Sasine said, “The way we buy is changing, with massive shifts in consumer behavior, shopper preferences and retailer strategies. The immediacy of mobile commerce is making the traditional shopping mall obsolete, and the broadening of e-commerce offerings is threatening to do the same fate with traditional grocers and superstores.” He added, “For decades, the printed or written data provided by labels and packaging have been integral to closing the sale with consumers in the retail environment.”
Drawing on his broad experience in both the packaging and retail industries, Sasine shared his insights into the role of labels and packaging play in the new commercial environment and discussed ways that printers and packagers can thrive.
Sasine pointed out that over the last 7-10 years, there’s been a massive shift in how consumers shop. “There are more ways for them to spend their money, with more ease and connectivity, exploration and transparency,” he said. “Packaging today is there to convey, communicate (product identification, safety information), convince (present brand promises), call to action and drive after purchase consumption,” he said, adding that the latter is especially significant because that is what prompts the all-important repurchase.
With regard to future opportunities and threats, Sasine noted the growth of non-traditional retailers and hard discounters, shifting transportation methods, individuality and the need for small-batch, short run packaging, speed to shelf and to point-of-sale, as well as sustainability.
When it comes to sustainability, Sasine noted, there is a "perception versus reality" issue. “Sustainability and how it is understood is increasingly effecting the consumers’ decision making process,” he said. “Millennial Moms will make most of the decisions effecting your business today and for the next 30 years, and they look for companies that support their values.”
Sasine added, “Successful packaging innovation needs to support and respond to evolving retail strategies of individuality an customization.”
Recycling Trends in the US and Future Outlook
According to Sasine, consumers are increasing adopting and improving their recycling habits. However, he said, “We lack nationwide consistency – what is collected, how it is collected and where recycling information is publicized.”
For plastic bottles, Sasine said, the nationwide recycling rate is only 31.1%, PET - 30.1%, HPDE Bottles - 30.1%, PP Bottles - 34.4%. PPET and HDPE represent 97% of all plastic bottles produced, he noted.
In 2016, about 10% of retailing was done via e-commerce. Sasine predicts that by 2026 that number will be 40%. He concluded, “There will be more packages traveling to more destinations. Distribution centers will be replaced by fulfillment centers, and there will be a transformation of the ‘store’ experience as well as the delivery model.”
Kathleen Scully contributed to this report.