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  • Abhay Bhagwat

Designing for Less Plastic : A New Paradigm for Marketeers

Updated: Sep 12, 2022

Part 1 of 2

At Packaging for the Future, we partner with brands on their journey towards sustainable packaging.


In this two part blog series we look at the 3D shape of a pack and its role in driving consumer preference. And we will consider how the associated weight, cost and potential environmental harm, affect brand image.

We’ll show that innovation teams in FMCG can design packaging that is cost effective, technically robust and delights customers. Through our method of pack weight minimisation, that can reduce plastic content by as much as 50%.

And we explain why conventional wisdom around packaging shape is no longer working, and how prudent choices can be made to achieve a win-win-win outcome for consumers, brand and the planet.

The objective of a business is to meet society’s needs for a profit, sustainably. Doing what’s right for society and the environment is right for the company, because without a planet, relocation to Mars will be a necessary business move.

FMCG businesses are certainly no exception. Their products are items of daily consumption for billions of people, are sold in enormous volumes, and their packaging is the “use and discard” kind. They have a special responsibility to make their packs as sustainable as practically possible. And one of the best ways to do this is light weighting.

The principal assets and source of competitive advantage are brands. In what would otherwise be a commodity business brands make all the difference. Brands add vital emotional benefits to meeting physical needs. A step (or three) up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, if you will. Strong brands command higher profits that can be used for fueling growth and future innovation.

And as consumers become more and more concerned about the environment, brands that stand for environmental good will be favoured. And those that don’t will be left behind.

Despite having the best intentions and resources, we find that many FMCG companies are still using packaging that is too heavy. And often this seems to be due to continued adherence to legacy assumptions and approaches: how they design shapes and test those with consumers (hint: ask the wrong questions, get the wrong answers).

These approaches may have served the industry well in the 20th century, but are no longer appropriate in the 21st.

We demonstrate the gaps in current practice and outline a new paradigm for creating and testing 3D concepts with consumers. Companies are pleasantly surprised when they realise that they can generate pack shapes that are attractive, robust, yet significantly lightweight compared to most of their current shapes.

Adopting this new paradigm is a source of competitive advantage.

We offer our help to FMCG companies, retailers and packaging manufacturers in doing this effectively.

In part 2 we will discuss: the key business drivers of shape.

Our approach may also interest non-profit organisations and regulators for whom we are open to working pro bono.

Interested? Talk to us.


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