The first European Packaging Forum took place last week in Dusseldorf, Germany. Many German, and other European, visitors traveled to inform themselves about the current market situation and possible future developments.
Many lectures laid the foundation for dealing with retail packaging. How is the current situation? What should be considered, especially with regard to the current packaging law(s)? Why do we need packaging? What are the benefits? Can we just skip the packaging? What are the alternatives to paper and plastic? How are certain ideas already being implemented? All of these questions were asked during the event.
Although the event didn’t conclude with a “master plan,” the mood was positive and German retailers took the position of “as much packaging as necessary, as little as possible.”
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With an audience of packers, marketers, and machinery manufacturers, it was necessary to shed light on the consumer’s role in the issue also. Dr. Ralf Mayer de Groot from Mayer de Groot Marketing Research and Consult GmbH, asked this question: What do consumers really want when it comes to packaging? He considered both conscious and unconscious decision factors. According to him, the most important factors of berry packaging is the protection against pollution and damage, the visibility of the fruit, and the shelf life.
‘Climate criteria’ became less important. This creates a packaging preference conflict.
“In the theoretical survey, environmental friendliness was credited with value, but in practice it was less important.”Dr. Ralf Mayer de Groot
The question of which type of packaging the consumer generally chooses has not yet been answered.
“In the past, packaging was not so much appreciated, but today our goal is to communicate through packaging.”European Packaging Forum Presenter Alessandro Ferraresso
The perfect packaging has three main features:
- Rational: It must be practical and functional. It requires efficient use of materials.
- Responsible: The packaging must be sustainable and allow communication about the product and itself.
- Fresh: The packaging should be visually appealing and honest.
“Packaging is very important and communicating about it is the future. You can work with different levels of information, from pure pragmatic packaging to an internet presence on the product that consumers can use to keep themselves informed. Only in this way can everyone help to make a difference.”European Packaging Forum Presenter Alessandro Ferraresso
The ultimate goal is to include all levels of society in the discussion.
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Managing Director for German grocery chain Rewe Homberg & Budnik, Ulrich Budnik, was present to answer questions about his experience with two Dortmund, Germany. He first outlined the different expectations consumers of different income levels have about the retail food trade. Those in higher-income areas favored emotionalizing the trade. In his newly renovated branch, Budnik offers tastings and can collect entrance fees.
The fruit and vegetable market is the figurehead of a supermarket.
“The affluent clientele pays more attention to the connection to the producer and the market.”Rewe Homberg & Budnik Managing Director Ulrich Budnik
Consumers feel the need to pick the best produce, the best fruits and vegetables. As a result, Budnik had to dispose of many pieces at the end of the day. This was his solution:
“In the meantime, we have a front desk for sensitive fruits and vegetables in one of the markets, where mushrooms and stone fruits in paper bags and parcel bags are packed directly by our employees for customers.”Rewe Homberg & Budnik Managing Director Ulrich Budnik
He concluded by saying that he does not see the fresh fruit and vegetable industry as the biggest culprit.
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“Of course we also have to change something, but I see the bigger problem with other foods and especially cosmetics.”Rewe Homberg & Budnik Managing Director Ulrich Budnik