Top Trends Affecting the Packaging Industry in 2017

Trends affecting the packaging industry can be seen from more than one perspective. Among the different perspectives, the ones affecting the industry at the most would be taken from the packaging professionals in terms of technology advancements; and the consumers perspective in terms of modern lifestyles.

However, research shows that there are certain key trends starting from the consumer, which are impacting the packaging industry the most.

Today we’re going to take a look at what these top trends are, why and how they are affecting the packaging industry, and what this means for brands and consumers alike.

So, without further ado, let’s get down to it…

Sustainability and functionality

The on-the-go lifestyles trend of the leading population segments, which are the Millennials and Gen Z, has brought along the demand for sustainable and functional packaging. In other words, consumers want packaging which is functional, easy to use, and reusable.

This trend is integral with the other trends we will be mentioning here. But it’s important to point out that transparent and flexible packaging are an innovation for an adequate response to that demand.

Research shows that functionality also requires portioning. Put simply, products should have small, portable, one-time consumption versions wherever possible. This is mostly notable in the food and cosmetic industry.

According to the Mintel Packaging Trends 2017 research study, 33% of US adults agree that there are not enough conveniently packaged snacks. Whereas a huge 94% of U.S. adults snack at least once daily, with 50% snacking an average of 2-3 times per day.

When it comes to on-the-go convenience, one great example is from The Pacific Shaving Company. They partnered up with a soluble packaging technology leader MonoSol, to develop the “Single Use Shaving Cream Minis”.

The minis are one shaving dose pods packed in soluble film, in one flexible package bag. In contact with water on the palm of a user’s hand, the film dissolves and the cream gets a foamy consistency ready to be applied.

As well as hitting the mark of convenience and ease of use for travellers, this partnership created a combined sustainable and eco friendly package solution. This is because the amount of material waste is reduced to a minimum through the combination of flexible and soluble packaging.

Transparent packaging

The Transparent packaging trend has emerged with the increase of the consumer awareness of food consumption.

However, transparent packaging is also beneficial in cosmetics. Past research has shown that not being able to tell how much product is left in a container is one of the top frustrations of consumers.

Again, among members of the largest population segments, mostly people aged 18 to 34, 60% of them agree that it’s highly important to be able to see what’s inside of a package, especially when it comes to food.

Research shows that transparent packaging is key to building trust and customer loyalty.

A great example of leveraging the transparent packaging trend to increase brand recognition is from ‘Sonoco’ – the company behind the “TrueVue” plastic, transparent, can.

Flexible packaging

The packaging industry is one of great innovations over the last few years. This is reflected through technology advancements, and the use of different resources and materials. In such a demanding industry, packaging and labeling companies are continuously striving to develop solutions which meet all of the greatest trends.

One of these solutions, is flexible packaging. Flexible packaging, according to Esko, “…is headed for an annual growth rate of 3%, resulting in an overall market value of $210 billion by 2020. Asia is the largest market for flexible packaging today, accounting for 40% of global market volume, followed by Western Europe and North America. Flexible packaging is mostly used in the food sector, with flexible food packaging showing an annual growth rate of 4% in terms of volume over the last five years. The beverage sector and pharmaceutical sector follow close behind.”

Flexible packaging is the answer to consumer functionality and sustainability demands. Additionally, flexible packaging uses less material, which makes it more environment friendly. The reduced resource use makes it cheaper to ship. Plus, it extends shelf-life.

Eco-friendliness and recycling

In the last decade, people across the globe have become way more aware of pollution issues, and this seems to be a growing trend.

Recent studies indicate that 62% of customers feel negatively toward brands that don’t use eco-friendly packaging.

Research shows that 21% of Canadian consumers are interested in a resealable or re-closable packaging in order to reduce waste.

Switching to sustainable and eco-friendly packaging gives brands the competitive edge to climb the market ladder higher up.

Take Tetra Pak’s Tetra Evero Aseptic milk bottle for example. Not only does it hit the mark with functionality for consumers as well as manufacturers, but it is also recyclable and leaves a way smaller carbon footprint in the recycling process.

Smart packaging

Technology advancements continue to follow and adapt to trending consumer demands. As the modern hi-tech era is a time of all things smart, the packaging industry follows the trend through creative innovations which are focused on giving consumers what they need in terms of convenience and functionality.

Color code indicators are a smart packaging innovation which was a response to the very common issues concerning best before dates. Consumers often find the use by/sell by dates confusing. Additionally, some retailers have been known to tamper with packaging dates.

A great example of a freshness indicator is the Insignia Nova label, which has a color code and a large dot which changes color with time which indicates the freshness of the product.

Smart packaging is active. Paired with technologies such as QR Codes and NFC, smart packaging becomes a powerful customer engagement tool which effectively impacts customer loyalty as well as the buying decision.

Leveraging technology to connect with consumers directly through a product began with QR Codes. With technology advancements, NFC brings more speed and convenience. This type of technology makes for a great marketing tool.

Smart packaging plays a big role in pharma. So medical products are packaged in a way that they are paired with tech and apps which enable dosage tracking, health event management, and so on.

The Xerox ThinFilm label is a great example of hi tech innovation in smart packaging. The smart label is a small flexible label with 36 bits of rewritable memory and it serves as a practical, low-cost solution against counterfeiting.

Unique design and experience

With the increase of ecommerce and online retail businesses, packaging has become a key element in brands marketing strategies. Personalized, unique design packaging is developed with the goal of providing unique unpackaging experiences.

Cognitive cues are a part of every good content marketing strategy. In other words, the information being represented on a package, the colors, the phrasing, and the visual appeal and imaging, should match the target consumers – their desires, demands, and lifestyles.

Consumer behavior is the basis of content marketing, which is further proof that the design of a package should be based on a well developed content marketing strategy.

36% of UK consumers agree that unique packaging designs make a product more appealing. Under-25s are the keenest on one-ofa-kind packaging, with agreement reaching 53%.

Combining the trends in packaging design and development

The online world provides lots of opportunity and convenience, but it has also led to an increase in competition, especially in retail.

Brands must consider these top trends during package development. They need to find the most effective way to respond to the consumer issue which is reflected through one of these trends along with designing a package which provides a unique experience to consumers.

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