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Post-COVID Consumer Trends and Their Effect on CPGs Today | Digital Printing Lets Brands Promote Inclusion with Themed Short Runs

Today's Take Five Video: Brands are being asked to take a stance on environmental and social issues. Packaging is a great vehicle to promote those stances. Digital printing allows for short runs of timely, socially themed packs when these occasions arise.

Quick hits: 

  • 82% of employees who worked remotely during the pandemic wish to continue to do so. More people working from home means greater consumption of CPG products and use of e-commerce.
  • Consumers are concerned about plastic waste and want to see corporate action regarding it.
  • Consumers also want CPGs to take a “value stand” on topics such as sustainability, social responsibility, and transparency, and will make purchases from companies that align with their own values.
  • Packaging becomes the billboard space where these social or sustainability stances can be illustrated and related. But it’s hard for brands to routinely swap out package designs to keep up with the many causes a brand may champion.
  • Digital printing provides brands with the flexibility to print certain limited time campaigns—Hershey Brazil’s month-long Her/She campaign around International Women’s Day in March—then switch back to higher volume runs of the traditional packaging format. 

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Read article   Read the transcript below:

Kim Overstreet: Hi, I'm Kim Overstreet, senior content strategist with PMMI Media Group. And today I'm going to discuss two prominent consumer trends that are affecting the CPG industry today.

The first trend is a result of the pandemic. According to a recent Consumer Brands Association report, 82% of employees working from home during the pandemic wished to continue to do so, at least some of the time. More people working from home means more at home product consumption and more e-commerce.

The CBA expects sales of CPG products to remain elevated through 2021, if not further, with the annual rate of purchases expected to be 7% or 8% higher than those of 2019.

The second trend according to the CBA is that consumers are demanding sustainable corporate action, particularly with regard to plastic waste, and this expectation could force an improvement in recycling systems.

Suzanne Shelton of the Shelton Group said at Smithers Sustainability in Packaging conference that 45% of consumers have a more positive opinion of brands that use little or no plastic in their packaging. She added that brands should make a clear communication around sustainability and talk about their plan for managing plastics, packaging and recycling.

At the ISTA forum, Mara Devitt, who is a senior partner at McMillan Doolittle, said that consumers want and expect retailers to take a value stand. Devitt said a global research study found over 80% of consumers polled were demanding sustainability, social responsibility and transparency from brands and retailers, and 44% choose to buy products from companies they feel are aligned with their own point of view on sustainability or values.

To read more on this topic, visit

Matt Reynolds: Hello, I'm Matt Reynolds, editor of Packaging World magazine. Welcome back to Take Five. Top of mind for me today is digital printing for a couple different reasons. One, Drupa is happening right now. That's a major international conference and expo. Normally it's an in-person event. This year, it's digital, but we'll be keeping a close eye to see what kind of technologies flow from that, that might affect the packaging space.

And also because we're just wrapping up our May issue of Packaging World, which features a handful of digital printing application stories. And one really stood out to me, especially in the context of what Kim Overstreet was just explaining in the previous segment about how brands are currently being asked by their consumers to stand for something, to stand up for a cause, to take some stance on social justice, or whatever the case might be.

One that really stood out that we wrote about is Hershey, and it's Hershey Brazil specifically, and they were taking advantage of the happy accident of their name, which phonetically sounds like "her-she."

March 8th was International Women's Day and Hershey Brazil used that occasion, the entire month of March in fact, to roll out a wide variety of new pack designs that are celebrating women in art, music, science, and literature. So if you can tell by the photos that are hovering next to my head right now, there really is a wide variety of different package designs.

Now, Kim focused on why these brands are being asked to take a stance on social issues. I'm more interested in how, considering the sheer number and variety of different pack designs and the relative short runs they were going to require by condensing those all to a single month.

Well, digital printing was the answer in this case. So because digital printing doesn't require the manufacture of a new mold die every single time you have a new pack design, brands are able to take advantage of that to move extremely quickly and agilely into certain social justice campaigns, or other ways to demonstrate that they really care. And then switch right back to their traditional iconic Hershey packaging whenever they need to.

So they worked with design agency BETC Sao Paulo, and the converter Camargo Cia de Embalagens—I apologize if I'm butchering the pronunciation. In this case, using flow wrap packaging on an HP Indigo 20000. And that's reverse printed polyester laminated with white BOPP or biaxially oriented polypropylene.

So that's the technical side of things, but it's important to note that Hershey wasn't just paying lip service to a cause, de jour. The company is actually out of the leadership of Hershey, 52% are females, and that goes right up to the CEO, Michele Buck.

One final note on the intersection between these social justice causes and digital printing is both will be on display at Pack Expo Las Vegas later this year. There's going to be a package printing pavilion and also a networking and workshopping breakfast for the PMMI Packaging and Processing Women's Leadership Network.

So that's just an example that these trends, they don't only exist at the consumer CPG level. They affect everyone right on up the supply chain, including packaging manufacturers and packaging machinery manufacturers.

That’s all the time we have today. Thanks for watching.        

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