Packaging and Printing: It’s More Than What Meets the Eye
Packaging and printing: it’s more than what meets the eye. In today’s world, packaging is everywhere and used for almost everything — be it the cereal box in the local grocery store or the packaging used to contain your dreaded COVID test kit. With that said, printing is so important in the packaging process
One look at the packaging industry within the last year will show you how packaging is constantly changing. With the advent of COVID 19, social distancing, and lockdowns, the packaging industry had to pivot quickly to meet the demands of consumers who want and need safer packaging, particularly in grocery, toiletries, home goods, and eCommerce. While most people first think about the increase in the waste stream for disposable PPE and individual packs, instructions, certifications, and key details have also changed. Print provides a different message and new information regarding the pandemic through packaging. As 2021 moves forward, I expect to see some new innovations regarding packaging and printing.
Companies should and will look at printing as a way to market their packaging toward the new, post-COVID consumer: someone who is more thoughtful about what they bring home, engaged with their packaging and its print in a way that is more meaningful than before. This is because packaging can literally save lives with the use of clear printing on its labels, and on the product it contains.
As I sit at my computer writing this, I can already tell you what differences I expect just by looking at the packaged items I’ve been stocking (hoarding) for months. For example: those boxes of KN95 masks from China with KN95 printed prominently on the top, front, and back will definitely be used more often by consumers who are looking to keep themselves safe from any kind of disease, not just the coronavirus. The printing on these boxes is detailed and explains the use of the masks so that any consumer can understand visually. I expect to see other packaging for PPE to follow suit. In contrast, I have samples of food packaging I expect to see this to change in more subtle ways. In recent times, consumers are becoming more aware of what they put in their bodies. As a result, I see food companies changing their packaging to reflect images and messaging of immunity based and organic products. Printing will be paramount in achieving high-quality packaging for food that reflects the new, more health-conscious consumer.
I personally look for packaging that matches my personal values, since the advent of the coronavirus and everything going on in the recent US political landscape. I will be seeking out printing that brings joy but also holds information about the product. I expect to see more than the name of the manufacturer on the packaging, and more about what I can expect from my products and the companies that produce them. I don’t want to wonder how to use what’s inside the packaging. I want to see packaging that is well-printed, that holds meaning and brings value to our lives.
Already there are companies that are creating sustainable, no-waste, reusable packaging. With this change, it will be important to keep in mind what methods and materials are used for package printing, what message the print conveys about each company, and what it tells the consumer.
As a packaging professional, I will do my best to continue to create packaging that gives a different “unboxing” experience to my clients and consumers in the new year and years to follow. I want people to seek out the products and packaging that come from small, innovative startups, manufacturers that are locally-based: companies that truly value their consumers as people. It will be important moving forward, to press companies about their packaging methods. It will be important to be more conscious about what we print on our packaging, and it will continue to be important to convey messages of empathy, health, and goodwill in the post-COVID world.
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