Sustainability in packaging to be the final stage, not the starting point

Kruti Berawala, co-founder of Stratedgy, in conversation with Aditya Ghosalkar talks about the journey of creating packaging designs that connect with the audience

15 Aug 2023 | By Aditya Ghosalkar

Kruti Berawala: Minimalism should not be mistaken for refinement. While the former is about simplicity, the latter revolves around sophistication

Aditya Ghosalkar (AG): How would you describe Stratedgy?
Kruti Berawala (KB):
We build and scale brands using data, strategic design and our intuition.

AG: What is your packaging mantra to promote building a brand and to captivate its target audience?
KB:
Relevance made unique. We look at building brands that are relevant. Relevant to the consumer, to the industry, to the category and to the founders. Once this relevance is locked in, we look at ways of manifestation that are unique, free of clichés, well thought through, and definitely clutter breaking.

AG: What steps do you undertake in strategising a brand?
KB:
We leverage what we like to call it the simple 3C framework - context, consumer, and content. It is about understanding the brand's environment, the industry, and the category it will navigate. And, we dive deep into the consumer psyche, exploring their expectations and unmet needs.

AG: How does Stratedgy do this?
KB:
We craft a narrative that resonates, relates, and convinces the consumer of the brand promise. This holistic approach allows us to create packaging designs that truly connect with the audience.

AG: Food and pharma packaging demands crucial information to be printed for consumers. In this regard, does minimal packaging cater differently to different segments of packaging?
KB:
Minimal design is misunderstood in India. Minimal does not mean lack of character. Far from implying a lack of personality, it is a testament to purpose and precision. Recognising what a brand and its category calls for is paramount. If the nature of the product demands extensive information front and centre, then that is indispensable, and must be done.

AG: How so?
KB:
Minimalism should not be mistaken for refinement. While the former is about simplicity, the latter revolves around sophistication. Packaging can be pared down to its most essential elements, removing unnecessary frills and distractions. Gratuitous ornamentation could be avoided.

AG: Are there any rules to adhere to?
KB:
As for industry norms or category cues, they exist as guideposts, not as immovable laws. It is entirely up to the brand how closely they adhere to these cues or how boldly they break from them. Implementing blanket rules across industries is a shortcut to uniformity, resulting in a monotonous sea of sameness. Instead, embracing individuality and innovation will set brands apart in a crowded marketplace.

AG: A packaging project you are really proud of? Please share the challenges. How did your team overcome them?
KB:
Choosing just one favourite project can be challenging, but if pressed, one that stands out is our work on Noto's Vegan range. When Noto approached us, they were grappling with their brand looking too similar to Halo Top's signature line. We saw this as an opportunity to distinguish the Vegan range, not just from their competitors, but also from Noto's own product line. We decided to flip the script and focus on the consumer's persona instead of just the flavour - a move that we believe added a unique twist to the brand.

AG: Also, there's your collaboration with Wellbeing Nutrition on their Marine Collagen, Perfora’s entire oral care range ...
KB:
... and our recent venture with Bagrry's milk-alternative range. Whether it was crafting the packaging for the oat and almond drink range or the marine collagen, we succeeded in creating design systems that make a bold statement. They stand out, whether viewed virtually on an online platform or physically on a retail store shelf.

AG: Do you think Indian brands are comfortable spending on packaging and the after-life of the package?
KB:
Yes. Packaging is your silent salesman. It is often the only physical interaction consumers have with the brand, especially the new D2C brands. Most clients with a long term vision understand this. And they are open to investing in packaging, as it becomes the face of their brand and outlives the instagram reel / post or any digital creative.

AG: Explain how?
KB:
Recently, Wellbeing Nutrition launched their new Daily Fibre. While we love the packaging design, the jar used by the brand is absolutely top notch. The founder, Avnish, definitely understands the value his customers deserve, when they are investing in a product they will consume from, every single day. We are fortunate, most of our client partners understand this.

AG: Any hurdles?
KB:
Yes, we do encounter significant hurdles when it comes to innovating the structure or integrating advanced printing processes. In India, the financial barrier for introducing innovative packaging structures is unfortunately high. It would be ideal to differentiate based on structure, but the existing packaging ecosystem in India does not support such innovation unless you have substantial funds and sizable minimum order quantities.

AG: How do you think this problem can be solved?
KB:
We are hopeful for a change in this landscape, and soon. This shift would unlock a thrilling world of opportunities for brands, significantly enhancing the value-driven experience for consumers.

AG: Branding, sustainability and PCR are the three words we hear the most these days. Your stand?
KB:
Sustainability, unfortunately, has become a somewhat misunderstood and misused term today. Its true essence often gets lost in the noise, turning it into a marketing gimmick more than a genuine commitment. Brands frequently use sustainability as a badge to broaden their appeal, but their understanding of it might be rather superficial.

AG: Any tip about this?
KB:
Ideally, sustainability in packaging should be the final stage in a brand's journey towards being eco-friendly, not the starting point. The journey begins at the manufacturing stage and should be woven into every subsequent step.

AG: But there is a lot of conversation at summits and conferences about post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials ...
KB:
When it comes to PCR materials, many people in India profess to be environmentally conscious, but are often unwilling to pay a higher price for recyclable packaging. This loops back to the earlier point about the high cost of innovation. When brands lack the financial resources, the cost of sustainability may partially fall on consumers, who may not be eager to shoulder the increase in price. It is a cyclical challenge.

AG: Final thoughts?
KB:
We firmly believe that sustainability should be integrated starting from the product design stage and then gradually extend to the packaging. This approach promotes a more authentic and holistic commitment to sustainability.

Latest Poll

The packaging industry is confused by recycling and sustainability rules in India. What is the biggest challenge?

Results

The packaging industry is confused by recycling and sustainability rules in India. What is the biggest challenge?

Shortcomings in EPR policy

 

21.05%

Inadequate infrastructure

 

10.53%

Shortage of recycling firms

 

21.05%

Lack of consumer awareness

 

47.37%

Total Votes : 19

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