Mike Richmond

Datamonitor has listed the top 10 mega-trends and all have packaging relevance. As a matter of fact, packaging will be an important enabler to these trends in many ways.

Everything is about convenience. While not brand new, Folger's Plastic Coffee Can is easy to hold, easy to open (Arthritis seal of approval, no can opener) and easy to close and restore. Kellogg recently introduced Drink'n Crunch, a "one-handed" cereal and milk container. This product is consumer driven and package enabled. Now you can have your cereal and milk on-the-go and it fits in the car cup holder.

Health is also an important mega-trend and here to stay. We are seeing continued growth in Functional Foods and natural/organic. Providing the proper packaging to maintain product performance (taste, nutrition) through packaging is essential. And, providing the right package that connotes natural or organic is critical to product success.

Top 10 Mega-Trends
  1. Convenience
  2. Health
  3. Age Complexity
  4. Gender Complexity
  5. Life stage complexity
  6. Income Complexity
  7. Individualism
  8. Sensory
  9. Comfort
  10. Connectivity
Source: Datamonitor
Lifestyle complexity, including more singles and people who are living longer, are just a couple examples of this trend and packaging has an important role here as well, enabling time savings and simplification. There is a renewed growth in microwave, including new susceptor materials and pattern technology to help reheat and cook the products better than in the past. There is even a bar code microwave reader and bar-coded microwave package that is expected to hit the market this year. To help with lifestyle complexity and longer life trends, companies are starting to think about Universal Design and making some products easier to open and use. One example is Aquafresh™ Toothpaste with its larger cap for easier opening and closing. We will continue to see significant growth in single serve and multi-packs. Portion or calorie control through packaging will also grow in importance.

Income complexity is all over the map. One day consumers are cost minded and the next day they are trading up for premium priced luxury items. Whims™ (a new snack product from Pepperidge Farms) is packaged in a neat angled composite canister that can be shelved right side up or upside down. The graphics are different on each side of the container. Consumers love composite canisters because they are easy to open, re-closeable, provide portability, product protection and keep products fresher. The new Dibs from Edy's is a good execution of the canister package for dairy.

Individualism is here to stay. There is no more mass market. As a result, we are seeing more packaging formats, more sizes and more product flavors than ever before. You can now buy single-serve wine in bottles, cans, glass, and plastic and even in the modern looking Tetra Prisma™ composite package from Tetra Pak. Marketing to the fragmented society has replaced mass-market advertising, and packaging serves a critical function.

Sensory, comfort and connectivity round out the mega-trends, all deeply rooted in packaging opportunity. Scensations™ embeds flavors and odors in the container; scratch-and-sniff packaging is on the rise again. Look in the personal care and cosmetics aisle for new packaging that can be brought back to dairy.

Connectivity is all about ethical consumption and shared values. So don't forget about the importance of packaging and the environment, and the role sustainability will play in the future. Consider making milk jugs and cartons into blocks for kids to play with or maybe into housing materials that can aid less fortunate individuals.

PTIS uses a Search and Reapply™ Tool to conduct benchmarking and best practice audits to bring back new commercial packages to the client category. So if you want to take advantage of mega-trends, just follow the simple steps below:
  1. Get grounded in consumer trends;
  2. Conduct retail audits outside your category and outside food to look for new ideas and opportunities; and
  3. Align the trends and best practices and apply the PTIS Search and Reapply™ Tool to identify new product/package opportunities for your category.