Packaging the Future – IPL weighs in

It’s 2021 and we’re looking at a shift in megatrends facing the world; a ‘new normal’ for many things, the packaging sector but one. Here a few members of IPL’s expert team share their thoughts on the year ahead for luxury packaging and the global retail market:

Ryan Broomberg, Director

In preparation for the next new normal, packaging companies must rethink packaging design and production beyond ‘must-haves’ such as reasonable costs, convenience, and performance. At IPL, we have recognised that the world is at a crossroads and our new mantra for “Reimagining Packaging” will drive our business for the foreseeable future.

Whilst many of our clients are also driving their own initiatives, they do look to us to be ahead of the curve in our advice and offerings. A challenge in this time of Zoom calls and travel difficulties is to ensure that both our teams and key suppliers live up to our internal messaging of “Reimagine”. This concept of driving culture will be even more important to all people in different leadership positions.

Big brands will, in addition, need to ensure a good sustainability narrative; address differences in e-commerce, ship-ready design and direct-to-consumer models versus old school retail and thirdly, think about designs with hygiene in mind, given heightened consumer-safety concerns.

Glen Broomberg, Head Global Business Development Glen Broomberg IPL Packaging

The global retail environment ‘switched off’ and stalled during 2020 but it’s heartening to see that many of those countries ‘almost back to normal’ are experiencing massive increases in retail sales, even compared to 2019 numbers.  I believe we’ll see this trend continue as consumers return to in-store and ‘live’ experiences. Those retailers fortunate to have survived are likely to experience sales booms.

Subscription services fared incredibly well during difficult times and will continue to serve their new database. The digital channel will undoubtedly continue to grow and grow! Those consumers settled into armchair purchasing will also continue to embrace the ease of online shopping combined with the desire to re-experience ‘live’ in-store opportunities.

 

Jason Roberts, Business Development Manager Jason Roberts IPL Packaging

Of course, we’ll continue, both as consumers and as a global packaging company, to embrace the much-needed drive towards sustainability. Sustainable sourcing and manufacturing will prove an ever-growing landscape of new ideas and opportunities. In the same way, brand language used on packaging & communications is set to become even more important, allowing consumers to see brands as ‘allies’ rather than just consumables.

Though travel bans significantly impacted worldwide brands and their channel sales through Global Duty-Free (a sector which saw an almost 100% drop-off in 2020) a dearth of real-life experiences for so many during 2020 and 2021 should see a re-emergence of travel and resultant Duty-Free sales too.  The global drive to vaccinate, coupled with peoples’ desperate need to, once again, travel and explore once will impact the demands in this sector enormously. 

Christiana Delahaye, Senior Purchasing Manager Christiana Delahaye IPL Packaging

I believe we’ll witness a considerable increase in the use of raw materials as packaging mediums; rigid board, paper, wood, metal, glass – and other more sustainable options such as bio-plastics and even corn, bamboo, vegetable leather, etc. So too, finishing and decorations look set to develop and progress even further. Expect to see an increase in the demand for affordable luxury to something that translates directly to packaging and material sourcing and production.

All this will require the re-structuring of production models in factories and on production lines, implementing new technologies and machines and of course, challenging the packaging supplier’s ability to connect brand and consumer needs with execution – through vision, creativity and excellence.

Our Asian manufacturing partners at IPL continue to play a vitally important role in our supply model, however, our dealings with partner factories in Europe have shown they are more than equipped to meet the latest trends in the industry and to serve nearby markets in the best possible, and “local”, way.  In this way, packaging suppliers need to establish solid partnerships with manufacturing facilities in central areas, close to both source markets and raw material sourcing. It is important to support new capabilities easily and quickly converting these in order to further raise the industry level.

Patrick Leclezio, Head of Product Development & Innovation Patrick Leclezio IPL Packaging

There’s so much to process about the last year; so much upheaval and so much uncertainty – that it’s difficult to predict what’s going to come next.  I’d venture that our tolerance and appetite for change have been fundamentally altered – and that what scared us before really doesn’t seem as frightening now.

Remote work was forced on us by the pandemic and is rapidly becoming ‘de rigueur,’ even within conservative organisations where it previously wouldn’t have been contemplated. We’re entering an era where attitudes to risk will have shifted! Therefore, I think we can expect brands to be bolder with their packaging, to take bigger steps, and to chase larger ambitions. 

Hopefully, this will mean quicker, more meaningful progress in the area of sustainability, but it’ll also engender a ‘freer hand’ for creative vision and innovative energy, both in packaging and in other sectors.  It’s been a tough period, and we’re not done with it yet, but we shouldn’t discount the positive outcomes. Longer-term, I think we’ll come out of this crisis stronger and more empowered!

LB Odendaal, IPL Head of Design LB Odendaal IPL Packaging

The driving force in packaging design this year will be striking the balance between aesthetic appeal and sustainable credibility.  As brands become more and more aware of the social impact of their messaging and transform and adapt to appeal to new and more diverse audiences, this also requires thought and understanding in brand application and messaging from a design point of view. 

Price continues to impact, so too, socially aware consumers want sustainable, responsible packaging that delivers value, a valuable message or potential second use.  Brands and packaging designers can also no longer simply consider good a product looks on a shelf, but how good it looks in a thumbnail online and how it looks and feels when it arrives directly to your home. In this way, social media platforms (with images and videos shared by others) have become new shop fronts.

Designers are challenged to meet the needs of a changing world, to keep innovating and to find a balance between function, cost, impact, and appeal. As physical brand spaces continue to remain shut in many markets, the latest challenge is how to produce packaging that recreates the theatre of the retail experience during the digital unboxing process.

Phillip Hao, Procurement Director Phillip Hao IPL Packaging

The past has taught us relationships with new suppliers entail a learning process for both parties. Suppliers often need time to fully grasp and understand complex product requirements – and we need to realise that these requirements may become even more complex in the ‘next normal.’

Proper communication and ‘mentoring’ are extremely worthwhile. As packaging suppliers, if we challenging manufacturers with new and complex specifications we’re empowering them, pushing them to widen their capabilities and enabling them and of course, our clients, to benefit from high-quality precise manufacturing for new products.

In the future, we need to realise that adopting new methods and techniques will come with challenges but attitude is often the most important ingredient. Willingness to keep at it until it’s right is a very important quality we look for in suppliers and working with these sorts of suppliers is better in the long run, even with this means a few bumps in the road.

 

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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 manage the entire process, from conceptualisation and design to production and delivery.

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