Covid-19 and consumer behaviour
There have been several socio-cultural changes since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has impacted consumer preferences across the world. “Among these changing consumer behaviour patterns, sustainability and hygiene are at an all-time high as consumers have become more conscious about what they consume and how it impacts the environment,” says Preeti Vyas, founder and chairperson, Vyas Giannetti Creative.
According to Vyas, packaging plays an important role in this increasing demand for hygiene, as it reaffirms customers on their choices by highlighting certain ingredients, relaying important messages as well as helping the product stand out on a store shelf or online catalogue.
Meanwhile, the other growing trend – sustainability – focuses on using less plastic and more eco-friendly materials for product packaging. “Minimalism is a trend that is here to stay and it has certainly influenced the product packaging.” Vyas says that the formula to design a sustainable package is simple – try and use low pollutant and non-biodegradable materials and if possible, substitute these for ecofriendly or even recycled raw material. “This switch will surely do wonders for brands and their product line.”
eCommerce firms to push sustainability
FMCG major Amazon recently announced the expansion of its Packaging-Free Shipping (PFS) initiative in more than 100 cities in the country (PFS refers to orders shipped in its original packaging without secondary or additional packaging). Meanwhile, accelerating its plastic waste reduction efforts in India, eCommerce firm Flipkart announced that it has achieved an overall reduction of 50% plastic in packaging across its supply chain. These are the steps in the right direction, says Vyas. “
eCommerce companies need to be held accountable for their impact on the environment and should ideally work with brands to develop seamless packaging that doesn’t require a second or third layer.” She explains, “At the end of the day, product packaging goes inside a brown package from an eCommerce firm’s distribution centres. And the factors of touch, feel and colours are revealed once the consumer tear’s through the outer box. So irrespective of what brands do, they are ultimately masked by eCommerce layering and it is up to these companies and their stance on sustainability to ensure that the product is delivered with minimalistic packaging.”
“The formula to design a sustainable package is simple – try and use low pollutant and nonbiodegradable materials and if possible, substitute these for eco-friendly or even recycled raw material.”
Package functionality and product launches
Will the growth of eCommerce trends shift the focus of the package design to what appears on the screen or the shelf rather than its functionality? Not at all, says Vyas. “The boom of eCommerce only means that products have to stand out in online catalogues as well as on store shelves. Functionality also plays an equally important role and while we may see it take a backseat to the aesthetic aspect of packaging, the emphasis on functionality is not something that is going to go away.
Products with poor functionality in terms of packaging are not going to do very well in the long run as ease of usage holds equal importance.” In terms of product launches, Vyas believes that virtual reality and experiences are the logical way forward.
“We will see a large number of launches, demos and even productrelated customer experiences in the future. All of this designed to give the customer an up, close and personal feel of the product as well as the packaging.” Brands are ramping up ideas for innovative product launches on Instagram or Snapchat and other social media extensions. “However, it is too early to predict whether social media will be the core focus of packaging, but this is gaining momentum. So, it would be safe to say that it will have equal importance and emphasis as will the impact that packaging needs to make on store shelves.”
Eco-friendly packages considered ‘cool’
Plastic alternatives are generally used because they are cheaper, long-lasting in terms of shelf life and are easy to produce. While paper alternatives with barrier properties similar to plastic are generally expensive in comparison and their shelf life is also questionable in certain instances. However, with the emergence of Gen Z perceiving eco-friendly packages as ‘cool’ – a key trend is on the rise says, Vyas. “This perception shift could hopefully lead to the demise of plastic use in packaging because customers are also now aware of the adverse effects of packaging on products specifically in the case of food or beverages. Thus, they will soon start preferring eco-friendly and sustainable packaging over the alternatives.
The influential thought leader
Preeti Vyas founded VGC in 1997 with the vision to transform the marketplace through strategic integrated design and innovative communication offerings. She is recognised as a successful creative entrepreneur and thought leader, who combines fine strategic thinking with sharp creative concepts. Vyas was recognised as one of the 50 most influential women by Verve magazine and ranked among the 50 most influential women in media, marketing and advertising by Impact magazine.