Interpack 2017: Amcor launches the ‘Big Ideas’ discussion series

Every three years, Interpack brings together stakeholders from across the value chain.

08 May, 2017
The ‘Big Ideas’ series looks at diverse challenges, opportunities and trends: from the demands of Generation Z to sustainable design. Here’s a roundup of the themes we explored last week.

The Next Generation: Principles of designing for Gen Z

Thursday began with Liza Murphy’s presentation on the values and demands of Gen Z. They might only just be reaching working age, but as their earning power grows, Gen Zers’ influence on branding and design is rising fast.

Liza is Associate Director at The Big Picture in New York. She’s passionate about Gen Z behaviours, from how they create online personas to the way they think about gender. She’s also an expert on what these mindsets mean for designers and marketers. 

“Gen Z is rumoured to have attention spans lower than that of a goldfish – around eight seconds,” she said. While this may sound like a negative, it also means they’re incredibly fast at scanning and assimilating information. Text-led designs won’t appeal, but instant visual impact will. “Design has to work very hard for this generation,” Liza said. “Designing for System 1 responses is crucial.” 

Brands also need to acknowledge Gen Zers’ gender fluidity. “No more ‘shrink it and pink it’,” said Liza. Brands should take a subtler approach to gendered products and consider gender-neutral design. 

Liza’s session closed with a lively panel discussion and audience Q&A, covering research methodologies, the digitisation of design, the nature of ‘premium’ and more.

Shape Shifting: Engage consumers using innovative structural packaging strategies

Next up was Benjamin Punchard, Global Packaging Insights Director at Mintel. His presentation gave insights and inspiration on structural trends in packaging.  

For Benjamin: “Structure is where we really start to add value.” The goal is packaging that works not just in terms of getting the product home (shelf appeal) but also in everyday use. Benjamin gives the example of a squeezable mascara tube: novel in design, but also a functional response to consumer frustrations over wasted product. “Rather than a gimmick, it’s about connecting with brand values and people’s lives.” 

One of many trends Benjamin spoke about included packaging that complements the home. “‘In home’ is the new ‘on-the-go’,” he said. According to Mintel, 42% of 25-34 year olds are willing to pay for products in refillable containers that match their home décor. 

Reclosability is here to stay. “Reclosable packs speak to consumers’ increasing aversion to waste and are now commonplace in many segments. The point of differentiation now shifts to improving their performance.” 

In the panel discussion that followed, the group also highlighted the importance of cultural and social settings to shelf impact, and the trend toward “lowsumerism” – buying less and expecting more.

Raise The Barrier: New materials challenge traditional wisdom about product protection

Closing Thursday’s line-up, Professor Horst-Christian Langowski from the Technical University of Munich and Fraunhofer Institute gave his perspective on product protection trends. 

Professor Langowski is a leading expert in the field of clear-barrier technology. Talking with Kris Buysens and Kurt Somers, both product development managers at Amcor, he focused on the adaptation of high-barrier transparent coatings to different applications and improvements in barrier properties. He also spoke about the potential to achieve additional functionality by incorporating materials, such as desiccant components.

For Professor Langowski, transparent barrier coatings continue to offer the greatest promise. “I’m fascinated by their perseverance,” he said. “The first patents appeared in the 1960s and it took decades for the technology to develop to the state where it is at today. And I think there will be much higher usage of these materials in the future.”

Design for a Circular Economy: The future of plastics

Kicking off the Friday sessions, we welcomed Chris Grantham for an event devoted to a more sustainable future.

Chris is Circular Economy Portfolio Director for design consultancy IDEO. Working with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, IDEO has created a guide that offers a regenerative approach to business. At its heart is the notion that the linear ‘take, make, dispose’ economy is not fit for purpose. We need a new approach to designing, producing and using goods. 

The emerging circular economy envisions a world in which businesses gain strategic advantage by understanding and protecting the larger ecosystem they exist in. That’s why initiatives like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy – of which Amcor is also a partner – are so keen to unite profit-generation with greater consideration for the natural systems we depend on.

Chris invited guests to join in a thought-provoking exercise: “I don’t come with answers but provocation and questions you can take back to your organization.” He shared IDEO’s five ‘circular strategies’ and asked participants to brainstorm ways of applying them to packaging systems. 

In the Q&A, Chris responded to questions about willingness to change on the part of consumers. He noted that crucially, the circular economy doesn’t depend on reduced consumer choice. For Chris, it represents an era of abundance, afforded by systems that are more people- and planet-friendly. 

If you missed our ‘Big Ideas’ series at Interpack 2017, you can still watch videos and download speakers' presentations from our post-event page: Take a virtual seat for presentations covering differentiation and packaging trends; product safety and sustainability.

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