Where is food packaging headed post-COVID?

Posted on May 4, 2021 by

As we struggle to gain a foothold in the battle against COVID-19, it is appropriate to ask where food packaging is heading. While last year was bad for almost all businesses, grocery sales saw remarkable growth. But did that growth result from new, unique or innovative packaging, or did it come from a sort of “take anything you can get” hoarding mentality borne out of fear of limited supplies and bolstered by not knowing how long people would be at home surviving on home cooking? CPG sales dramatically increased mostly in distribution – to getting products on shelf more than putting new packaging on shelf.

What became the important trend, in my opinion, was for companies to use strategic marketing to focus on communicating functional nutrition points to support healthy living during the pandemic rather than on revisions or upgrades to packaging. As supplies diminished on shelf, consumers were forced to try new brands, which increased the conflict between known and trusted brands and challenger brands, private label or store brand products.

COVID-19 dramatically changed consumer buying patterns and the impact is still being felt. So, now that retail supply and demand has stabilized, it is important to understand that there is no more “one size fits all” in smart marketing strategies and return on investment. With brand and product recognition solidified, ask yourself, “is now really the time to change what consumers have come to trust, value and easily recognize by revising our packaging and brand identity, or is it appropriate to direct our efforts to effective marketing?”

Curiously, despite the increase in online grocery sales, in-store remains the predominant way consumers shop for groceries. Packaging continues to be the single most important reflection of your brand expression and it is critical it reflects a visual style that is consistent with your brand personality. Consumers have become comfortable in “looking” for your product in what is often a competitive and cluttered shelf environment. If you have survived the COVID era and you do consider changing or updating your packaging, do so with a clear focus on sustaining consumer engagement with your brand purpose and with the commitment of making every aspect of the package go the extra mile to validate the consumer’s purchase of the product.

Remember, you have most likely gained consumer value and trust by the fact you have survived and remained on shelf, so hopefully, you will create a new package that will transmit that same relationship easily and with relevance. Supported by a well-integrated marketing strategy, you will create a road map to success.

If you need help navigating your packaging decisions, contact us at [email protected]  We would love to start a conversation with you! Throughout our 65 years of supporting customers with consumer brands large and small, we apply our experience and expertise to the entire process to create efficient and effective solutions. 


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