Daily Archives: December 16, 2013

The Future of Packaging is All About Labelling … At Least For Now

DC Velocity recently ran a short article on the 10 global trends that are shaping the future of packaging that was quite interesting, but for the near future, not that relevant — especially to Procurement and Logistics.

For example,

Big Science will continue to discover lighter and stronger substrates, which will eventually allow packaging to be reduced, but the time it takes between the time a new substrate is discovered until it is mass produced at a competitive cost is typically a decade. No big changes are coming in the next few years.

The eco agenda has been pushing environmental concerns for a couple of decades now. The eco agenda is not going away, but, unless your corporation is damaging the environment more than the competition, it’s not going to change its behaviour until it is more cost effective to do so with near-term results. In other words, until someone invents a significantly more environmentally packaging alternative that is stronger and cheaper than what is currently in use, no changes are expected as a result of the eco agenda.

Developments in Neuroscience will allow for the design of more enticing packaging, but that design will predominantly revolve around the graphics, colours, and messaging on the packaging, as you can’t securely ship a square item in an oversized round sphere without padding and adding undue cost to the process. As a result, regardless of what the still inexact science of neuroscience tells us, there will be no change to the packaging in the near future, just what is printed on it.

Demanding Consumers will always want more, but now that every smartphone has a free barcode scanning app, all you have to do is slap on a q-code or a barcode and, voila, they user can be taken to a dedicated web-page. Again, no changes to the packaging, just what is printed on it.

Unless your packaging contains dangerous chemicals, which should have been taken out years ago with the introduction of RoHS and similar acts around the world, More Legislative Oversight is only going to add more labelling requirements in the short term, especially in F&B and CPG. The oversight is not going to fundamentally change the nature of packaging for most products in most industries (unless a new chemical is deemed harmful and restricted for use in packaging).

SI could go on, but packaging is not likely to change much in the next few years, just like it hasn’t changed much in the last decade. Emerging markets, the rise of the BRIC, and new retail models will eventually spur a packaging renaissance, but not until there is a crisis or radical new breakthrough to drive it. In the interim, the focus will be on labelling — exceeding the legislative concerns to appease the more demanding consumer and doing so in a way that is attractive and calming.

Anyone have any good counter-arguments?