Converting Case Study

How packaging prototyping is helping firms adapt to trends in the Covid-19 era By Roland DG EMEA marketing director Stephen Davis


ovid-19 may have halted business for many industries all over the world, but the packaging industry has largely

weathered the storm. In fact, it has been cast into the spotlight, with companies often having to reconsider packaging needs to suit health and safety requirements, the shift to online retail, and environmental concerns. With so much pressure on brands to adapt their packaging to suit current – and future – consumer demands, packaging prototyping has never been more vital.

As the pandemic continues, brands must be even more mindful of how they package their products, using a consumer- safety-first mentality. Despite the recent focus on sustainable packaging, during the pandemic there has been a rise in single-use plastics, due to the demand for products with packaging that can be wiped down or thrown away immediately to minimise potential spread of Covid-19. For example, the rise of the takeaway during lockdown, as restaurants were forced to close their doors to dine-in customers, has only increased the demand for this type of single-use packaging. Despite this temporary shift, creating sustainable packaging will be a long-term goal for companies in most sectors, especially since the Plastic Packaging Tax is due to be introduced in April next year. As a result, adaptability will be key for packaging professionals, as sustainability begins to take centre stage.

Packaging prototyping will help companies on their journey towards sustainability, allowing them to test designs on sustainable materials, and reduce waste in the long run, if they consistently get prototyping right.

When lockdowns and the closure of brick and mortar stores forced consumers all over the world to flock online to make purchases, many companies began to delve into the realm of e-commerce for the first time. Online retail presents its own packaging challenges, since products must be updated to be ship-ready, tamper proof, and to have a direct-to-consumer design.

With increased online competition, and no shortage of new and exciting products, brands must put extra thought into their packaging to make sure they stand out in the saturated e-commerce space. Pandemic aside, the 21st century has heralded an age of increased reliance on convenience. The FMCG industry has felt the impact of this, with consumers now demanding portable ready-to-eat meals and individually-packaged portions, for example. Prototypes have always been a significant part of product development, since interaction with packaging is often a consumer’s first impression of a product. The visual identity, colour, design and texture can make or break a product if a consumer picks up an item or clicks on it online, and only from that point will they consider making

a purchase. Therefore, the ability to quickly produce and compare prototypes to ensure the packaging is favourable to modern consumers’ tastes is essential. Traditionally, prototyping has been a labour-intensive and costly process that required special skills. Without the correct equipment, prototypes can be inaccurate and simply a ‘representation’ printed on paper, which fails to capture the full spectrum of colours and texture of a final product. This is where UV and eco-solvent technologies can open a whole new world of possibilities for packaging prototyping professionals. UV print technologies can create original patterns and textures, print on different substrates, and streamline pre-press and proofing processes. Meanwhile, eco- solvent technologies with white and metallic ink introduces the possibility of producing labelling with real impact.

Not only do these printing and cutting technologies allow for truly accurate prototypes, they can considerably reduce production time, allowing decision makers to view three or four different designs in the time it would usually take to see one. With such a rapidly-changing packaging climate, having the ability to produce prototypes accurately and quickly will undeniably set companies apart.

In the world of Covid-19, packaging is a valuable tool to ensure product and consumer safety, increased shelf life, and safe delivery. Brands must see this as an opportunity to build and retain a loyal customer base by proving that they can adapt to changing packaging needs and put the consumer first.

u 14 November 2020

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