Mintel, Chicago, highlighted six trends in packaging that are set to make an impact on global packaging markets over this year, including implications for both consumers and brands.
Digital printing is capturing brands’ attention by creating opportunities to engage consumers on a local, “hyper” personal and even emotional level. With nearly one quarter of Chinese consumers indicating they would pay more for personalized soft drink packaging, digital printing is positioned to grow well beyond industry estimates. In 2016 the market will experience the tipping point for digital package printing, as brands move beyond using it for limited editions and personalization, and capitalize on its economic and speed-to-market advantages for mainstream package decoration.
Show me the goods
With the growing number of on-pack claims competing for shoppers’ attention, consumers are demanding more information about what they are really buying but seeking less on-pack clutter that confuses their purchasing decisions. This is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in food, where clear and concise information about ingredients, functional product attributes and safety must be communicated with total transparency. Looking ahead, the concepts of clean labeling and clear on-pack communication are set to converge.
No longer is flexible packaging (specifically pouches) considered a tradeoff. Almost one third (32%) of consumers associate flexible packaging with being modern and brands are tapping into flexibles’ nearly unparalleled marketing opportunities. But at what point will flexible packaging, especially pouches, become nondifferentiated? Truly innovative brands will be looking to the next generation of rigid/flexible hybrids that offer functional and environmental benefits alongside great shelf presence.
More than “just” green packaging
Despite brands’ best efforts, package recycling is well below its potential. What’s more, 63% of U.S. consumers have stated that reusable and repurposable packaging is a key purchasing driver. Going forward, when product price and perceived product quality are equal, consumers will be increasingly turning to these eco- and alternative-use attributes as the deciding purchasing factor, and brands cannot afford to ignore this as they develop their brand positioning and marketing strategies.
American families are seeking value in larger container sizes for milk. And Millennials, who are driving snacking and new flavor trends, desire options in small sizes to try out new flavors and to fit their on-the-go lifestyles. What’s more, 50% of health-conscious snackers say they would be willing to try a new product if it comes in a small, trial-size pack. In 2016, brands must deliver packaging that consumers see as right-sized for themselves and shifting use-occasions in order to overcome the growing lack of brand loyalty.
There’s a revolution happening in mobile-engaged packaging. Unlike the previous generation that included clunky QR and text codes, this time around brand owners are tapping near-field communication (NFC) and bluetooth low-energy (BLE) as primary engagement technologies. Moving forward, as brands clamor for innovative ways to engage with shoppers, the mobile environment will become the new front line in the battle to win consumers’ hearts, minds and wallets.