[REPLAY] How can new international standards be reconciled with local consumer expectations in terms of packaging?


On 5 December 2023, ALL4PACK EMBALLAGE PARIS organised a webinar on the subject of reconciling new international standards with local consumer expectations in terms of packaging. Soha Atallah (Vice-President of the World Packaging Organisation) and Sylvia Vitale Rotta (President and Founder of the Team Creatif Group agency) took part in the event. Here’s a look back at their discussions.

Packaging: how are companies in the sector changing?

By way of introduction, Soha Atallah reviews the various changes currently impacting the world of packaging. According to the expert, these changes are driven by 6 complementary factors:

  • Political and economic: a number of external factors (inflation, war in Ukraine, shortage of natural resources, etc.) are now forcing consumers to take a closer look at product prices. Companies must therefore seek to reduce prices, and this means introducing packaging that is less expensive, uses single-material solutions or has new functionalities.
  • Societal: while 62% of American consumers say they prefer to buy products from brands that align with their personal values, Soha Atallah goes further, explaining that “packaging has now become the messenger for socially responsible initiatives and actions”. This observation should encourage companies to demonstrate greater honesty, transparency and authenticity, but above all to communicate more about their commitments.
  • Technological: QR codes, social networks and artificial intelligence have opened up new horizons for companies. While these technologies can enable companies to reconnect with consumers (additional information, new functions, personalisation, etc.), they must also be understood by them.
  • Environmental: almost 1/4 of consumers say they have a poor understanding of the issues surrounding the environment and packaging. Companies that use packaging therefore have a duty to inform consumers, but they must also make the reduction, reuse and recycling of packaging a central part of their packaging offers.
  • Legal: the legislative authorities in different countries around the world are becoming increasingly critical of the excesses of the packaging world. France, for example, has banned certain types of packaging, forcing companies like McDonald’s to offer reusable crockery in its restaurants.

For the Vice-President of the WPO, while these changes are shaking up the world of packaging, they are by no means insurmountable. She cites as examples several brands that have won the Worldstar Global Packaging Awards and successfully adapted to this new context: Ren Skincare and its mono-material packaging, Trivium Packaging, which offers QR Codes to ensure product traceability, and Nestlé and its Smarties packets made from fully recyclable paper.

Also read: Roland Lescure: “The packaging sector is at the heart of the challenges of circularity and decarbonisation of industry”.

Design for better packaging

After briefly outlining the raison d’être of the EPDA and Team Créatif Group, Sylvia Vitale Rotta returned to a paradox specific to the world of packaging. Although packaging is often criticised, particularly for its environmental impact, it is nonetheless essential. “Food safety, access to resources… People need packaging! Without it, some people wouldn’t survive […] We all have a responsibility to make packaging more sustainable“, she explains.

The expert goes on to explain that while the proliferation of international regulations and labels tends to make consumers’ understanding of packaging more complex, many of them have already integrated sustainability into their daily lives. According to the survey “The French and better consumption, a new balance” conducted by Opinion Way on behalf of Team Creatif, 64% of French people say they are prepared to abandon their favourite brands if they do not commit to a sustainable approach. Better still, they would accept a price increase of 6.3% on the initial price for products with eco-designed packaging (biodegradable, zero plastic, etc). And they are prepared to go even further:

  • 88% say they are in favour of returning their used bottles to points of sale.
  • 86% say they are prepared to choose less practical packaging if it generates less waste.
  • 69%, including 91% of Gen Z and 84% of millenials, say they would like to buy more in bulk or in batches in the future.

With this in mind, Sylvia Vitale Rotta goes on to cite several examples of companies that have succeeded in making their packaging more sustainable:

  • Bonduelle: in France, the industrial group is working to limit the use of resources in the design of its packaging. Its packaging incorporates up to 25% less plastic and uses up to half as much ink.
  • Badoit: this subsidiary of the Evian group has chosen to abandon its coloured bottles in favour of new transparent PET containers in order to improve their recyclability.
  • Actimel: by changing their yoghurt bottles and removing the label around them, the Danone group brand has succeeded in making them more recognisable, while saving almost 107 tonnes of plastic a year.
  • Pepsico: the American giant is making containers and content coincide by offering fully compostable packaging for some of its plant-based products.

In conclusion, adapting to new international standards and local consumer expectations is undeniably a challenge for packaging companies. However, this challenge can also bring a definite competitive advantage to brands that know how to meet it. It is with this in mind that ALL4PACK EMBALLAGE PARIS will continue in 2024, whether through the show itself or its many annual events, to highlight the virtuous companies in the industry.

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