8 Drivers of Trends in Packaging
What will your product packaging look like in a few years? Will it boost sales or ruin them? Will your brand take a thrashing? Will it use bio-based materials? Will it be interactive and be zero waste? Will all packaging have NFC chips? Tough questions.
A few years ago, many of these strange and wide-eyed solutions were hard to conceive of as practical, yet they’re becoming mainstream now. What changes are on your own radar screen right now? Packaging is very important today so we should try to keep up on trends.
Packaging Does Add Value
Packaging by itself has generated significant value for retail brands and created business advantages in shipping, promotion, and ultimately sales. Innovation in design is coming from countries we’ve never seen before and those with open minds ready to learn will give their businesses an advantage as we progress deeper into global trade. Might be a threat or opportunity depending on whether you’re ready.
A great new article by Anne Marie Mohan of Pack World explores drivers of changes in packaging. Mohan cites Jocelyn Ehret of HAVI Global Solutions and her thoughts on what the 8 dominant drivers of change in packaging will be. They are:
- Emerging Markets
- Retailer Impacts
- Holistic Design Thinking
- Consumers/Social Media/Personal Technology
- Science & Technology
- Laws & Regulations
- Anticipatory Issues
I thought I’d give a brief summary of her main points.
Consumer markets in South America, Middle East, Far East and Eastern Europe are growing much faster than markets here which might surprise most North Americans and Western Europeans who believe the whole world is still in recession. Consumer demand and the regulatory demands of their governments will shape their packaging. In turn, their packaging designs and material use will be felt here. No longer will we control primary or secondary packaging guidelines.
BRIC country’s consumer market is expected to grow by 1 billion and the rest of developing countries will create 2 billion more consumers. Compare that to the negligible growth here and you can see why foreign designs are peaking our designer’s interest.
Marketing and interactive packaging are more responsive to consumers and new brands and house brands are agile enough to get an advantage over major established brands. It’s helping retailers fit into consumers lives more seamlessly. And collection of better data about shopping behaviour and understanding of what constitutes value in shopper’s eyes is giving private labels a big competitive advantage.
Holistic Design Thinking
Design is becoming the key point of differentiation for products. Design that solves functional needs (protection, shipping, usage) better along with fulfilling emotional needs is gaining an advantage. Technology continues to serve more psychological and emotional needs of consumers. And marketers are leveraging those advantages by making sure consumers know about them.
Mohan mentions new innovative packaging for laundry detergent which is easy to use. Sustainability and ease of use are of big interest to developing markets.
Since materials recycling itself is old news, packaging material producers are looking for further advantage from light weighting materials and products. You’ll be hearing more of new terms like zero waste, hybrid bio-based, and renewable polymers as sustainability gains more emphasis.
Consumers/social media/personal technology
Point of Purchase is becoming ever more important, and social media and smartphones give consumers information on your product and competitor’s products quickly. Any problem in your product or packaging will be magnified through discussion or sharing of photographs. Of course, social media makes the power of good packaging all that much better.
Ehret is also quoted as saying consumer motivation comes from safety, wellness, gratification, and convenience. For each factor, package designers need to know how each will affect the others.
Science & Technology
High tech improvements and new product generation can aid in materials design and communications. Mohan cites Ehret in talking about digital printing and mass customization and how Coca Cola had thousands of coke bottle caps individually customized. Technology makes customization possible and variable data printing can make promotions more impactful.
Laws and Regulations
Packaging copy and materials are a contentious issue with industry regulators who may not understand packaging. Being aware of political pressures on packaging guidelines is wise.
Anticipatory and Emerging
Packaging designers and brand managers need ways to anticipate changes and that would entail research of course. Ehret recommends reviewing data regularly and consistently.
Soap Packaging is one of the most entrepreneurial areas of packaging these days. Soap and other household and beauty products can benefit from sustainable paper packaging, clamshells and blister packaging.
What were the top packaging trends last year? How about paper packaging? Do you believe it to the strong gainer that it’s being reported to be? Any limitations you’ve had in using paper packaging?