Our team was having a discussion the other day about all the articles we’ve been reading that mention the word “pivot.” It’s enough to make us dizzy. What does the word really mean, anyway? According to Webster’s, when used as a verb, it means “to turn on or as if on a pivot.” Well, that’s not really helpful. Let’s check out the pivot-as-a-noun’s definition – “a shaft or pin on which something turns.” Okay, that’s something we can relate to!

For the last year, every aspect of daily life has been all about tapdancing on the head of a pin, with the slightest wrong move toppling everything over into serious disaster. For the food and beverage industry in 2020, as the pandemic continued to rage throughout the world, pivoting to respond to consumer behavior was all about pushing out bulk packaging, family-sized everything, making whatever you could, as quickly as you could, and oh yeah, don’t forget easy to order online and ship immediately, delivering with “touchless” service or maybe providing curbside pickup – whew! Brands were in an endless marathon racing to fill retailer’s empty shelves and respond to consumer’s desperate pleas for even the most basic products.

Now it’s 2021 and guess what? Things are about to change again. With the introduction and wider distribution of COVID vaccines, according to a report from IRI, beginning as early as late Spring 2021, consumer mobility and away-from-home consumption will start to increase. Consumers will look for package sizes they can easily store in their cabinets, not pile up in their garages. They also predict that with budgets squeezed as more money is spent outside the home, shoppers will once again be more price sensitive, making value important again. The real kicker – “quick responses used during the pandemic will become even more critical to meet these evolving consumer needs and demand occasions, including altering items on the shelf.”

In their opinion, CPGs should prioritize innovation and leverage brand equity to expand into adjacent categories instead of focusing on managing capacity and out-of-stocks.

Are you ready to pivot again to be on the market with new packaging and delivery systems reflecting these changes for June 2021?

Given the current political and economic climate, the best prediction for the future is this – from now on, it’s going to be very difficult to predict the future. So, what can a brand do to get ahead of the curve? When it comes to packaging, there is one solution we recommend to all of our clients. Instead of designing a package, develop a packaging system.

Although you may only be launching one product in a few different flavors, it is best practice to create a design strategy from the beginning that will work with any and all future sizes and structures, potential line extensions, sub-brand developments, bulk sizes, etc. Your design team should be creating communication architectures that allow for future functional claims, flavor callouts, and potential certification symbols.

With this roadmap already set in place, when an urgent need for a package change arises, the bulk of the design thinking has already been done, allowing a much faster response. Add a health claim to say “now with Vitamin D,” highlight a new upcycled food certification seal, create a club or bulk size version of your best seller? No sweat. You’ve got a plan for that.

As baseball-great, Yogi Berra, famously said – “it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” The good news is, food brands can plan their packaging design to make it the best it can be, now, and 5 years in the future. If you need help seeing the big picture and envisioning the possibilities for your brand, please reach out, we’d love to learn more about the future through your eyes.

Photo by sergio souza from Pexels