Our global team of 50,000 works together every day to connect people to products through sustainable, fiber-based packaging, which gives us a particularly interesting view into the big shifts taking place across retail and e-commerce.
COVID-19 gave our purpose of sustainable packaging innovation a deeper meaning. During the pandemic, packaging played an increasingly vital role in consumers’ lives. E-commerce spending was up 44%, from $598 billion in 2019 to $861 billion in 2020. And packaging has really stepped up to support this shift—as a representative of the brand on the consumer’s doorstep and as a strong and flexible container through an increasingly complex supply chain.
We’re proud to have stood—at a safe distance of course—alongside our customers through this period of drastic change. In the early days of the pandemic, we ensured essential products like food, personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer reached consumers, businesses and healthcare providers on the front lines. And as the pandemic continued, we supported healthcare customers with packaging for COVID-19 testing kits, treatments and—we are incredibly proud to say—vaccines.
So, how did the role of packaging change on what we have learned over the last year. How did the role of packaging change in consumers’ minds? What did this mean for our customers? And how can we apply these lessons to connect people to products even more safely, even more sustainably—in brighter days ahead?
These learnings are informed by a combination of our on-the-ground experience and our WestRock Pulse Packaging Survey, which measured the impact of COVID-19 on consumer attitudes toward packaging.
Consumers want packaging to connect them to products safely. Consumers continue to have high expectations of safety in packaging, and this trend carries over to online purchases as well. However, the importance of several key safety attributes increased, especially when it comes to brand trust.
And, consumers showed interest in several new safety measures, especially online.
We saw this data in action with increased demand for our sustainable, tamper-proof food delivery packaging InsulShield™, which is a solution for packaging refrigerated or frozen temperature-sensitive products.
See our paperboard six-pack carrier CanCollar® come to life by scanning the QR code.