There are a number of pressing challenges facing the UK packaging industry, including the difficulty in bringing new innovations to market and the need to create lighter, more environmentally friendly packs, without compromising on product protection.
It’s perhaps not entirely accurate to view these as two standalone problems – were it easier to launch innovations, it is likely a greater number of solutions that enable manufacturers to address both environment and product protection concerns would reach the market.
Changing the industry’s approach to innovation is easier said than done of course. There are some barriers holding back the UK industry that little can be done about, there are, however, things that we can do to change the UK approach to packaging design and innovation.
A fear of the unknown is one problem that has been allowed to hold back innovation. This isn’t something peculiar to packaging – a music purist will tell you that mainstream radio stations play the same old predictable music, and the innovative musicians who push boundaries never get the airplay they deserve. Within the packaging industry, innovation can be stifled by the fear that consumers will shun new pack designs, favouring familiar bottles, for example, as opposed to the same item in a new recyclable pouch.
Part of the reason this way of thinking has been allowed to take root is that it contains an element of truth. Despite this, retailers should remember that every item on the store shelf was once a new innovation and be bold when it comes to new pack designs that offer clear consumer benefits.
The fact that many brand owners use separate manufacturers for containers and lids can also hold up the innovation process. This is because packaging companies are required to spend considerable time explaining technological advantages with various marketing and product development teams.
Even prior to this stage, brands have too often focused on creating innovative packs and simply adding generic screw caps to these, which actually restricts the freedom of the design team and harms product functionality.
We of course shouldn’t downplay the difficulty the industry faces in balancing environmental and product protection benefits – while at the same time considering ease of use, seal integrity and affordability.
The point is making it easier for new innovations to reach the market goes some way to addressing these challenges – with the environment, consumers, retailers and the packaging industry set to benefit.