London Packaging Week 2023: Exploring the Evolving Landscape of Retail Packaging

An Interview with Wizz Selvey, Founder of Wizz&Co.

With excitement building for the forthcoming London Packaging Week at London’s prestigious ExCel Centre, we sat down with Wizz Selvey, a prominent figure in the retail industry, to delve into the evolving role of packaging and its role in the modern retail landscape. With an extensive background in buying and retail management, Wizz brings a wealth of experience and insights to the table.

A Journey into Retail

Wizz Selvey’s journey into the world of retail is a testament to her hard work and determination; she said, “I started out by studying textile design and retail management at university. Although I was keen on design and found a brilliant work placement with Clarissa Hulse’s design studio that I enjoyed, I realised I wanted to do something that incorporated more business skills.” Wizz was faced with nay-sayers when it came to her ambition to blend her creativity and commercial business acumen. “The recruitment consultants I spoke to told me I’d never get into a buying role because I had no experience. I persevered and started out in merchandising, moving across into buying quite quickly due to the team being restructured. Thankfully the negative feedback didn’t deter me and it worked out well in the end! My journey in retail started there.” Wiss’s resolute spirit prevailed, enabling her to overcome negative feedback and carve out a successful career path.

From Selfridges to Wizz&Co

Wizz’s career path transitioned through various roles, culminating in a notable twelve-year tenure at Selfridges, where she rose to the position of Head of Buying. Reflecting on this pivotal phase, Wizz revealed, “I managed many categories, from fashion, menswear, luggage, accessories, the concept store and latterly beauty. It was an amazing experience.” Her journey continued with the role of Director at Soho House Retail, where she steered the Cowshed and Soho Home brands. Presently, she spearheads Wizz&Co, collaborating with industry trailblazers to navigate and enact transformative changes within the retail sector.

Navigating Consumer Dynamics

In an era fraught with ‘Digital Fatigue’, Wizz highlighted that connecting with consumers online has emerged as a challenge, adding, “However, by presenting innovative, honest and captivating ideas, brands that I work with have found that consumers are still there for them, and they still want to spend. Physical experiences are becoming more important than ever, so weaving this into strategies is crucial to building strong customer loyalty.” Wizz noted that ultimately, “the challenge for brands generally, is to increase brand awareness and reach without impacting their path to profitability.”

Digital Retail and Packaging

As digital retail continues to develop, the role of packaging is also evolving. “The packaging needs for digital are different from physical retail,” said Wizz. This rings especially true for Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) brands, which must adapt their packaging for brick-and-mortar retail, necessitating robustness and additional information. “As a result, packaging for digital can be stripped back, which is more sustainable. On the flip side, this can be hard to manage having different packaging options for different channels. Customers are also wanting more sustainable delivery options. The brands doing this well are offering customers different options at checkout, from greener packaging options, standard packaging to gifting.” On how this differs from physical retail packaging, Wizz said, “As consumers are getting more savvy with research, understanding and sustainability, it’s important for retailers to show as much as they can about their values and mission on packaging, as well as the product itself. In that respect, it’s about really honing your USP and asking as much as you can from your packaging, as well as presenting an aesthetically attractive product and casing.”

Packaging for an Experiential Era

Exploring the role of experimental packaging for the modern consumer, Wizz noted, “Packaging is a great opportunity for collaboration, expression, bringing some added creativity to the product and creating a collectable, desirable product.” Adding, “Packaging collaborations are some of the most intriguing to customers, particularly collectable or artistic themes, particularly in beauty and drinks. Product outer packaging doesn’t have to be flat, dull and functionless but could add a second life to a product that otherwise would be thrown away. Brands should be thinking ‘creative, complementary and captivating’ with their packaging, as a way to encourage consumers to buy, return and advocate for their brands and products.”

Elevating the Consumer Experience

When discussing if packaging has garnered newfound importance as a means of making consumers feel valued and cherished, Wizz noted, “Elevating packaging is a way to increase the value of the product, luxury is not necessarily about price point any longer, and packaging can add to this subliminal connection of a product seeming more valuable to a customer.” Wizz emphasised that “In the cost-of-living crisis, consumers are thinking about where they spend their money and more decisions around purchase are being considered, packaging can add to the premium feel of a product. Making a customer feel special with packaging that speaks to their values, needs or wants, as well as housing something they are eager to shop for, can only add to the experience; it’s about making your brand memorable in their eyes and being the brand and product of choice over others.”

Sustainability and Packaging

While the sustainability conversation has well and truly permeated the packaging industry, catalysing the pursuit of environmentally responsible packaging solutions, we asked if it also comes with a hint of trepidation from brands and retailers who are concerned about a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ mentality. However, Wizz shared her optimism about industry advancements, saying, “Sustainability in the packaging world has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. Where before there were no solutions to plastic-free shampoo containers, for example, creative solutions are now available, with more and more being developed. I hope to see some of them at the London Packaging Week! There will likely be a cost to brands of switching to a more sustainable option for their packaging; however, it may not be such a limited field as pre-pandemic,” On that note, Wizz is keen to encourage brands to “research and keep their eyes open for suitable alternatives. As sustainable options become more mainstream, the costs will start to come down.” Highlighting that while the shift towards sustainable packaging might entail costs, it stands as a prudent investment that aligns with consumer expectations and prevailing industry trends.

London Packaging Week: Insights and Strategies

With London Packaging Week just around the corner, Wizz Selvey is primed to share her wisdom through a talk titled “Consumer Behaviour Trends – How to Increase Customer Engagement.” She will delve into the intricate shifts in consumer behaviour post-pandemic and unveil strategies to deepen connections with customers, thus augmenting market share. As the retail landscape evolves with haste, Wizz’s insights promise to serve as a compass for businesses navigating uncharted waters.

London Packaging Week promises to be a dynamic and insightful event, providing a platform for industry experts like Wizz Selvey to share their knowledge and experiences. With the retail sector undergoing rapid transformations, packaging’s role has never been more crucial in shaping brand identity, enhancing consumer experiences, and driving sustainable practices. As we prepare for this exciting event, Wizz’s insights serve as a compelling preview of the discussions and discoveries that await.

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