There is talk of "new normal". This means that our life must, from now on, consider the unforeseen, the new epidemics and economic crises as "normal" facts. The uncertainty and new learning that this situation has brought us must be incorporated and will be part of life.
The behavior of maintaining safety stocks should remain a precautionary attitude. Therefore, packaging that favors storage and offers a longer shelf life should benefit from this context - the latter is highlighted in the more attentive reading of the labeling statements.
Delivery, which was already growing, gained an impressive dimension in this crisis, as it was extremely favored by the quarantine and the closing of trade. E-commerce and online sales will become practically mandatory for most B2C businesses and product delivery packaging will gain strategic importance, function and meanings, which will make them increasingly relevant marketing tools for companies.
In e-commerce, packaging cannot just "load" products: they are the ones who make contact with people in the physical world and promote the first experience with the merchandise. They are the ones that promote a happy ending to the purchase process by closing, at the time of delivery, all expectations and natural uncertainties of this type of trade. Therefore, they must incorporate new functions, such as "talking" with the consumer, establishing empathy with the brand, clarifying more about the product purchased, strengthening relationships and starting the next sale.
New habits derived from confinement, quarantine, home office and unemployment will cause people to establish different relationships with the home and with everything related to it.
Health care will take on a new dimension and should open opportunities in the pharmaceutical, hygiene and cleaning segments. The habit of washing hands, widely promoted in communication against the coronavirus, makes room for, for example, antibacterial soaps with alcohol gel and other innovations derived from health concerns. These products should gain more and more space, and pharmacies will be a competitive field that will require the maximum attention of packaging manufacturers.
Caring for the hygiene of the home, where people will spend more time and which have become a kind of safe haven that must be equipped, stocked, cleaned and maintained, will receive extra attention - packaging in this category will increasingly promote cleaning habits, disinfection and asepsis.
Cardboard packaging, for example, should be better used in exploring the six sides that they offer for printed communication. Everything that can make the consumer know more and be sure about what he consumes, will be useful in the packaging.
The movement of small businesses is already happening and the numbers show that small companies need access to industries capable of providing quality packaging in short runs.
Being available to companies to buy in small quantities at affordable prices represents a golden opportunity for the packaging industry. Take advantage of the openness generated by the pandemic to deepen its presence with small businesses, both those that already exist, that are already millions, as well as those that will emerge as a direct result of the crisis.
The fingerprint must be looked at carefully. Practical packaging, easy to buy, use and sell, are solutions that can be used at home, garages and small warehouses, without the need for large investments, are widely favored at this time and require special attention from the production chain.
Post-crisis packaging design
Packaging is an expression of a people's material culture. It reflects the stage of cultural and industrial development of society and, after all that has happened, people will like to find packaging with a new design, which expresses the victorious spirit of those who overcame the crisis. Companies that take the lead and present their products in a new, more colorful and optimistic look, will open the gap from what was left behind.
Normally the redesign of the packaging should happen from time to time to keep the visual presentation of the product fresh and vitalized, but now, the redesign will become a marketing and communication opportunity for companies that are willing to go ahead and renew the design of their packaging. . The opportunity for the industry, in this case, is to offer the suggestion and help customers in the quick renewal of their packaging, streamlining processes and facilitating whatever is possible. Strategic alliances with design agencies can help win new customers and strengthen ties with current customers. Just remembering that care must be taken not to mischaracterize the previous container so that the consumer no longer recognizes it.
These are some observations that I think are important. It is worth remembering that "no product competes in the market", the product competes in the category and this is where opportunities are found and realized. As we are seeing, the crisis does not affect all categories in the same way, some are even favored, as is the case with alcohol gel, food, hygiene and cleaning products, pharmacy products, food service and pet food.
My recommendation is that the packaging industry put its focus on the categories where products compete and start conducting field studies more frequently to observe "in loco" what is happening.
Every packaging manufacturer needs to check if the packaging they produce is better, worse or equal to the packaging of competitors, who are exposed to it. If your packaging is "inferior", failure will be a real threat. Crisis is not new, we have gone through others and we will go through this as well. It is important to have an attitude not to suffer the crisis, but to appropriate the teachings and, above all, the opportunities. After all, if you haven't seen an opportunity in this crisis, it's because you haven't look at right!
* Fábio Mestriner is a consultant at Ibema, designer, professor of the graduate course in Packaging Engineering at IMT Mauá and author of the books Packaging Design - Advanced Course, Strategic Packaging Management and Packaging Innovation - Practical Method.