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6 Packaging Trends Influencing Decisions at Leading Brands

Behind every trend is a comprehensive consumer, competitor, and market study involved. For a long time packaging was under-assessed but now, not anymore. The packaging industry trends of 2018 clearly depict that manufacturers have recognized packaging as an important branding asset. Consumers, who have once considered packaging as waste, have also realized the impact of packaging on the environment.

Let’s have a look at the new market trends influencing the $851 billion packaging industry.

Trend #1. Environmental Sustainability

The increasing landfill due to plastic packaging waste has alarmed everyone for the environment we are creating. Manufacturers, as well as consumers, are appreciating the packaging that is reusable and recyclable. Environmental sustainability can be achieved in the following ways:

a. Using environment-friendly packaging materials like paper and natural fibers.          

b. Reducing the waste, this will eventually reduce the packaging waste also.

c. Reusing the packaging a number of times before finally disposing of them.

Charapak has designed a returnable packaging with resealing solution to encourage consumers to return the packaging for reuse.

Returnable packaging for e-commerce is an emerging packaging industry trend. The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that globally, 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted each year. Supermarket owners and food retailers are keen on having packaging that could keep the food fresh for a longer time. Sainsbury, UK's leading food retailer has adopted a color-changing label on fresh deli meat for visual understanding of sell-by and best-before and use-by dates.

color changing labels - packaging industry trends

The color changing label indicates the freshness of food and the time to use by.[/caption]Another remarkable step that manufacturers are taking towards environmental sustainability is using ocean’s plastics in packaging. Brands from all sectors- be it personal-care, electronics, or food are actively participating in redesigning their packaging. Companies like P&G, Coca-cola, Dell, etc. are the forerunners in this sustainable initiative.

Trend #2. Smart Packaging

Smart packaging is a broad term encompassing personalized, intelligent, and active packaging techniques. Intelligent packaging uses sensors and smartphone connectivity to ease consumer convenience. Whereas, active packaging can interact with consumers and products. For instance, scientists are developing good-bacteria that can help keep the food fresh for a longer duration. The present-day packaging industry is using four main categories of smart packaging solutions-

a. Barcodes, QR codes

b. Smart indicators, pigments, inks

c. Augmented reality (superimposing a computer-generated image on user’s view of the real world thereby forming a composite view)

d. Sensors, printed electronics

For example, water.io connects any package to the Internet of Packaging (IOP) platform. The sensors extract both- product and consumer information throughout the lifecycle of the package. This technique can help brands assess the real world information like the supply chain behavior and take necessary actions on the problematic scenarios.

Active packaging is helping to monitor the quality of the supply-chain system. Smart packaging was once a buzz in pharmaceutical and food industry. Well, the year 2018 takes it beyond and this packaging industry trend will also retain in future.

We are creating entirely new consumption occasions for consumers and brands. We’re also creating great experiences for the consumers in the areas beyond food and beverage like home fragrance and heated cosmetic products.-Greg Clark, Co-founder & CEO, Inductive Intelligence LLC

Trend #3. Conveying Brand Message

Manufacturers are aiming for packaging that supports consumer’s purchase decision. Too much or too little information would leave the consumer confused rather than informed. Clean packaging labels with to-the-point information are drawing more consumer attention than ever. For instance, instead of writing the complete sentence- “This packaging is recyclable,” a recyclable logo suffices the information. Towards conveying the brand message, the theory- one size doesn’t fit all is applicable. Every brand has its story, which they do want to convey. For example, Starbucks Corporation, an American coffee company introduced three elements in its packaging-

- Roast spectrum

- Story and tasting notes

- Brewing tips

Through this packaging, the company is conveying- not just drink, know your coffee too.

Branding through story=telling is an evergreen packaging industry trend.

Trend #4. Embracing E-Commerce

Online shopping is one of the most popular internet-based activities these days. Last year only, worldwide, the retail e-commerce sales amounted $2.3 trillion, which is still growing. Most offline stores are thriving to be present online because of the increasing user base. This has revised the packaging requirements of many stores. In the offline scenario, the user would receive the purchased item in the bag he carries.

With e-commerce retail, proper packaging is necessary even if it is a strip of medicine so that it reaches the customer safely. One side, manufacturers are trying to minimize packaging for their efforts towards sustainability. The other side, rapidly growing e-commerce is demanding safe and secure packaging, which involves fillers, padding, shipping boxes, etc. But, what wins, in the long run, is the minimalist packaging for e-commerce. Amazon, the e-commerce giant is collaborating with manufacturers to reduce packaging size and eliminate the need for an additional shipping box

Trend #5. Consumer Experience

The businesses in premium products are especially inclined towards presenting an experience through packaging. Even every day and mid-value products manufacturers are creating a safer experience for consumers. For example, child lock packaging in pharmaceuticals, cleaning products, pesticides, etc. is receiving a good appreciation from users. Manufacturers are trying to win consumer loyalty by creating a good experience throughout their product lifecycle- from manufacturing to disposal, which also includes packaging.

Trend #6. Convenience

The millennial generation prefers convenience over cost. According to a US survey, 24% of youngsters, between the age group 18 and 34 subscribed to a meal kit in 2017.Source: Fluent LLC: There is a box for that. Other developing countries are not untouched by this trend, and this is going to rise. What suppliers need to consider is that packaging is convenient enough; for instance, spill-proof packaging for a complete meal.

Biodegradable & Spill proof Meal Tray[/caption]Another trend toward convenient packaging is using transparent packaging. People these days are in a rush and are going to pick the product if they are able to see what’s inside. Gone are the days, when consumers had enough time to touch and feel the product themselves. Now, they rely on the manufacturer’s credibility and the visual appeal of the packaging. The preferred label contains only the mandatory information and the look-through feature helps the consumers in making a purchase decision.

What would be the Packaging Industry Trends in 2019?

The upcoming packaging industry trends are supposed to comply with the packaging norms and at the same time influence, the consumer’s purchasing decisions. For example, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has set compliance to declare added sugar in an updated nutritional facts panel in the food packaging labels by 2020.

Moreover, long shopping excursions are diminishing both online and offline. People are more likely to pick things from the front shelf; hence your packaging requires being visually appealing.

The trends in the packaging industry are greatly influenced by a combination of easy-to-handle and environmentally friendly packaging. The packaging industry in 2018 gave great importance to the millennials' requirements and will continue to target them. Also, the present throwaway culture will evolve into the one that embraces packaging as a need and not to add landfill.

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