• The Cabinet

Branding and innovation gifts this Christmas and New Year

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to affect our everyday lives, the impact of it continues to evolve. As the public adapt to new ways of living and working, brands, agencies and marketeers alike are also finding alternative ways to design, brand and innovate.

With winter fast approaching and the impending festive celebrations get nearer and nearer, many of us are wondering what Christmas 2020 is going to look like. As conversations have been rife, it got us thinking – obviously whether we’re going to be limited to a 6 person Christmas is the main point of concern, but among us designers the conversation soon turned to packaging. We’re used to sitting around passing the ever-decreasing size tin of ‘Roses’ around the room and plunging our hands into a never-ending bowl of Christmas tree shaped pretzels. However, with hygiene and COVID-19 rules restricting our sharing behaviours, are we looking at a more ‘single serve’ Christmas?

And more so than that, how is COVID-19 going to impact the future of packaging for years to come?

We began to discuss the branding and innovation impacts and opportunities this could pose for brands;

Firstly, we’ve been talking a lot about consumer shifts. From consumer, category and channel shifts we’ve seen many behaviours change over the last few months, that at the beginning of the year no one could’ve predicted. Consumers have become more price sensitive - with the uncertainty of jobs and businesses deflating, people are watching the pennies a bit more and saving where they can. They’re moving to e-commerce, either opting to have at home delivery or in some cases click and collect. This majorly reduces the customers chance to browse the products physically, and therefore eliminates dwell time instore, and the chance for brands to position themselves for impulse purchases at the tills.

Packaging is traditionally designed for when consumers are browsing the shelves in-store, when they’ve got a chance to stand out on shelf and enable the customer to pick up and feel the product and it’s encasing. So now that customers are increasingly turning to online, they are no longer walking through the aisles and seeing a mass of products on one shelf. Online shopping isn’t something totally new of course, however, it’s increased at a faster rate than expected, and brands need to not only think about how this impacts them when seen through a screen rather than physically, but also, the increased likelihood of knowing the product is being transported before it gets in the hands of the customer. Therefore, there is an extra need to ensure the packaging keeps the product safe and protected in transit.

We then think about sustainability and hygiene. Something which, rightly so, has been a topic on customers and brands’ minds for a while now. Nonetheless, this has developed and increased since the pandemic hit. Sustainability has always played a role within packaging, even at a minor level. It’s what protects and encases the product - therefore preserving food and maintaining shelf life was always part of the brief. However, minimizing waste and ensuring we reduce the amount of plastic used in packaging has become more important and more demanded in recent years.

With hygiene being at an all-time high, hospitality and retail merchants are applying new and improved health and safety measures to protect staff and consumers. Now not only do you need to remember your reusable bag for life, but also your face mask and anti-bac gel, plus there’s also reduced number of customers being allowed in at one time. Which again, poses problems for brands. Decreased footfall, plus decreased time spent in store (due to the uncomfortable facemasks), means there’s less dwell time for customers to make decisions, and are more likely to either go by price or by brand loyalty.

How does all of this effect the way products are packaged and served? How do we reduce waste, when we’re being told not to cross contaminate? How do you stand out on shelf? Especially as a new brand, how to you engage with consumers?

Now is a time for brands to really showcase and create some exciting innovations. Briefing agencies to take into account not only quality, performance and price, but hygiene, purchase channels and sustainability. Personalised gifting throughout the festive periods when you can’t be with your loved ones. Making the packaging the product comes in as hygienic as possible, giving the consumer a sense of safety. Individual servings when sharing is being reduced or eliminated at gatherings. How do you give your consumers an exciting and ‘Instagram worthy’ experience when opening and consuming your products whilst taking all of these factors into account? These are things that brands needs to think about, not only now, but for the future, for our new normal.

We’ve kept a close eye on these consumer shifts and the trends that are coming to fruition. We’d love to hear which shifts you think relate to your consumers and explain what we think this could mean for your brand and how we can help. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with Leila at leila@thecabinetagency.com