Enercon’s Todd Krupa moderated the session, which took place on September 6 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare. Thomai Serdari, a marketing and brand strategist who also serves as an adjunct professor at NYU, was joined by Troy Johnson, a member of Schawk’s SGK team, and Doug Weiss, business development and brand support manager at Kodak.
While many might think that the internet is having a negative impact on labels and packaging, Serdari took the opposite approach. “Everything happening online and through digital channels is affecting–in a positive way–how the field of packaging is evolving,” said Serdari.
Even though online purchasing seems like it has taken over from print, Johnson cited statistics that prove the contrary. In the US, 1.4% of all sales come through e-commerce–meaning that the vast majority still takes place on the shelf in the store. By 2025, the world is targeting 9% of all sales being conducted online.
There are regions that are ahead of the US, too. South Korea and the United Kingdom both do more online shopping.
According to Johnson, both the digital and physical channels need to be managed, and synergy is critical. Johnson said that 81% of consumers research online before buying, and 54% of survey respondents cite consistency between digital and in-store channels as the most important aspect of the digital retail experience.
Consumers are becoming more demanding about their purchasing and experiences, as brands try to establish better relationships with customers. Meanwhile, the internet is allowing new businesses to crop up, and they require their own unique packaging to stand out on crowded shelves.
“PepsiCo took packages that were one and two colors previously and moved to eight, nine, and even 10-color designs to continue building that brand equity, as well as consistency and trust, that consumers have come to know,” said Johnson.
Since consumers have a multitude of choices, brands are required to generate intriguing narratives. According to Serdari, brands are going directly to the consumer through digital channels. The powerful stories that consumers see online must be condensed into labels and packaging. There is also a strong trend toward niche brands, where companies develop products emphasizing individuality, customization and specialized branding.
Johnson added that inconsistencies in brand presentation create confusion, doubt and less of a conversion rate. By offering multiple product views–with synchronized online and physical packaging–increase sales by 58%.
Optimizing the mobile and online experience is another way to enhance the consumer experience. Johnson added that Unilever’s online sales are growing at twice the rate of the global e-commerce market.
Brand owners can find success by offering retail sites that are searchable based on product attributes, comparison functionality, shopping based on consumer preferences, and product pages that are recognized by search engines.
“As a consumer, I want to understand that same product I see online is the same product I’m getting at home,” explained Johnson. “When we have something that looks so completely different, it doesn’t engage and starts to erode the equity the brand has built. Brands have made a concerted effort to spend a lot more money and time in thinking about what a package will be moving forward.”
Niche brands are proliferating every day, and they are afforded a larger online presence. In addition to individuality, brands are emphasizing textures, colors, transparency, materials and shapes in their printed products.
Serdari categorized individuality in three ways: bio-science, emotions, intellectual. Bio-science incorporates the label’s textures, patterns, colors, while colors and the sensitivity of the substrates are designed to speak to the consumers’ emotions. “Emotions play a huge role that evolve between the consumer and the brand,” explained Serdari. “Younger consumers, millennials specifically, are a much more emotional generation than baby boomers. This can be expressed with a different approach in aesthetics.”
Another trend that Serdari sees is transparency, especially with beauty labels and packaging. Transparency is a medium that can convey richly-colored products, impressing quality upon consumers. Not only does transparency allow the customer to see the product, it gives them–millennials specifically–a great look at the environmental friendliness of the package.
Labels are also seeing experimentation with new typography. Brands like Google and YouTube have created their own fonts to further establish branding. “Media companies are inventing new types of fonts for their messaging, and I’m pretty confident that a lot of strong brands are going to do the same,” said Serdari. “This provides an opportunity for details and experimentation.”
For an overview of the TLMI printTHINK Summit, click here.