This year the ECMA Annual Congress took place on 21 and 22 September 2017 in Salzburg, Austria. The congress theme was ‘When Cartons Matter’. The congress participants where welcomed by Wilfried Haslauer, the Governor of the Austrian State of Salzburg. An interesting presentation from Karin Kneissl on demography and geopolitics, explaining why migration remains on the agenda, was well received. The economic outlook was presented by Andrea Boltho. The European economy looks good at present, but will it last? For the second time ECMA presented the ECMA 360° Industry Update to see what had happened in the folding carton industry since the last ECMA Congress in September 2016 and what is expected to happen in the near future.
The industry is very much convinced of the importance of cartons and the essential roles it takes care of (logistics, safety, efficiency, communication, design and sustainability). But it also needs to make itself better heard and recognized by customers and the consumer. During the congress Danone, Ferrero and Mondelēz presented their view on packaging and the role of cartons within their company (branding) strategy. To develop the carton of the future, it’s all about creating winning strategic partnerships and added value packaging (packaging with benefits) for customers and consumers. Although the brand owners’ strategies are very different, from global to local and from healthy to snacking, the importance of sustainable packaging solutions is widely accepted, and the need for renewable sources and materials is still increasing. Brand owners are all looking for long-term relationships with their suppliers.
The importance of (packaging) design was explained by 1HQ and Kiska, two completely different brand design agencies. Brand differentiation is very important, and this is where packaging plays an important role. How to stand out in the crowd by focussing on brand purpose and a deeper connection with the consumer, to develop the desired brand. On both days there was an inspirational speaker to close the day. Sean Pillot de Chenecey elaborated on the key trend drivers such as the changing face of consumers, new patterns of personal consumption and technological advancements, while Rasmus Ankersen evoked the minds of the congress participants to remain hungry in paradise.