a convenience tool that offers added value that triggers and confirms purchases, such as new dispensers and applicators, mechanisms for easy opening and reclosing, a tabletop presentation or to-go usability. A classic is the cup for Dr.-Oetker cake glaze. Here the handle, optimised for right- and left-handed use, also serves for hanging in the pot in which the glaze is heated. A small opening for decorating and a larger one for pouring over offer bakers and baker’s assistants creative and clean possibilities for use without the need for additional kitchen utensils. While convenience has been one of the most important trends in packaging over the past decade, it seems to be stagnating at the moment due to the environmental debate. In the medium term, however, convenience will experience a renaissance – if and when it is possible to implement the added value in a sustainable manner.
Innovation is teamwork
What becomes clear in view of the different possibilities for packaging innovation is the need for a holistic and interdisciplinary approach. It requires solid and proven know-how at the cutting edge and across the board, from design, technology, materials science and psychology to consumer insights for the various markets and scenarios. But this can only be achieved in a team of engineers, designers and branding professionals.