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Date 21st December 2010 / www.procarton.com

Integrity amid an ocean of information


At the info day of the ECR („Efficient Consumer Response“) on 11. November 2010, Prof. Matthias Karmasin of the Alpen Adria University Klagenfurt summarised the development of communication in a triple dictum: changed media change the world, changed communication changes consumption, and changed consumption demands a change in marketing. And packaging, too, is subject to new tasks, which can best be materialised by using carton board.

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A superficial comparison of reach between daily newspapers, TV, radio and Internet does not show any radical changes: between 1998 and 2009 only TV has lost considerable ground vs the Internet.  


However, when we look at the younger generation of 14- to 19-year olds, we see a far more differentiated picture: all types of media showed major losses in reach, 8 per cent for daily newspapers, 11 per cent for radio, TV is the biggest loser at 28 per cent, and the Internet has overtaken all other media at 76 per cent.  


A comparison of the media also shows that attention levels have changed considerably. In particular, radio and TV are consumed in the background. According to a survey by the British Economist, 57% had their TV on and 30% the radio while on the telephone, and 43% had the TV on while reading a newspaper.  


Even the Internet is approaching its first limits On average, all of the billion participants in the Internet community receive an average of 20 spams per day, and nearly every fifth wanted advertising mail gets caught in the spam filter. At least two thirds of the 200 million weblogs have not been updated during the last two months.


This media development has substantially changed our world. In simple terms, media influence our life stronger than ever before, especially the Internet; in extreme cases this means there is no awareness of events that are not mentioned in the media. According to Karmasin this has five major consequences:

  • Production, allocation and  consumption of goods and services change,
  • Space and time, history and identity are defined anew,  
  • The conditions for (public) communication (”Journalism “) are changing,
  • Our daily environment is being rearranged and    
  • new techniques and technologies penetrate cultural fields more and more.

One of the most affected areas is consumption: the media are present every day and everywhere, they bombard us with information and offers (information overflow and complexity of offers) and change consumer decisions as a result, also at the POS. Interaction becomes more significant than the passive assimilation of advertising. The media are increasingly turning into sales agents.  The role of marketing   (price, product, communication mix) is changing.


Karmasin describes the current development as a transition from mass communication to media communication.  Mass communication acts on the principle of brands and loyal homogeneous target groups, where the role of advertising is basically that of trying to convince.  The purchase of a product or service is rewarded by the by the provided ”service“.  


In contrast, media communication mixes marketing, advertising and PR with the content. Medienkommunikation hingegen vermischen sich im Permission Marketing, Werbung und PR mit dem Content. Successful market players will be those, who manage to persuade mobile stakeholders and their highly differentiated lifestyles to set “love marks“: the complexity of our information society is reduced to building up trust.


The increasing importance of media on consumption will force marketing and the trade to adapt.  The transparency and complexity of offers will increase for consumers.  “Trust“, (defined as reliable and trustworthy information), will increase in importance, authenticity will beat classical advertising.  Brands and products will be superceded by relationships, cooperation and dialogue. “Integrity“ – in other words, credibility which justifies trust, cannot be simulated in the long run.   


This also has consequences for packaging. In Karmasin’s view: “On the one hand packaging will become an interface with other media, on the other it will become a medium in its own right The significance of packaging will also increase with growing Internet trading and sales via  Ebay, Amazon etc. Competition at the POS will increase via so-called “in store media“. This results in a continuous design challenge, especially with regard to information design.”  


The significance of carton board will increase in this new marketing mix, not only as carrier of messages, but also as part of the marketing network, i.e. carton board is easy to print with codes which can be read with cell phones and its design can correspond extremely well with the optical signals of other communication channels.   


Carton board, being a sustainable packaging material, also has an advantage in terms of credibility: “In future, packaging will depend on integrity – the combination of ecology and presentation – as well as responsibility and awareness.”  



Prof. Matthias Karmasin

Prof. Matthias Karmasin.

Suzanne McEwen +43 1 218 6918 mcewen@procarton.com
Background Pro Carton is the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers. Its main purpose is to promote the use of cartons and cartonboard to brand owners, the trade as well as designers, the media and politicians as an economically and ecologically balanced packaging medium.