Mobile data usage is growing exponentially: The consequences for brands & packaging industry

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Mobile data usage is growing exponentially: The consequences for brands & packaging industry

Thomas Reiner | 15.10.2021

Mobile data usage is growing exponentially and will more than quadruple in the next 5 years. Brands and the packaging industry have to react to this, especially through packaging. Time is pressing. Because those who hesitate will lose.


Mobile data usage is predicted to increase from 51 exabytes (EB) per month today to 226 EB per month in 2026. That’s a fourfold increase! As early as 2022, an increase of more than 15 percent to then 68 EB per month – where 1 exabyte equals one billion gigabytes.

The dynamics of this growth are impressive and the result of an unbroken “migration movement” of more and more people into the world of the mobile internet.

The growth is not only quantitative, but also qualitative. The mobile internet is being used more and more intensively. More and more data (and computing power) is being consumed, and more and more data is being generated simultaneously through use.


Implications – for brands

The increasing use of the mobile internet is changing both the expectations of consumers and their purchasing behaviour. This trend will gain strength parallel to the further increase in digitalisation. Brands and the packaging industry must react to this in order not to disappoint the expectations and demands of their customers.


Implications for packaging

Changing consumer expectations, but also changing distribution channels, have strong implications for packaging. Trends and developments that have already started, such as standardisation, individualisation and commoditisation of packaging, will continue to come to a head.

Brands and industry must react with their offers. And they must not lose any time in doing so. Because digitalisation will bring few winners, but many losers. Those who do not move fast enough now will not be able to catch up later.

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Marketing = B2B growth machine: Revenue & qualified leads now top metrics for evaluating marketers’ success

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Marketing = B2B growth machine: Revenue & qualified leads now top metrics for evaluating marketers’ success

Thomas Reiner | 06.10.2021

Digitally supported marketing is the new growth engine for B2B companies. Surveys among senior-level B2B marketers prove the trend and show growth as the new core topic in marketing. Branding, on the other hand, is falling behind.


How do you measure the success of B2B marketing? A recent survey of 117 senior-level B2B marketers by Fortella (2021) shows that growth themes have become the primary metrics against which B2B marketing activities are evaluated.

  • 80 percent of respondents see revenue as the most important metric.
  • 79 percent name a qualified pipeline as a top priority.
  • Only 59 percent still measure marketing success by branding and the attention it generates.


Performance marketing and user-centricity

Performance marketing is a discipline of digital marketing. In performance marketing, publishers only receive appropriate remuneration if measurable results are available. These include, for example, cost per click, cost per sale or cost per lead.

The focus is on the targeted generation of new customers via digital communication channels. They are then transferred as qualified leads to the sales area and subsequently converted.

The key to performance marketing is user-centricity. The right message must reach the right target group via the right channel. In parallel, existing customers are additionally nourished by the content they receive.


Game changer

Digital transformation is a game changer. New times have also dawned in marketing. Branding as a means of increasing attention now only plays second fiddle. The supreme discipline is now called performance marketing. On the basis of digital technologies, growth is thus becoming the core topic, especially in B2B marketing – and is turning marketing into a growth machine.

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Ocean littering is right back under the spotlight.

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Ocean littering is right back under the spotlight.

Thomas Reiner | 01.10.2021

The issue of ocean littering is picking up steam again around the world. After a brief slowdown due to the Corona pandemic, the keyword “plastic waste” is once again skyrocketing in Google search trends. Brand owners must be careful not to damage their assets. It’s not about whether consumers will pay more for sustainability. It’s about not disappointing consumers’ sustainability expectations. Packaging is key.


A recent look at Google search trends for the keyword “plastic waste” shows the continued growing importance of the issue of sustainability for consumers. That plastic waste is at the heart of sustainability for consumers may be objectively debatable. Subjectively, however, it is a fact that should set alarm bells ringing, especially for brand owners. Consumers increasingly expect more sustainability and emotionally associate this with ocean littering. Brands that disregard this fact run the risk of damaging their assets.


Plastic Waste as a key global issue
Ocean Litter is not an exclusive issue for affluent citizens. Those who think that only satiated consumers are concerned with sustainability and plastic in the oceans are mistaken. Especially countries that are particularly affected by unwanted plastic inputs into the environment, such as Ghana, Ethiopia or India, show a high level of awareness – even without Green Deal and regulation-driven circular economy.

The issue of plastic waste is dominant worldwide and has been gaining significant momentum globally for years. The Corona pandemic only brought about a short-lived decline.


Consumer pressure and the danger of disappointed expectations
The pressure to be more sustainable and to avoid plastic waste comes from the consumer side. Those who see the issue as a proprietary concern of regulators and are preoccupied with the question of whether consumers are willing to pay more for more sustainability are following a wrong line of thinking.

The fact is: brands need to become more sustainable in order to preserve their brand assets. A lack of sustainability disappoints consumer expectations and damages the brand essence in the long term. There is no alternative to sustainability for brands.


Packaging makes the difference
The good news for brands: there is a proven and feasible royal road to more sustainability for the brand image: packaging.

Consumers see the sustainability of products and brands first and foremost in the packaging. It is the first and most effective ambassador. Brands should use this lever.

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Unilever tests refill models and activates consumers.

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Unilever tests refill models and activates consumers.

Thomas Reiner | 03.09.2021

Reusable stainless steel bottles are at the center of Unilever’s “Return on the Go” model trials. The consumer goods giant is testing different refill models, store formats and customer experiences in the UK until the end of the year. A key aspect of the initiative is also an attempt to get consumers to cooperate on sustainable buying and consumption. Refill is thus once again showing itself to be an important building block of sustainable strategies. The approach will continue to gain momentum – and offers great opportunities for newcomers in particular.


After Unilever launched Europe’s largest refill trial last year, the consumer goods giant is now following up. As part of its “Return on the Go” initiative, the company is testing different refill models, store formats and customer experiences for using refillable products in the UK until the end of 2021. To this end, key brands such as Persil, Simple, Radox and Alberto Balsam will be offered in reusable stainless steel bottles. Refill is thus once again proving to be an important building block of sustainable strategies. The Refill approach will undoubtedly continue to gain momentum.

A key aspect of Unilever’s initiative is also to activate consumers. The aim is to get them to cooperate on sustainability and sustainable consumption. This approach is important because true circular economy and reuse only works in cooperation with consumers.

Refill offers newcomers great opportunities to enter the market or gain market share. This is because the established, big brands are often still vulnerable in this area. For example, they show their weaknesses where suitable packaging is lacking.


The Return on the Go initiative.

  • Unilever is testing its refill models in seven selected Asda and Co-op stores in the UK until the end of 2021.
  • The trials will test different refill models, store formats and customer experiences associated with the use of refillable products.
  • At the heart of the offering is a “grab and go” purchase of pre-filled stainless steel bottles from the shelf. The bottles can be returned to the store after use. Then, where collected, the bottles are cleaned and refilled.
  • Unilever hopes to gain insights into whether integrating refillable products into consumers’ usual shopping habits will increase acceptance of refills. It is also hoped to show whether customers not only purchase the reusable stainless steel bottle as an initial purchase, but also refill the bottle after use at a stand-alone refill station.


Initial findings and figures

A market study commissioned by Unilever as part of the first Return on the Go 2020 initiative in Leeds found:

  • 94% of consumers were more likely to buy refill products than the equivalent product in disposable packaging.
  • 89% were generally more likely to buy a product whose packaging could be reused.
  • 18% wanted a sealed product option (18%) as well as the ability to return empty bottles to the store (16%).
  • 25% expressed interest in a loyalty or rewards system.
  • Nearly one-third said value for money at refill stations was a key reason for purchases.

Part of the promising conclusion is that Unilever has already exceeded expectations in separate trials. For example, weekly purchases of Persil from the refill zone were one-third higher than purchases of the corresponding disposable packaging.


Central building block: the stainless steel bottle

  • Unilever developed the refillable and reusable, plastic-free stainless steel bottles together with “Return-Refill-Repeat,” a company specializing in the circular economy.
  • The bottles are designed to track their life cycle and number of uses.


Refill as an opportunity

Refill models have become an important building block in brands’ sustainability strategies. There is no doubt that refill will continue to grow in importance – even if the inclusion of food brings high hurdles. Contact with oxygen and the resulting risks to quality and shelf life require good solutions in the area of logistics.

Regardless of the product, it is clear that refill, reuse and the circular economy as a whole can only work in cooperation with consumers. To do this, we need to effectively change people’s purchasing behavior. And that can only be done through activation and acceptance. Unilever’s approach of testing different refill models, store formats and customer experiences in the use of refillable products is therefore clever and logical.

Refill also offers a great opportunity to newcomers. The concept not only offers an entry ticket to the market, but also the opportunity to take market share from the “big guys.” This is because many established brands are not yet prepared. The lack of suitable packaging can have serious consequences, especially in the refill sector.

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Next Level Paperization: paper bottles for the non-food market.

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Next Level Paperization: paper bottles for the non-food market.

Thomas Reiner | 30.08.2021

Procter & Gamble is working with Paboco to develop a paper bottle that is 100 percent bio-based and recyclable for brands such as Lenor and Ariel. It will be tested in a Western European pilot in 2022. The innovation is another example of the dynamic progression of “paperization” in packaging. There is no end in sight as long as the plastic cycles are not closed. The key to even greater dynamism is a functioning, recyclable barrier – and the situation on the fiber raw material market.


Created in collaboration with “the paper bottle company” Paboco, the bottle is to be tested in a Western European pilot next year.

For some time now, major brands have increasingly been testing paper-based bottles. Previously limited to the food sector, Procter & Gamble, a consumer goods giant, is now venturing into the non-food market. As long as plastic cycles are not closed, the trend towards paper will continue. And the more fiber packaging can solve the barrier issue, the more dynamic the development will be.

The scarcity of wood as a raw material and the rising prices and availability of fiber materials could slow down the trend toward paper as a substitute for plastic.


The Lenor paper bottle

  • Procter & Gamble calls the bottle “the first of its kind to be produced on a large scale, both in terms of its design and its technology.” It is made of sustainably sourced, FSC-certified paper, it says, and will initially feature a thin plastic barrier made from recycled PET.
  • The bottle will be tested in a pilot trial in Western Europe starting in 2022. The company hopes its “test-and-learn” strategy will provide experience to increase the proportion of paper packaging in its portfolio on a larger scale.
  • Procter & Gamble says it plans to integrate the barrier directly into the paper liner in future versions of the bottle. This will create a seamless, 100 percent bio-based bottle that can be fully recycled through the waste paper stream.
  • P&G already uses recycled plastic for its Lenor brand with great success. Transparent bottles on the European market, for example, are made from up to 100 percent recycled material. The paper bottle is seen as the next step leading “into the promising future of bio-based packaging.”
  • P&G has announced plans to reduce the use of virgin plastics by 50 percent by 2030. The Fabric Care Europe business has also committed to an absolute plastic reduction of 30 percent by 2025 and 100 percent recyclability by 2022.


Development partner Paboco

  • Based in Denmark, “Paboco” describes itself as “The paper bottle company.”
  • “Storing liquids in paper is a particular challenge, but its successful adoption could have great benefits for the planet,” says Paboco’s interim CEO, Gittan Schiöld.
  • Paboco’s paper bottle technology is backed by a group of leading consumer goods companies and industry experts that includes The Coca-Cola Company, Carlsberg Group, The Absolut Company, L’Oréal, BillerudKorsnäs, ALPLA and now P&G.
  • For Coca-Cola, Paboco presented the prototype for a Coca-Cola paper bottle last November. Currently, Coca-Cola is testing the paper bottle in cooperation with an online grocer in Hungary.


Plastic vs. paper

As a neutral observer of market trends, we have no fundamental preferences in the materials sector. But you don’t have to be a “fan” to recognize that, after the cup sector, paperization has long since penetrated other segments that were traditionally the domain of plastics. It is also clear that as long as the plastic loop is not closed, paperization will continue to gain momentum. The non-food sector is a logical next target. It is no coincidence that Unilever recently announced its intention to test its own paper-based detergent bottle.

Disruptive fire could come from a direction that has received little attention until recently. This is because the situation on the raw material market for wood is very critical due to the pandemic. It remains to be seen whether escalating prices and supply bottlenecks are only of a short-term nature. Otherwise, they could well slow down paperization to a winning degree.



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