Data Points: Six Packaging Trends for the New Year
Packaging is a dynamic industry, continually evolving as both technology and consumer demands change over time. To stay relevant, package printers, converters and brands must stay up to date on current trends and keep an eye on potential trends for the future.
To help consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies and packaging converters succeed, David Luttenberger, global packaging director for the Mintel Group, released a report on the six trends that will impact global packaging in 2016. Luttenberger spoke with packagePRINTING about these trends and how they will impact the industry.
The Gradual Rise of Digital
One trend that should be familiar to printers and converters is the continual rise of digital. However, Luttenberger explains that digital is not skyrocketing to the point where it’s going to become pervasive this year. Instead, he says digital package printing is experiencing an evolution, rather than a revolution.
Luttenberger notes that Coca-Cola made a big splash with digital when it launched its Share a Coke campaign. However, smaller brands may see that campaign and think that digital is not for them because they do not have that type of volume or global need. But with a little more education on digital print and decoration technology from converters, Luttenberger says that smaller CPG companies will realize they, too, can reap the benefits of digital.
“It’s not going to be where the light bulb goes on and everybody switches this year,” Luttenberger says. “[But] I think it’s going to be more rapid in 2016 than it has been in the past five years combined.”
Clean Eating and Clean Packaging
The second trend, Luttenberger says, is the rise of clean labeling. Consumers are more interested in eating healthy than in the past, and label and package printers will need to be able to express the health benefits of a product on its package.
The other element of clean labeling is in the packaging design itself. Consumers don’t react to packaging that is cluttered or too flashy, Luttenberger explains. Instead of flooding a label or package with color, tastefully using a “splash” of color keeps a label looking cleaner and not too busy.
“Clean labeling, clean graphics and a simple decluttered design principle is working for brands in terms of transparency and equity,” he says. “It’s even beginning to build the power of repurchase from the first time the consumer sees that product.”
The third trend pertains to flexible packaging. Luttenberger explains that flexible packaging is no longer a differentiator — it has been readily available on the market for some time and consumers are well aware of its presence. The key trend for the new year however, is going to be how companies can create innovative flexible/rigid packaging hybrids that provide the benefits of flexible packaging and the familiarity of rigid.
The Right Size
The fourth trend is delivering the right size package for the consumer. Luttenberger explains that this trend could mean moving packaging into both smaller or larger formats, depending on consumer preference.
“You have to understand what the consumers want,” he says. “What’s driving their purchasing decision? What meshes with their lifestyle? You have to understand the consumer first, then you have to develop the concept and a means to produce it.”
The fifth trend that Luttenberger sees playing a major role in 2016 is greener or more environmentally responsible packaging. He says that recyclability is also no longer a differentiator when it comes to packaging. In 2016, it is the expectation and brands that want to win in this space will need to go the extra mile.
“Don’t just tell me, ‘recycle where facilities exist,’” Luttenberger says. “Give me a QR code, or a text code or URL. Tell me specifically where in my municipality or in my neighborhood I can recycle this. If I can’t [recycle it], what alternative or secondary use is there for this particular package?”
Finally, Luttenberger says embracing the mobile world will be key for packaging in 2016. While elements like near-field communication and other smart packaging innovations are not going to go mainstream this year, Luttenberger says that doesn’t need to be a concern. Instead, brands and packagers that find the right application to deliver contextually relevant information to the consumer will succeed with this emerging technology.
For example, he says in the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical fields, consumers could get plenty of relevant information about the drugs or supplements they are taking, including reminders and dosage information.
“It’s not about putting an NFC or QR code on every cereal box in the world,” he says. “The real functional areas that I’ve been impressed with are in the pharmaceutical, medical and over the counter opportunities.”
But the recurring theme in all trends for the new year, Luttenberger explains, is making the consumer the first consideration in all packaging applications.
“Continue to look at the consumer first,” he says. “Make the consumer a part of your solutions story. Your technologies and innovations are always going to be important, but make sure there’s an application for them.”