Looking back at 2021 it has been a year of extremes, a time for transition, dealing with the COVID pandemic globally and its impact on individuals, businesses, and society at large.
With so many changes happening in the world we wanted to take a moment to assess what the impact has been from such a tumultuous year on our industry, customers, and the packaging supply chain.
We set ourselves a few questions internally to start thinking about what we experienced in 2021 and what the future holds for us in 2022.
Andreas Carlson, Director of Global Sales at Persson Innovation collated those thoughts and has put them together in this article.
The ongoing impact of the COVID pandemic on customer behavior has been significant. As a result, there was an immediate shift in the way people live and work, which has had a knock-on effect on consumption patterns and shopping habits.
Overall, shoppers continue to move online with no signs of the trend slowing down, increasing the volume of e-commerce transactions and shipments, presenting a new set of packaging challenges for businesses to address.
This is new business that is driving not just the usual e-commerce retailers but also new segments such as the Direct to Consumer (D2C) where businesses promote and sell a product directly to the end consumer, cutting out any intermediaries.
And this increase in the number of packaging shipments is happening at a time when there has been heightened concern from consumers with regards climate issues and sustainability.
Retailers are also now beginning to digest the feedback of consumers with regards reducing the amount of secondary packaging from carrier bags to the materials used to fill out the space in boxes.
For many companies’ product returns have become a considerable operating cost, one they are looking to minimize and to increase the number of happy and satisfied customers with effective packaging.
So, packaging has emerged over 2021 as a possible point of contention as consumers weigh up their choices with regards the environment, sustainable materials, and the impact that their consumption has.
Companies are now discovering that placing on-pack claims of sustainability and marketing this as a point of differentiation, show that sustainability-marketed products are growing faster than their conventional counterparts. (Source: HBR NYU Stern’s Center for Sustainable Business)
Consumer attitudes towards sustainability and how this can potentially influence their shopping behavior and habits has therefore moved further up the corporate agenda and will continue to do so in 2022.
Introducing new product benefits that consumers value such as sustainable packaging can also reduce shoppers’ sensitivity to price and increase loyalty, as they weigh up the environmental benefits.
For example, the Swedish pulp and paper manufacturer BillerudKorsnäs asked a panel of more than 3,000 consumers what the most important aspect of packaging development is. The top three answers were:
The panel found that 64% of respondents indicated that they may change a product/brand for another on the back of it being a more sustainable choice. The consumer panel also found that 72% of respondents were willing to pay more for a product that is packaged in a sustainable way.
Persson have also been able to track the growth in the number of enquiries for paper packaging that we receive to the growing concerns expressed by consumers of finding a viable alternative to plastic packaging.
Plastic since its introduction in the late 1800s has successfully helped consumers safely use products. From a raw materials standpoint because of its popularity, far too much plastic has consequently ended up as waste in the environment.
With today’s always-on media there has been increasing visibility of the environmental impact of packaging waste, buried in landfills, burned, or entering our oceans as plastic debris – all of which has fuelled a growing movement of “consumer pressure” demanding sustainable options for packaging.
Unfortunately, the situation with the COVID pandemic has disrupted the sorting and recycling of plastic, creating a shortage of raw materials. All of which have incentivized new plastic production.
Converters will also feel the pressure in 2022 as they must be more innovative with their packaging concepts, especially as consumers are willing to pay more for a product that is packaged in a sustainable way.
The common thread is that customers are demanding a more responsible approach to packaging waste and are keen to see manufacturers respond in an appropriate way – to act rather than just talk.
As consumers are far more swayed in their purchase decisions by online reviews, word-of-mouth (WOM) personal recommendations and referrals from within their own networks – all of which can be influenced by product packaging.
We continued in 2021 to deliver on our goal to develop the Persson proposition to offer high-quality sustainable paper handles, the no.1 choice for converters and FMCGs globally.
By highlighting our internal research and development skills and experience, we will continue to offer paper handles as a serious alternative packaging material to plastic.
We also recognize that changes in end-consumer demand require new ways of thinking about a packaging company’s focus and market proposition. A need that we can meet with our handles.
At Persson we are proud of our 40+ years of packaging experience that we can tap into to develop packaging handles that meet the growing needs of our customers globally, across all different types of businesses.
More and more as we talk to customers, we are utilizing our innovation team and their extensive research and development knowledge to find innovative solutions and manage new product development.
Our mission has always been to work together with our clients, partners, and network to be one step ahead. Taking an agile approach, we are able to move swiftly to respond to changes in demand. Something we see in the increase in requests for example from Asia and the different challenges that they help to address in their market.
With the support of our new owner Storskogen, they will help us scale for growth providing access to new competences to take us to the next level. Continuing to build on our handle product lines i.e., EcoGrip and ComfortGrip and adding new products with new added features and materials.
We will continue to try and make a difference to each of our customers through a quality product range of handles that drives customer satisfaction = customer loyalty = profits / higher margins.
As a global company with strong local roots we are lucky to have a dedicated team of professionals, who with their comprehensive skill-set take on everything from paper handle designs and production to ensuring we keep on top of our sustainability commitments.
Persson’s extensive global experience puts us in a strong position to develop a sustainable paper handle proposition for converters and FMCGs.
Growth in the e-commerce and D2C sector will continue to increase the number of shipments and a demand for more unique packaging solutions.
To accelerate efforts to grow their market share, e-commerce companies are reinventing the customer experience by providing easy-to-handle, e-commerce-specific packaging.
Plus, we see an opportunity with luxury packaging, using handles to uplift the whole purchase experience from the moment customers receive the item to unboxing, justifying a premium price point.
And the new challenges around waste management and recyclability are taking FMCG companies and retailers into new and unfamiliar territory where Persson can offer support.
2022 will be a new landscape for the packaging industry, a chance to embrace sustainability as consumer attitudes change and meet the new regulatory requirements as they are introduced.
It’s about time to re-think packaging. It’s time for our 100% Sustainable paper handle: EcoGrip!
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