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6 Strategic Priorities for Packaging Companies in the New Unknown

There’s a new dawn of opportunity afoot and change is coming thick and fast in all areas of packaging, its design, production and supply. A host of transformational and geo-political changes are also currently challenging many global packaging players. Nevertheless, these issues present real opportunities for packaging suppliers to focus on key areas of value creation and to successfully deliver against future thinking.

At IPL Packaging we believe the future will be shaped by those companies able to anticipate tomorrow while delivering on the priorities of today; the ones turning the pandemic aftershocks to their advantage and building the capabilities they require to thrive in the new reality.

We’ve identified the following 6 key priorities for global packaging suppliers as we plan our path to the future.

1. Build Longevity through Resilience

It’s fair to assume that global packaging companies servicing worldwide brands have forged significant trust and solid relationships with their clients over time. They’re counted on for their reliability, ability to understand demand patterns, knowledge of legislation and requirements relating to different industries and, of course, consistently delivering within timeframe and on budget. They ultimately have a responsibility to be there for their clients in the long term.

Packaging suppliers should essentially treat the high volatility of client markets as the new norm in this era of transformational change. It seems clear that those failing to address the real issues head-on will be sure to face significant uphill challenges. Resilient and successful companies, however, should utilise this (rather uncertain) era to embark upon the next level of value creation.

An important aspect of ensuring packaging suppliers are around for years to come means adopting a resilience focussed on growth and the optimisation of resources. For example, resource allocation to key growth areas such as innovation, the development of new packaging capabilities, driving down sourcing costs and embracing automation – these key focus areas will help packaging suppliers both capture growth and navigate transformational change.

2. A Culture of Profit for Purpose

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Increasingly, packaging suppliers will need to invest where it really matters to consumers, brands and regulators. Whilst this reinforces the importance of sustainability, reduction of packaging waste and efforts to develop eco-friendly packaging alternatives, it also means we’ll need to lead from the front when it comes to transparency of supply chain activities and policies of inclusion, community, equality and responsible work and labour practices.

The prevalent linear economy model is narrowly focused on economic benefits. Future-fit organisations will need to balance their approach to value a holistic creation between the economic, societal and ecological dimension of their operations. Ultimately, if sustainability resonates, then communicating mature business views and behaviours does too.

3. Win by Retaining High Standards

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By its nature, luxury packaging meets the essential criteria of excellence. Synthesis of research, technology, artisan knowledge and attention to detail, are assets in all respects, capable of supporting and uplifting the image and reputation of a brand.

Now, more than ever, packaging experts need to continue to research and investigate the evolution of the high-end packaging market, take stock of the evolving needs expressed by brands, the possible influences exerted by new online sales methods, social media ‘unboxing’ trends and the value of the luxury global market.

Quality will consistently remain king and packaging suppliers should act as ‘early responders’, reconciling the increased consumer need for sustainable packaging with the desire for premium, bespoke and high-quality materials and aesthetics.

4. Maintain Pricing Excellence

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Skyrocketing freight costs, growing inflation and the scarcity of many critical resources have created exponential challenges for brands, particularly smaller ones. This puts even further pressure on packaging companies to source effectively and efficiently, have scale in order to negotiate on volume, understand the best ways to address and affect a client brief and also achieve budgets.

In turn we, as responsible brand partners, we need to pay and treat manufacturers fairly in order to retain and grow strong relationships, not cut corners at the detriment of the end product and, ultimately, work as hard as possible to shield clients from cost pressures wherever possible. This means retaining transparent and open communication relating to any logistical, timeframe or material constraints that may impact on delivery or product costs.

5. Take People and Packaging Personally

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Leaders and CEOs like to spend a lot of time creating strategy, which sets out goals in a logical way. But as the saying goes, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

People choose brands and partners that are a reflection of their values. When packaging suppliers can demonstrate the values of accountability, optimism, authenticity, respect, trust and communication, particularly in these ever-changing times, they will continue to retain the loyalty of their customers and staff.

Packaging companies will also increasingly need to attract, retain, and retrain employees, and get the return to work balance right; to value ‘people’ and their skills, talent and expertise. As market dynamics continue to evolve, it’s imperative to create vibrant ecosystems and partnerships. They will need to view engagements with clients as partnerships (i.e. not just supplier – client) and similarly strengthen and embolden their relationships with manufacturers and shipping agents to get ahead of inflation and supply headwinds.

6. Productivity Improvement and Techno-Advancement

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It goes without saying that packaging suppliers will need to embrace digitisation (incl. the use of automation) in the front, back, and middle of their processes. Just as with other companies, we need to be watchful of opportunities at all times. The Internet is not going away and digital working is really now less of a competitive advantage than a real prerequisite.

Companies will have to carry out these moves against the backdrop of the current external environment (labour shortages, shipping issues, working from home) and the new tools and technologies available. This also re-emphasises the value of people, the importance of a personalised approach to clients, and of filling any critical gaps in sales, procurement and logistics in order to improve our risk management, resilience and agility.

Conclusion

None of this involves wholly new territory. In fact, much of what we’re facing in the future involves going back to the basics. Protecting employees and customers should remain a central tenet of the business strategy – not only for business continuity purposes, but as a way to further enhance organisational culture.

At IPL we are excited about the future. We have a vision for it. We’ll also keep our clients at the centre of it. We understand we need to meet them on all fronts – advance materials, design, aesthetics, experience, sustainability and technology – and while serious strides have been made already, the future is coming, change is a given and we’re ready for it.


IPL Packaging is a global luxury packaging supplier with offices in the USA, Europe, Mexico, Asia and Africa. Approved manufacturing is available in several Asian countries, as well as sites in Eastern Europe. We create bespoke, tailored and exclusive packaging for any premium or luxury brand and lead the entire process, from conceptualisation and design to production and delivery.

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