3 Packaging Trends Emerging in 2020

September 16, 2020

Quad’s Packaging team released its Quarterly Trends Report in August, then took a deeper dive to provide actionable insights during a recent live webcast. Enterprise Sales VPs Paul Nowak, Vicki Shamion and Ramona Biliunas detailed how current events will have short- and long-term impacts on the packaging industry.

Packaging is being impacted in our changing world as much as any other industry. Consumer behavior, private-label brands, supply chains and sustainability are all hot topics influencing the way packaging is created and its overall performance in market.

For brands and retailers who depend on packaging, knowing what is driving change in this market segment and how to adjust to it is crucial:

1. The COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded in three stages

  1. The frantic consumer response and the urge to stock up on essentials. This phase grew exponentially with scarcity on store shelves as supply chains were stretched to new limits.
  2. Adjustments by retailers and brands after store closures and the need for contactless shopping.
  3. Economic uncertainty — even consumers who haven’t lost income are spending cautiously. Brands are taking that into account, and many have scaled back.

How to approach? Focus.

Corporate giants struggle to adjust to seismic shifts in the marketplace. Identify where to put money and time to get the best return. Everyone has had to reprioritize on the fly. It’s no surprise that the most agile brands thrive.

What can you do today?

Start by auditing processes — from content creation to fulfilment — across the entire operation to know which ones aren’t working. Challenge your assumptions about lead-times and strategy planning. The five-year outlook is blurrier than it’s been in decades. Responsiveness is at a premium. Be sure to streamline workflows to make shorter-term bets, and to test-and-learn faster.

2. The pandemic has accelerated digital-physical channel integration.

Today, shoppers go straight to brand websites when their local retailer is out of stock or closed. Direct-to-consumer brands were ready and prepared for this. Some household name-brands have done well — Nike and Best Buy already shifted go-to-market strategies by using a more compact supply chain. These brands have greater control and can make quicker decisions.

What’s the best approach? Simplify.

Online “shelves” matter at least as much as what’s in-store. Packaging designers typically focus on actual appearance and appealing to all five senses. Today they must consider how it looks in a thumbnail on mobile devices. Other elements of a digital channel can help tell the brand story.

What can you do today?

Make your products easy to find and frictionless to buy. Optimize your brand’s website for search and support it with strong content. Then invest in media to amplify features and benefits. And be consistent across channels — know how products look in digital, print and real life.

3. Sustainability is more than reusing, renewing and recycling to protect the environment.

Younger generations already demanded brands be better global citizens. Now with louder calls for racial, social and economic equality, it’s more critical than ever.

What’s the best approach? Be relevant.

Brands that improve social and environmental sustainability experience the halo affect and can track positive business outcomes for their efforts. And it isn’t that difficult. Demonstrate empathy and authenticity to stay top-of-mind and at the top of search results.

What can you do today?

Don’t just greenwash your brand — sustainability should be a natural extension of what you already do. Addressing ecological and social concerns in ways that make sense for your unique brand can differentiate you from the competition. If you’re transparent and actively working to create meaningful change, business results will follow.

Watch the entire conversation about the Quarterly Trends Report here.

How can Quad help you create content more efficiently, place media more effectively and improve packaging for multichannel marketing?