Packaging does much more than simply protect products during shipping. Indeed, packaging is often what lends a product the individuality promised by its advertising. When supermarket customers are confronted with three dozen types of breakfast cereals, making a decision is frequently difficult – and the packaging is often what prompts the customer to make a purchase. The German Packaging Institute (Deutsches Verpackungsinstitut) estimates that consumers make two-thirds of their purchase decisions at the point of sale, i.e., not until they are standing immediately in front of supermarket shelves. Among the cheerful array of products on display, the packaging is what delivers the actual sales pitch. Knowing this makes industry players all the more eager to use the outward appearance of their products as a way of distinguishing themselves from the competition. According to a PricewaterhouseCooper study, material innovations constituted the second most important topic for packaging manufacturers after energy consumption. For 72 percent of all packaging material producers, this represents a major challenge.
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