WHY NEW TECHNOLOGY AND BRAND DESIGN MUST BE A PACKAGE DEAL
Jim Vondrasek, Business Development Manager,
Consumer Packaging & Innovation
Until December 2017 I would have been considered a member of a shrinking consumer segment: A non-online shopper. No Amazon account. No click to repeat orders. Last minute holiday shopping was typical for me. Doing so online was not.
Cautiously optimistic, I took to Amazon with my list in hand. Several customer reviews, comparison charts, custom searches and about 10 minutes later my list was suddenly accounted for. Scarves for my sisters. Candles for my Mom. No parking lots. No long lines.
I felt fully converted. My long-confirmed attitudes towards the drawbacks of online shopping were gone in the snap of a finger. It didn’t take long to realize that consumer behavior as a whole has been undergoing that same extraordinary pace of change. just don’t always notice it.
CHANGING CONSUMER BEHAVIOR
It’s no secret that ecommerce, smart devices and digital wallets are rapidly reshaping the focus that retailers and brands must maintain. As consumer expectations change, the strategies with which we meet them can’t stay stagnant. For decades, the in-store experience has acted as the main arena for CPG brands. In-store locations are reliably consistent, selections are limited and shoppers have an opportunity to interact with the product and its surrounding competitors.
The online environment is remarkably different. Minutes turn into seconds. The sheer volume of choices can be paralyzing to a consumer. Convenience, selection and accessibility of information take priority over being able to put the product in your hands before purchase. In some cases, packaging is no longer present at all. Communication must be carried by a different means and the role of the brand itself completely changes. The list goes on.
In response to this, major CPG organizations are already adapting to this change with specific ecommerce strategies that reflect a broader understanding of their consumer’s experience.
PACKAGING CHANGES WITH ECOMMERCE
As brand experience is reworked for e-commerce, new prototyping and packaging capabilities will be needed, which includes new design thinking, innovative packaging solutions and holistic strategies to leverage digital platforms. The balance of shipping costs, decreased waste, sustainability, brand expression and consumer experiences will put pressure on packaging innovation to solve multi-faceted challenges.
The brands that want to position themselves for success will connect the dots from several customer touch-points and create a compelling and cohesive story – even when those touchpoints are constantly changing and demanding new attention.
When buyer demographics change, so do the behaviors. Over the last decade or two, the purchasing experience has completely changed not just how technology has enabled new capabilities, but also in how customers interact with companies.
We can expect packaging innovation of the future to center around a few factors. No surprise, Amazon has planted themselves at the forefront of each:
- RFID & Embedded Sensors: RFID tags use a wireless radio wave to identify products through a chip embedded in the object. Innovations will likely result in an increase in product security, readability and traceability. Case and point – Amazon Go and the introduction of grocery stores without checkout lines, now open in Seattle.
- Sustainability: Amazon is leading the charge at creating packaging efficiencies with their Packaging Certification program. Adopting these changes and investing in primary packaging formats have resulted in reduced shipping costs, reduced in-transit damage, and increased overall profit margins.
- The Internet of Things (IoT): The Amazon Dash Button, an automated replenishment system which includes a physical button that allows consumers to reorder products automatically. The next phase is for the buttons to be integrated into items such as a washing machine or printer, so that the systems can automatically detect when a consumable is about to run out and order it automatically.
It’s time for brands to notice that we’re heading towards an age of consumer expectations that we’ve never experienced before. And, the moment is now to make packaging changes designed to support the shifting customer mindset to better meet their needs. While the dramatic shift is only just beginning, it’s the brands that use these new realities to their advantage that are going to continue redefining just what ‘normal’ really means.