According to Tim Stewart, group executive: packaging at Novus Holdings, consumers are increasingly looking at the entire package before concluding their purchasing decision – from the item’s package right through to its label.
Packaging is becoming as important as the goods that it carries to the ever-more aware consumer. With a bigger need for customisation and personalisation, as well as a drive towards environmentally-conscious goods, consumers are demanding more from packaging and printed goods such as labels.
Trend #1: smarter choices with existing packaging options
‘In 2018 we experienced unprecedented fuel hikes, a technical recession as well as a VAT hike. These costs are being passed onto the consumer as goods and products become more expensive, and the cost of living escalates. Yet, at the same time, consumers are demanding more from packaging, such as more sustainable and waste reduction options,’ said Stewart.
A study conducted in 2018 by EcoFocus Worldwide found that grocery shoppers in 2018 have greater expectations of packaging than ever before – especially when it relates to healthy food and beverages. Consumers were demanding not only clean labels and food products, but also clean packaging.
Stewart says that while consumer concerns regarding reducing waste may drive new opportunities in the packaging space, many sustainable and waste reducing packaging alternatives are still in infant stages in South Africa; while those that do exist are more expensive to produce. The bulk of these costs are passed on to the consumer in the form of higher priced goods. This presents a catch-22 for consumers, who are both cost-conscious and want their packaging to align to their environmentally-aware lifestyles.
‘Consumers will need to make smarter choices when it comes to packaging. Take the plastic bag for example. Research by the Environmental Policy Research Unit at the University of Cape Town suggests that South Africans use about eight billion plastic bags annually. This means that plastic won’t be disappearing anytime soon,’ said Stewart.
A smarter choice could be to use a 100% recyclable plastic bag. ITB Plastics, a division of Novus Holdings, has produced a 100% recyclable LLD plastic bag that is also washable. This bag is made with recycled material; is thicker than an ordinary plastic grocery bag (a sturdier product with added strength – robust for carrying up to 20kg) and; it can be used up to 200 times (before being handed in for responsible recycling). It can also carry frozen and wet products without disintegrating. It is also cheaper than cloth bags.
‘It is up to us to use plastic bags responsibly rather than discarding it where it will end up as pollution. Using a plastic bag as a bin liner is one way that will allow it to enter the waste stream, where it is easily retrieved by recyclers.’
Trend #2: convenience drives the need for more flexible packaging
According to research by consulting firm Deloitte, the global flexible packaging market is expected to grow by 5.2% annually through 2022 due to the very many benefits that this packaging offers, such as aesthetic appeal, longer shelf life, lower weight and ease of use. This finding is echoed by L.E.K Consulting, a global management firm that in 2018 surveyed 200-plus brand managers who identified the increased need for flexible packaging.
‘Consumers continue to have a great need for convenience solutions that can also guarantee the freshness of products, which is driving the growing trend for flexible packaging such as pouches and bags,’ said Stewart.
Trend #3: more designer, personalised packaging and printing
Stewart says that more and more consumers are looking for personalised, bespoke options when it comes to labels, packaging and printed material.
‘The trend toward mass personalisation is being driven by the advent of targeted online content, putting consumers in the driver’s seat. Consumers want something unique to them. Social media, the advent of digital content and how users interact with it have changed the type of experiences that people want.’
At the end of 2018, Novus Holdings launched a limited edition, bespoke gift wrap conceptualised by SA musician Jimmy Nevis to capitalise on the trend of consumers’ need for unique goods.
‘In addition, we have seen that the humble label is being used as an extension of companies’ marketing efforts. Personalised labelling – the trend that sees brand owners and consumers personalise a label with a message or an image – will continue to gain traction in 2019,’ concluded Stewart.