If you are a professional working in a product company (FMCG, Pharma, Food Processing, Paints etc), it is likely that you would have interacted with packaging at some or the other time in your career. The current pandemic has not just affected lives but has hit industries badly and food and essential supplies industries have been no different. This, subsequently, is also affecting the packaging industry.
When it comes to FMCG, food and pharmaceutical products, the packaging is indispensable. In addition to that, products like these fall under essential services maintenance act and hence, it became crucial to meet the demand for packaging of these products. The packaging industry also had to keep up with the shortage of staff and raw materials, isolation rules and the panic buying trends. A lot of companies are also looking to localise their entire production and supply chain operations, given the risk of manufacturing offshores. With #GoVocalforLocal consumer demands will also shift towards consumption of quality local produce. This shift in market demands and consumer behaviour will bring some significant changes to the thought process behind packaging design which will stay for coming years.
Factors that will Influence Packaging Design Due to the Pandemic
Despite the global crisis and economic slowdown, product packaging will always be in demand. Pharmaceuticals and FMCG businesses are relatively less impacted . Delivery services now are indispensable at times like these . However, there will be changes when it comes to packaging design. Even after the pandemic subsides, the consumer, as well as the entire supply chain, will have to be careful with product purchase and shipment.
One of the reasons why the virus is so contagious is because of how long it can survive on certain surfaces. A study published in The Lancet shows that the virus can remain active for up to days on wood, plastic, glass or metal surfaces, and even on surgical masks. Factors like these should be taken into consideration while designing new packaging for products.
Top 4 Factors That Will Lead to the Evolution of Packaging Design
1. Demand for Hygienic and Safe Packaging Designs
Consumers and retailers are now taking hygiene more seriously than ever before and the product packaging design is a large part of this equation. Even though the virus is highly contagious, it is still susceptible to common disinfection methods or high temperatures. People are now washing product packaging after purchase, retailers are sanitizing warehouses and E-commerce platforms are now providing options for contactless deliveries.
The solution for this particular problem lies in increasing barrier protection in packaging. Brands like Unilever and P&G already use coatings as a barrier to protect the perishable products inside the packaging. Maybe it’s time for packaging community to take a step further and look at integrating more advanced barrier technologies like “permanent antimicrobial coating of surfaces”, one of which produced by a brand called NanoCare. Eco-friendly Food Grade barrier coatings should also become an integral part of all food delivery packaging like pizza boxes, burger boxes, meal trays etc.
2. Shift to E-commerce and Contact Free Deliveries
With the lockdown in place, people are increasingly shopping from online retailers. A lot of consumers who previously bought from local stores are now also forced to make their purchases online. Furthermore, a lot of e-commerce platforms are partnering with local stores to deliver their products to the home. This trend will continue even after the lockdown is lifted as most people will want to shop from the convenience of their home. Previously, product packaging was designed to stand out on store shelves. However, now they need to be designed for visibility on websites and apps.
For example, an edge that Harpic gets due to its colour blocking on the shelves might not be that useful when it comes to selling on BigBasket. The premium finishes that Parle’sMilano used to intrigue customers to pick up the product off the shelves might not be that effective on Amazon for consumers scrolling through the catalogue. However, this will pave the way for new players and new ways to innovate in order to appeal to the online audience. Communicating the brand story using visual elements in a synergistic way with the packaging will become the new norm of selling on Amazon, Flipkart and Grofers. The packaging formats as well have to be made adaptive to the dynamic e-commerce supply chain.
Here an interesting phenomenon can take place. The world was already slowly transitioning to an E-commerce route from traditional in-store marketing. Add to this the growing popularity of social media, vis a vis Instagram, and the whole dimension changes. Pre-COVID studies have shown that consumers will make repeated purchases from the same brands based on their view of the packaging the product was delivered in.
Customised and premium packaging designed to create an unboxing experience are one of the trends that can be banked on – as can be confirmed from the huge upsurge of unboxing videos online, and just products which are social media ready. A lot of Indie companies are utilizing this fact and reaching out to consumers with the promise of not only a product, but a lifestyle. Be it a fancy curated box of cosmetics or swanky new Bose headphones, unboxing videos can gather lot of publicity for brands
The shift from store shelves to e-commerce platforms opens up a vista of customer servicing – at a much more personal level. E-commerce packaging experience can be elevated by inclusion of tiny but significant design elements focused on better unboxing – like personalisation in printing and branding, thank you cards, custom notes, authenticity certificates, stickers, promotional and business cards, etc. It also provides an excellent ground to integrate tech based user experience points like using AR or VR to promote products, provide personalised discounts, and engage consumers through simple things like recipes.
The shift to e-commerce also means that people will opt for contact-free deliveries. This is particularly true for food deliveries. The package is left outside and the recipient is notified. Packaging design improvements can make it easier to minimize contact between the delivery agent and the recipient. Use of technologies like QR codes and digital engagement through physical packages will become crucial. It’ll become necessary to communicate with the end customer through infographics on the packaging. Mobstac is a pioneer in this field working with players like Nestle
Innovation can also be looked at in items like the delivery bags. Since most items are being delivered to homes, the Delivery boxes / bags are in a way the secondary / tertiary packaging of the product. For ex: UV sanitisation in all delivery bags for sanitation, chill / ice friendly bags are for fresh meat, vegetable and alcohol deliveries whereas heat insulated bags are made for the likes of Swiggy.
3. Localised Supply Chain and Local Consumption
With the prime minister rooting for Indian products and services with #BeVocalForLocal, we are likely to see a drastic shift in consumers buying products that associate with their roots and packaging has to reflect the same. Even new age brands like Epigamia have come up with innovative India flavours like ‘mishti doi’ and using ghee in their chocolate spread! That’s quite gutsy. For ages Indian-ness of products has been looked down upon which has been leveraged by some multi nationals to feed us generic products across decades. Consumers are realising this gradually and this shift can be seen by more and more consumers opting for locally grown and produced items for example using oils like coconut, groundnut and mustard over refined oils. This has to be reflected boldly in the packaging as well.
Recently we designed packaging for the team at BabyChakra. In the first briefing itself the team stressed on how their products are not just made of safe ingredients but are made for Indian parents and their children.
Localised manufacturing on the other hand will push Indian packaging manufacturing ecosystem to innovate and upgrade the packaging and printing technologies to match expectations of brands.
4. A New Hope for Sustainability
Brands were already putting in a lot of effort for making sustainable packaging and moving away from plastics. Now, because of the pandemic, a huge amount of sales is forecasted to move to e-commerce or through home delivery.
People are going to avoid going to super markets and this presents an opportunity for FMCG companies to optimise on the amount of material used in the packaging. This white paper from American Institute for Packaging and the Environment talks about Optimizing Packaging for an E-commerce World
Designing Packaging for a Post- COVID World
The global pandemic does introduce new challenges to the packaging industry. This is something that both new as well as existing brands need to consider when they are designing packages. However, since the designing process is now digitized, it has now become easier to work on them collaboratively.
1. Consumer Behaviour Post-Lockdown
After the lockdown, consumer behaviour will shift drastically. For instance, healthy eating will gain more traction, people are expected to continue cooking at home. People will still stock up on snacks and ready-to-cook meals. This article by Forbes makes a strong argument that Consumers Want Healthy Foods And Will Pay More For Them.
Due to the fast-paced lives we lead today, several brands ranging from New-age to MNC’s, have come up with readymade ancient grain alternatives that are appetising, nutritious, and of course, convenient.
2. Faster Go-to-Market Approach
With the spiking demand of essentials and hygiene products, brands are presented with an unprecedented opportunity of creating products, markets for which never existed. They can have the first movers advantage, provided they are able to get the packaging in time. The lead time required to ideate on the packaging design and to eventually get if manufactured is typically between 8 to 12 weeks.
However, we are not living in typical times. It is now more important than ever that we execute projects swiftly and get our products out before the competition does. Clean Giving, Neat, Klene Hands and Sanzi-Derm are few examples of hand sanitizer brands created virtually overnight.
With online collaborative design tools for product packaging, launching the product to the market becomes much faster. This means a reduced time-to-market and an increased chance of a successful product launch.
3. Collaborative Designing with Social Distancing
Designing packaging is a collaborative activity with multiple stakeholders. Given the new social distancing rules, almost all organizations are encouraging working from home. With the increased digitization, packaging design can be efficiently done from home. We at Bizongo provide the necessary tools and services required for brands to get their packaging designed even while working from home. We provide research to design to go to market support with collaborative online tools to manage the project in a streamlined and efficient manner.
Cloud based SaaS platforms like Artwork Flow by Bizongo can help delegate tasks among the stakeholders, it allows you to manage your creative artworks (packaging/ print posms/ digital creatives) with workflows, allowing the manager to set roles and deadlines. This ensures that the artwork gets developed and proved much faster.
Even though the global pandemic and the economic crisis has caused consumers to spend less, the packaging industry is evolving. It has introduced new challenges that the packaging industry was unprepared for.
However, it can still be solved with efficient digitization of the supply chain. When it comes to packaging design, Bizongo not only has an experienced design team, but also the tools and needed to collaborate effectively while working remotely.
Feel free to comment and ask our team any questions regarding packaging design for a Post-COVID scenario.27