Packaging Industry: Digital Boost as a Result of the Crisis?

The strategy and marketing consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners conducted a survey at the beginning of 2020, which asked managers in the paper and packaging sector about trends in the industry.  As in previous years, sustainability and digitalization dominated the trend radar. According to a mood barometer conducted by the management consultancy during the coronavirus crisis in May 2020, the effects of the pandemic could force the industry to rethink its processes.

Customers and retailers are increasingly demanding sustainable packaging, but only 12 percent of companies surveyed stated they took the initiative to promote this topic out of their own vision. In addition, more than half of companies have yet to develop a clear strategy for sustainability and have only introduced various individual initiatives.

“Again and again, we’re seeing that sustainability is often viewed as a ‘hygiene factor,’ one that is interesting to customers and only serves to create a positive image for the company. It is quickly labeled a marketing topic and not actively promoted as a growth path to, for example, develop new products for the mass market,” said Dr. Daniel Bornemann, partner, Simon-Kucher.

Sustainability has become less of a priority in recent weeks, primarily due to change in demand behavior and strong refocusing on security of supply and hygiene. However, the study results show that over a quarter of B2B customers are now willing to pay more for sustainable products.

Digitalization continues to be a major topic in the industry, primarily affecting company processes. For 37 percent of those surveyed, digitalization plays the most important role in sales processes, closely followed by production and logistics processes.

The study results suggest that sales teams are also reluctant to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by digitalization. While the importance of eCommerce is increasing in the industry, around 40 percent of companies surveyed stating they will continue to see traditional wholesale and direct sales as predominant sales channels compared to just 11 percent for eCommerce.

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