Packaging continues to climb the ladder of importance in organizations globally. We’ve reached a point where packaging is actually one of the top “solution providers” to industries across the value chain. In leading companies, packaging will no longer be thought of as only a cost and support center. Leaders are starting to recognize the value packaging provides. We may even see Chief Packaging Officers (CPOs) in the future at major organizations.
Using vision, foresight, and scenario tools, you can see many of the packaging related drivers out there. Some examples include:
- Globalization in emerging markets and the growth of the middle class in places like Africa and Turkey.
- Consumers are more savvy and taking charge—through social media they have been responsible for packaging changes on major products like orange juice and more.
- Open innovation and new science and technology are taking shape as a packaging enabler—from active packaging and risk management solutions to QR codes, nanotechnology, and new material and process technologies.
- New sustainable packaging goals like zero waste, renewable resources, and bio materials are making their move. The low-hanging fruit has been taken, now we should be looking at big-picture ideas like renewable resources, bio materials, and supply chain impacts.
- Retail continues to offer new growth channels: kiosks, vending, ordering via smart phone or Internet. Meanwhile, private label offers significant opportunities for forward thinking converters and real competition for established brands.
- New Holistic design thinking is also making a move forward to hopefully enhance new-product success rates and provide a more enhanced and “full brain” consumer experience. After all, we need to improve new product success rates significantly if the current average success rate is only about 20%.
- Waste is a problem and packaging is a key part of the solution. Right now developed and developing markets lose about 1⁄3 of their total food production. Focus will be on the product in its totality, including the package but not just the package.
- Laws and regulations will continue to touch packaging in a variety of ways, from ensuring truth in advertising claims to Green Guides to potential new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) models under evaluation.
Taking packaging forward
These are just some of the drivers for packaging going forward. We also have many organizations focused on helping to move packaging forward, including: SPC, GPP, AMERIPEN, EUROPEN, INCPEN, WRAP, EPA, FTC, GMA, the Courtaulds commitment, and more.
The real opportunity here is to try and develop a “simple” set of guidelines and/or principles that will enhance collaboration and harmonization to ensure we are all moving packaging up the ladder together. Packaging is important and globally a $600+ billion industry and growing.
We need to start thinking about how and where packaging will be in the next decade. As we develop this foresight, companies across the value chain need to put actions behind the strategies. We just passed the 7B population mark and 97 of 100 people being born today are in developing regions like Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC). Just Think: How will we feed them? How will we enhance their lives? How will we ensure the products they buy will be safe?
We will do much of this by taking packaging to a new rung on the ladder that will include
- New holistic design thinking
- Enhanced global consumer/customer insight development
- Building open innovation and technology programs
- Developing foresight strategies that include actionable work in response to packaging drivers
- Developing new and better collaboration and harmonization efforts across the value chain
- Selling packaging as the solution and not the problem
- Building in sustainable packaging thinking with design at the beginning of projects
- Embracing science and technology as a positive change agent for packaging globally
- Developing new education /training/skill development for packaging professionals
As you can see, the Future for Packaging is bright, but as packaging professionals there is much to be done. Let’s start by selling the value of packaging to our organizations, to consumers, and to various agencies. We need to espouse the positives of packaging to everyone.