Packaging Companies Set to Invest Heavily in R&D to 2021, but Data Analytics Risks Losing Out, says Canadean

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

An industry survey by Canadean has 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.

Canadean’s latest research has found that 36% of packaging executives worldwide expect R&D to benefit from the most investment between 2016 and 2021, compared with 29% who expect manufacturing equipment to have the most investment. Investment in R&D will be particularly high in Asia-Pacific, where 42% 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, and 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. This means R&D is becoming an increasingly competitive pursuit among packaging 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% of packaging companies expect to have a Chief Analytics Officer, compared with 53% of consumer packaged goods companies.

Stafford concludes: “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. 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.”