Packaging companies set to invest heavily in R&D to 2021

Research and developmentPackaging companies will substantially increase investment in research & development (R&D) over the next five years, according to consumer insight firm Canadean. This may lead to an R&D arms race as companies seek to develop ever more unique and novel pack designs.

A survey by Canadean found that industry executives worldwide expect R&D to benefit from the most investment between now and 2021, beating investment in manufacturing equipment and improvements in distribution and logistics. However, packaging companies risk under-investing in data analytics, a crucial tool for ensuring success in new product development.

The firm’s latest research has found that 36 percent of packaging executives worldwide expect R&D to benefit from the most investment between 2016 and 2021, compared with 29 percent who expect manufacturing equipment to have the most investment. R&D investment will be particularly high in Asia-Pacific, where 42 percent of respondents identified it as the key investment area.

Ronan Stafford, senior analyst at Canadean, explains: ‘This demonstrates how crucial it is to offer truly unique, stand-out packaging. With consumer markets becoming increasingly crowded, it is vital that packaging companies are able to offer novel closures, advanced embossing and tooling, as well as visually striking, lightweight designs.’

‘Getting products to catch the eye of customers is notoriously difficult, and this is causing packaging companies to become ever more creative in their designs. It also means R&D is becoming an increasingly competitive pursuit among these companies, and those merely offering standard, traditional designs risk being left behind.’

While R&D will continue apace, the packaging industry risks running behind on data analytics. Canadean’s research has found that by 2021, only 37 percent of packaging companies expect to have a chief analytics officer, compared with 53 percent of consumer packaged goods businesses.

‘Tools like eye-tracking technology and cloud-based GPS and radio frequency identification technologies have an important role to play in saving packaging companies money, from initial product design to final delivery at the client’s operations,’ says Stafford. ‘Having a data champion in the C-suite makes it more likely that companies will benefit as far as possible from these tools. The industry, however, seems lukewarm about giving data this level of importance.’

This information is based on Canadean’s report Opportunities and Threats to the Packaging Industry in 2021: A Global Executives Survey.

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