The initiative is part of an ‘Open the Future’ global brand campaign which took 12 months to come to fruition and includes a microsite and ‘insights programme’.
Research was carried out by several b2b specialists to establish what brand owners really want from the packaging industry and it included customers, suppliers, investors and employees across Europe and the Americas.
Gary McGann, Group CEO, Smurfit Kappa, told FoodProductionDaily it already has experience centres in the UK, Netherlands, Czech Republic and Sweden, and it plans to open more in the coming year, but would not say how many.
“With 70% of consumers making their final purchasing decisions in store, and 68% of consumers admitting they are ‘brand switchers’, brands are constantly battling it out to be the product that is bought by shoppers,” he said.
“The hub will be a showcase International Customer Experience Centre at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, where customers will spend immersive days collaborating alongside Smurfit Kappa experts, assessing market insights and new packaging innovations.”
McGann said ‘Open the Future’ reflects the fact Smurfit Kappa is opening up future opportunities for customers by working with them to solve their packaging needs.
He said the time was right because the global business environment is becoming increasingly challenging and faster moving.
The campaign will feature a microsite, where a series of films demonstrate how customers across the world have worked in partnership with Smurfit Kappa to create products which have driven commercial success. Content will be updated regularly throughout the year.
“The industry has to look beyond our customers' immediate packaging needs to understand what really makes their business and their customers tick and where future opportunities lie,” he added.
“Not only do brands need to look good, but they must be competitive on cost. Balancing these often conflicting attributes is in itself challenging, but brands are also now faced with the need to promote their products via multi-channelled, fast-paced environments, such as mobile marketing and social media.
“At Smurfit Kappa’s experience centres we set out to bring together our experience in packaging, innovation and creativity as well as working closely with our customers to focus on technology that will work in the real world.
“Our teams are made up of people from different backgrounds, bringing various skills and perspectives to the challenges our customers face. For example, you can see on one of our microsite films that our employees come from very diverse backgrounds, from ex-aeronautical engineers to those with experience in the gaming industry.
“For us, the next stage in that development is taking those skills and tools that have been used for years in the business to the consumer space and adapting them to strengthen our ability to get the right product for individual customers.”