Top Packaging Summit – and the future for consumer packaging
222 people from 13 countries representing 120 companies or organisations got together in Malmö, on the 20th of October, for Top Packaging Summit 2011.
The conference was arranged by the packaging network Packbridge in co-operation with Skåne Food Innovation Network and Invest in Skåne. The result was a Nordic forum on a new and high level both from a content point of view and from the number of delegates. Top Packaging Summit 2011 developed into a high level conference where views were shared about the future for the packaging industry by leading brand owners, national and international retailers, trend analysts and the leading packaging manufacturers.
The presentations are available using this link: http://toppackagingsummit.mentorcommunications.se/
The theme for the day was “The future and possibilities for consumer packaging”. The day was opened by Per Nyström, CEO at Flextrus and also chairman of Packbridge. He stated that it is important for the Nordic packaging industry to prioritise R&D in order to make quantum leaps, or competition, in particular from Asia, will take over. We can’t beat them with cost but through collaboration in effective networks like Packbridge. One of the challenges with consumer packaging is that the consumers and the brand owners expect more, but at less cost.
“You could look at Apple as business model with their ability to take massive steps and to create new markets. The packaging industry might not be able to act as fast but we will have to do all we can, to keep competition at bay.”
James Walton from British IGD, who is monitoring the retail industry, pointed out the fact that we are dealing with problems that have been built up over a long period of time. The European consumers have for a long time been borrowing to support their consumption. However, in these financially unstable times spending is reduced and consumption is generally declining.
Less consumption affects the entire value chain, not the least the packaging industry. Diminishing demand and inflation are serious problems that we are facing. James Walton also talked about the importance to manage price, marketing and supply
chain efficiency and, of course, to understand the needs of the consumer’s.
Teddy Falkenek from ICA startled the audience by declaring that the future for packaging was – no packaging. He gave international examples from store concepts where products are sold loose. “People don’t want too much packaging and from ICA we are doing what we can to minimise the use”, Teddy Falkenek said.
At ICA they do however believe in a future of interactive packaging, using QR codes, RFID or printed electronics. They would also like to see the use of refill packaging to grow again. “We basically like packaging, but we want development and to progress, and we feel that we need help from the packaging industry”, he concluded.
Rickard Albin from Campbells Soup gave a well appreciated and witty presentation where he pointed out that, when it comes to the use of packaging, the brand owners are not always doing everything right. Most of the complaints are actually justified and it is the brand owner’s own fault that things don’t improve. Malfunctioning packaging include unclear information and instructions together with the lack of convenience and usability of chosen packaging solutions.
“For a brand owner the packaging is in many occasions the only way to communicate with the consumer. But are we using the opportunity? The clear answer to the question is, no. We are not doing enough when it comes to food packaging.”
Charles Brand from Tetra Pak gave his view on the drivers of the industry and brought up innovation as the key for success. He pointed out nine drivers: a growing and ageing population, urbanisation, growing purchase power, a growing middle class, globalisation, raw materials, environment and technology. “When it comes to innovation I like to think of the Yin and Yang model, where the one half stands for doing the right things and the other represents doing things right”, he said.
“In a complex world and a need to deliver across the globe, the industry must become more process oriented and implement best practice as far as you can to avoid inventing the wheel again. You do this by doing the right things.”
Linda Björk from the packaging design agency Amore gave us an interesting speech where she took a designer view on packaging trends. She emphasized that all successful design is founded on a solid basis of Art, Science and Soul. “If we incorporate the three concepts in our work we can go far, it is important to merge the concepts into one.”
Linda Björk also mentioned the We-trend, where consumers seek the comfort of belonging to a community. An increasing number of brand owners are developing their consumer communication towards a We-message. “A good example, here in Sweden, is the local dairy Hjordnära in Hjo. They are using the packaging to invite you as a consumer to the dairy farm where the milk was produced. Also Skånemejerier, another dairy, has started to use more personal messages to the consumers.”
“The personal relation to the consumer in general is getting more important to packaging design.”
Another trend is that today, everything is possible. You can as a designer do almost anything and get really interesting results. This is a trend created by the young super stars of the music industry. They are not hesitating to dress up in combinations that would have been impossible a few years ago.
When Carrefour, the global retailer, decided to introduce an internal packaging design function to support their line of private labels they hired Philippe Picaud. He vividly described how he started up, alone, in this enormous organisation of 500.000 people on only 5 square meters of the 14.000.000 square meters available. The budget wasn’t impressive in the first days but within two years the design team grew by 2200% and they now have 300 sqm to their disposal.
“It is not an easy task to design packaging to consumers around the world and to really get to them,” said Philippe Picaud and added that “Today it is not enough to satisfy customer’s and consumer’s needs, you also have to deliver a wow-experience and every day pleasure.”
Philippe Picaud and his team have now built up their own profile for Carrefour’s own brands and also got the management team to realise the strategic value of design. In his presentation he gave examples of the hurdles he met along the way and also what obstacles to expect in the design work of the future.
Ron Exner from Kraft Foods told us about how to drive a sustainable growth with value adding packaging. He gave examples of how sales of Kraft’s brands, like Milka or Philadelphia Cream Cheese, improved by redesigning the packaging to become more convenient for the consumer. This could be in the form of a smart re-sealing function or a new packaging design that increases shelf life. Thought trough display packaging was another example of successful launches.
Jay Gouliard was until a few months ago working for Unilever but is now with Avery Dennison. He talked about innovation the traditional way where the events occur stepwise from the raw material supplier via converter and consumer to waste handling.
The new process is not in the shape of a chain but rather a network where FMCG producers are in the centre working together with drivers of innovation around them.
Luc Sauban from Sealed Air made a presentation where he told us how to make your packaging a hero and what is demanded from packaging, both from the retailers’ and from the consumers’ view points . The demand on food products from the retail side is that they need to look fresh for longer, fit the cabinets, attract consumers and to minimise food waste.
The consumers are, not unexpected, asking for convenience but also swift cooking. He gave examples of solutions from a Sealed Air perspective.
Fabio Peyer finally, gave the audience Amcor’s view of how to address the sustainability issues in developing new packaging.
As you can tell, Top Packaging Summit 2011 was loaded with presentations pointing out the opportunities and also the obstacles ahead for the industry. This was what Felix
Helander from Packbridge talked about referring to his report covering the Swedish packaging industry, where we are today and where we are heading.
Overall this was a vibrant and exciting day, here confirmed by a few voices from the audience.
”Excellent event yesterday. Thought provoking content from technical experts. May never look at packaging the same way again.” James Walton, IGD
“A remembrance of a conference not only encompasses the range of ideas that are transferred, but also the completeness of the arrangements and the smoothness with which the conference process is handled from signup to departure. The Top Packaging Summit excelled in all these tasks! The takeaway ideas from all the speakers and program moderator were such that they maintained total audience attention from beginning to end. High expectations have been already created for the 2012 conference.” Larry Gruendike, Far East Ventures, LLC, Redmond, WA, USA
“It was long ago that I was at a seminar that ran so well from start to finish. From a very good networking event in pleasant surroundings to the seminar with presentations of the highest class, a well prepared moderator with thought through follow up interviews, it was clear as a bell. A much better level of questions than you would otherwise get …” Anders Eliasson, Sweden Invest
“It was a very pleasant experience from my side, having to express the hurdles more than the “beautifull face” of the (company) story. There was a lot of energy within your
organisation and good speakers too.” Philppe Picaud, Design Director, Carrefour
Top Packaging Summit will be back next year, the 18th of October 2012.
I hope to see you there again.