In today’s fast-paced business environment, it’s more important than ever for brands and printers to be able to quickly adapt to changing market conditions and consumer needs. Consumers develop a relationship with brands they connect and engage with over time. Consumers change their tastes, fashion, price points, and desire for convenience in their shopping habits more frequently than ever before. However, in the age of influencers, friends & family sharing their preferences broadly on social media, and accessibility of coupon code offers, consumers are more easily tempted to try someone else’s product.
As a result, brand loyalty is often a fleeting thing, and shifting consumer shopping habits have accelerated. Brands need to maintain consumer attention particularly in the times we live in with short attention spans. Consumers respond to being “in the moment” and packaging needs to rise to this challenge. Packaging can provide consumers with the feelings and emotions that come from the anticipation of changes in the seasons as well as events such as sports matches. The globally proven attraction to consumers is personalization which began with Coca-Cola followed by several other brands. Human behavioral researchers found that there is unique brain activation when a subject sees or hears their name. Such a magnetic draw connects consumers with the package for a heightened experience. It is no surprise that numerous brands have used personalized packaging. Brands that followed Coca-Cola include; Pepperidge Farm, Mondelez International, Ferrero, Crayola, Nestle, and Frito Lay to name a few. Personalization and customization allow smaller brands to compete on a more equal footing with their big brand counterparts.
Secondly, there are unplanned and unexpected disruptions. Looking back just in the last 20 years there have been both global and regional disruptions. We have experienced 9/11, global recession, geopolitical conflicts, volcano eruptions of 2010, wildfires, and the recent global pandemic which have influenced consumer buying habits and caused supply chain disruptions. These unplanned interventions have been occurring on average every 3-5 years and become more disruptive due to the interconnectedness of global supply chains. Leaders across the industry need to realize the necessity of being prepared for future unforeseen events as vital to managing through a crisis.
The realization that consumer products and packages will require a refresh to keep from getting stale as well as protection from crises that appear to pop up every few years, brands and printers alike will need to focus on resiliency.
Resiliency requires a level of agility that can only be achieved by leveraging digital assets and streamlining workflows.
Brands and printers will need to include the use of digital assets allowing the ability to pivot when consumer habits change. Brands that lead in creating more engaging and impactful campaigns that resonate with their target audience will gain innovator status in the eyes of consumers. These very same assets would be most appropriate in dealing with disruptions when they occur.
Streamlined workflows also play a critical role in helping brands and printers stay agile and resilient. By automating processes, eliminating unnecessary steps, and linking them with software, workflows can be optimized for maximum efficiency, reducing costs and improving turnaround times. This allows brands and printers to respond quickly to customer requests and changes in the market, keeping them ahead of the competition.
Overall, by embracing digital assets and streamlined workflows, brands and printers can position themselves for long-term success in an increasingly competitive marketplace. With the right tools and mindset, you can adapt to whatever challenges come your way, ensuring that products and packages remain relevant and valuable to consumers for years to come. Coca-Cola North America’s senior vice president, Stuart Kronauge: “For teens and millennials, personalization is not a fad; it’s a way of life. It’s about self-expression”
During periods of natural disasters or unplanned disruptions, brands and printers can leverage agility and digital assets by quickly adapting to changing customer demands. This may include shifting their focus to more relevant products and services, utilizing digital marketing and communication channels to reach customers, and implementing flexible production and distribution methods. By embracing technology and remaining flexible, brands and printers can minimize the impact of disruptions and maintain their ability to serve customers in the face of adversity.
It is not sufficient to just own digital assets, it is equally important to also become knowledgeable and capable of using these as tools of innovation. Anyone can purchase digital assets but developing a use strategy that creates value can differentiate Brands and Printers from one another. One way brands and printers can use digital assets to stay agile during natural disasters or unplanned disruptions is by utilizing cloud-based platforms for collaboration and communication. This can help ensure that teams can stay connected and continue to work collaboratively even if they are unable to physically be in the same location proven during the recent global pandemic. Brands and printers can also leverage social media and other digital marketing channels to communicate with customers and keep them informed. By leveraging these tools and resources, brands and printers can remain nimble and resilient in the face of unexpected challenges.
Technology exists to create an end-to-end digital workflow. There is also a sustainability benefit from such a streamlined workflow that operates without tooling. The printing process will have less waste during printing, particularly during changeovers translating to a lower carbon footprint.
Many brands and printers shifted their focus to creating PPE-related products and packages during the pandemic. Products such as face masks and shields were made using digital technologies. Others adapted their production lines to create new product brands in high demand, such as hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies and their related packaging materials eg: labels, flexible packaging, and carton board. Additionally, many utilized digital marketing channels to communicate changes in business operations and highlight new products and services. By staying agile and adapting to changing consumer demands, these businesses were able to remain successful during a challenging time. Smithers’s study reported, “The experience of the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the advantage of the versatility of digital print”.
By no means should it be implied that analogue assets should be abandoned. Brands and printers should create a balanced mix of digital capabilities within their supply chain for all the reasons explained to gain agility and thereby have resiliency.
How should brands and printers approach becoming resilient?
- Update your business continuity strategy, ensure to include agility
- Brands need to align procurement to include suppliers with digital assets and workflow as a vital part of their supply chain mix
- Create a culture of innovation that focuses on the end consumer to leverage digital assets in growing the business by empowering employees
- Attend Drupa 2024 to learn about new digital assets and their capability
Resiliency provides brands and printers with the tools and means to stay competitive, reduce demand on the supply chain, and rapidly pivot during marketplace disruptions. Resiliency for brands and printers is synonymous with a tree with deep roots that weather storms and changing climate conditions.