Packaging development: it’s the helpful brands that will succeed
Jon Haag is a packaging nerd and Director Consumer Insights at BillerudKorsnäs. It means that he is an expert in consumer behaviour and innovative packaging design. In this interview he shares some ideas and thoughts on future trends in packaging.
First of all, what is your background and how did you become a Director Consumer Insights?
“I have an M.Sc. degree in Chemistry and I fell in love with the forest industry already at school. A renewable resource that can be transformed into so many useful things in a sustainable manner! Wow! Quite quickly I became the Packaging Nerd that I still am. I have been working with strategies, innovation and packaging design for over 15 years. After starting and managing our Design & Innovation Agency, NINE, 2007-2013, I got back to BillerudKorsnäs to start the New Business Lab as a pure innovation unit. Since January 2016, I am responsible for our ‘outside-in perspective’”.
What does a Director Consumer Insights at BillerudKorsnäs do?
“Any company has two main activities: a) to make existing customers happier and b) to find new markets and customers. Both activities require a needs-based approach for Marketing andInnovation. Here, the insights work we do aims to give the good reasons, the needs and attractive stories on where we should innovate and what we should market better. We just finished our Trend Report #1, translating the megatrends of today into Future Business Perspectives, six key perspectives that any company needs to address to be successful in the long term.”
“Consumers get more aware of that we over-consume our planet, about climate change impact, and how much food and products we waste every year. To win consumers, you really should show that you can be trusted, that you are authentic.”
What are the biggest trends in packaging design right now?
“In design, I think it is much about being authentic, and also to communicate purposeful and conscious packaging. Consumers get more aware of that we over-consume our planet, about climate change impact, and how much food and products we waste every year. To win consumers, you really should show that you can be trusted, that you are authentic. At the same time you must have thought through why you have exactly the packaging that you chose; purposeful packaging. Then, depending on where you live, recycling issues are and will be a hot topic. Fibre-based packaging is very often a good choice for all those aspects.’
The trend now is to think about usability and human interaction first, rather than technology push.
How do new technologies affect packaging design?
“Connectivity is of course a big theme – how to connect physical packaging to digital solutions. Many techniques exist and are under development. Codes and image recognition that utilize smartphones to connect, or chips, antennas and printed electronics that could connect themselves. This will impact design to make it easy to use and cost efficient to apply. The trend now is to think about usability and human interaction first, rather than technology push. We have had RFID for over 40 years, but it still doesn’t fly, because the need and the human interaction have not been in focus.”;
What do you think about the future of packaging design? What new innovations will we see? If development is consumer-driven, what will that mean for tomorrow’s packaging design?
“It is the helpful brands that will succeed, brands that show consumers how they can be part of a solution rather than of a problem. That means that design and use of packaging much more clearly will be made to show the purpose of packaging and all benefits that packaging can bring. Packaging can be the strategic tool for many benefits, such as reduce food waste, increase automation, increase consumer loyalty and facilitate real recovery and recycling of materials. Slowly but clearly we will see the most helpful brands state those benefits by design and storytelling on package and off package.”;
It’s human sciences rather than technologies that will drive development.
What can packaging designers learn from ethnology and psychology?
“Human behaviour is key to change. And in many areas we must change to better, more sustainable practices. Design Thinking is a good example where you always start by observing and learning the users’ behaviour to understand unmet needs. This is human science (like ethnography or psychology) and will get far more attention and use in products, services and packaging design the coming years.”;
Do you have a dream, a wish or ambition relating to packaging that you want to realise?
“Many! Some are secret of course. But in general it is about making packaging go from seen as garbage to become the hero for solving many problems of tomorrow! To make most consumers see packaging as a hero, that is the big dream.”