Interesting things about the packaging industry, retailing dynamics, consumer trends and NOA’s insight.

Where Amazon leads, should the packaging industry follow?

Feb 26, 2018 | Consumer, Packaging, Packaging Research and Analysis, Paper Mills, Retail

Amazon have hit the headlines recently and once again for reasons linked with paper packaging. It seems that this time, the US giant is in trouble for not using quite as much paper packaging as before – the very opposite of the media storm that Amazon caused not so long ago when it was accused of using too much packaging.

Disgruntled customers have taken to social media to complain that their Christmases were ruined because presents they ordered, instead of arriving in discreet cardboard packing, were delivered ‘naked’ with the delivery label slapped on the side.

One customer tweeted that she was “absolutely fuming”; another wrote: “If you stopped sending items such as a mascara in a box that’s large enough to house a family of 4 maybe you wouldn’t run out of boxes and my son wouldn’t know what his Christmas presents are”.

The reasons behind Amazon’s decision to cut down – or even cut out – the cardboard packaging are clear. Customers have complained about overuse of packaging and packaging can add costs for the business.

We’ve no doubt Amazon will ride this storm – after all, there’s no such thing as bad publicity (a quote often attributed to the showman Phineas Barnum). And we’re not here to be apologists or otherwise for Amazon, but the issue does raise some interesting points for the packaging industry as a whole.

What Amazon’s packaging policy may mean for the packaging industry

There are lessons to be learned from this media storm over too much/too little packaging.

Amazon, and ecommerce in general, is changing every day and has the ability to change rapidly. Almost daily, we see something new and this is often driven by consumer demand, voiced through the likes of Twitter and Facebook. Amazon’s customers told them they
didn’t like excessive packaging, and so the retailer made a change almost overnight – albeit it went a bit too far the other way for some consumers.

All this means that those working in the packaging industry can take absolutely nothing for granted. Once upon a time, plastic was all the rage – and now look at what consumers think of plastic.

What can the users and manufacturers of corrugated learn from this story?

  1. Customers (that is, consumers and retailers, as well as brand owners like Amazon) never stand still
  2. We should never take the current situation for granted – there’s no such thing as a status quo, and while we are now busy with high demand for corrugated this may not last forever.
  3. In an ever-changing world, we need to keep one step ahead of the market/consumers/competition by investing in market intelligence, such as NOA’s Corrugated Packaging Industry Reports to ensure there are no nasty surprises.

The Future of Corrugated At NOA we specialise in packaging industry research, we examine what the trends are and what the next big thing will be. If you would like some quality market research carried out into your sector, to ensure you are ahead of the curve and not caught in its wake, please get in touch with the team.