Packaging in a Pandemic: How COVID is Changing Trends

Packaging in a Pandemic 

It’s clear that life as we know it has changed immensely in 2020. Since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the globe have shifted their lifestyles, routines, and beyond. From switching our regular office jobs to remote work-from-home positions to cooking at home and doing the bulk of our shopping online, the world is a very different place from what it was a year ago today. While many of us are rightfully focused on the modifications we’ve made to our everyday lives, it’s important to understand that these transitions have affected a variety of businesses as well. Those of us in the ecommerce and packaging industries have likely caught on to the dramatic shifts that have occurred very quickly, which is why it is necessary to understand what the world of packaging looks like during a pandemic and what may take place after it passes.  

Pre-COVID Packaging Trends 

During simpler times, there were a few key trends that packaging designers, engineers, and manufacturers focused on. Chief among these was sustainability. For good reason, the packaging industry was, and still is, trying to find ways to make various materials and containment methods as environmentally conscious as possible. Among many other factors, this meant utilizing recyclable products that can be manufactured with renewable energy sources in order to reduce our impact on the natural world. Another major trend in packaging before coronavirus swept through the world was personalization and exclusivity. Buyers, particularly younger demographics, loved personalized products that were specially tailored to their individual wants and needs. Oftentimes, this trend was paired with minimalist design and eco-friendly packaging materials. Packaging products may have included specific information about a person or location, but we may not see this for much longer.  

Packaging Trends in a World with Coronavirus 

COVID-19 has introduced many new aspects to our daily lives, and one of the most important is improved hygiene standards. Everywhere you go, you’re likely to see extra sanitizing taking place more often while fewer people occupy those same spaces. As it happens, these new practices extend to the packaging industry as well. We’re now designing materials and containers that are better suited to improving hygiene, which means that you’ll now see more single-use products that can be disposed of after just one use. Another shifting trend that's taking place in the packaging world is what customers are interested in. Now more than ever before, buyers are making their purchases online, but with the economic uncertainty that has washed through the nation, many are instead opting for less-expensive brands from larger corporations rather than buying personalized goods from less well-known ecommerce businesses.  

What Happens Next? 

In a perfect world, this pandemic would be over next week (or it never would have happened at all!). But since the chances of that are very low, we need to prepare for a packaging future that accommodates COVID-19. This means focusing on shifting consumer needs, such as low-cost goods, increased online shopping, and the necessity of exceptional hygiene practices across the board. Packaging manufacturers and distributors must also be able to achieve these goals with significant portions of their workforce operating remotely. While this may be difficult, it is far from impossible. These goals are attainable and can be balanced with the priorities of a pre-COVID world. For example, even single-use products can be constructed from recyclable materials or manufactured with an energy conscious process.  

Planning for COVID Packaging 

Chances are, your company has already made some drastic changes because of COVID 19. Maybe you were hoping your new social distancing guidelines were only going to last a few months, but every day it looks more and more like we’re in this for the long haul. While it’s certainly not a very fun thought, it is something the packaging industry can work with. No matter what’s going on in the world around us, people and businesses are always going to need packaging supplies, whether they consciously think about it or not. Adapting your business practices and product offerings to meet new and unique needs may be difficult, but with enough thought and attention detail, it’s more than doable.