Research
Interview Synopsis

WestRock – packaging demand & competitive outlook

  • Public Equity
  • Materials
  • North America

With e-commerce skyrocketing during the pandemic, many adjacent industries faced knock-on effects. Packaging was one of them. “E-commerce tends to drive a higher level of packaging per product than the average retail-level sale. It appears that some of the behaviour will probably continue post-pandemic,” a former VP from WestRock Co told Third Bridge Forum.

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Unpacking WestRock’s industry landscape and competition

Looking into the major themes, the specialist highlighted the fact that the industry is waiting to see the extent to which consumer behaviour reverts to what it was pre-pandemic. “Another pandemic-related question will be ‘will the demand shift back to categories it was in before?’” Dips in demand for beauty packaging and increases in the grocery segment were given as examples.

Another key consideration is sustainability. To this end, the former VP questioned the need for identical in-store and e-commerce packaging. “If I’m buying a product online and it’s coming to me in another box and the box inside is the bricks and-mortar package, and it’s high graphics and has lots of treatments… do I really care if I’ve already made the decision [to buy it].”

Next on the agenda was an overview of WestRock’s strengths and weaknesses. Bright spots for the company include its leadership and specific value propositions, but the specialist believes it has struggled with “true innovation”. In addition, as an industry-wide critique, “if you compare lightweighting and fibre yield between North America and Europe and Asia, I would put certainly the North American status at the bottom of that field.”

This was followed by a look into regional markets, WestRock’s differentiation to its competitors and if reducing single-use plastic could create more opportunities, among other topics.

To access all the human insights from Third Bridge Forum’s WestRock – Packaging Demand & Competitive Outlook Interview, click here to view the full transcript.

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