What does 2016 hold for the packaging world?

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How will the predicted packaging trends for 2016 affect small business owners? Looking at some of the key findings found in Mintel’s latest report on global packaging trends, there is plenty of useful packaging advice to consider that could help you and your business enjoy a prosperous new year.

Uniqueness on the increase

When Coca-Cola launched its personalised ‘Share a Coke’ campaign, it made consumers feel more connected to the brand through personalisation — alerting retailers to the power of digital printing, too.

Unique packaging currently accounts for a tenth of all global packaging decoration. With a quarter of Chinese customers being prepared to pay a premium for personalisation, it is clear that using bespoke labelling and customisation can benefit retailers. Even if personalised packaging isn’t necessary, or appropriate, for your business, digital printing can be used to tailor your goods to your customers’ needs — and, crucially, make your brand stand out.

Flexibility and the modern age

Digital printing is brilliant for flexible packaging because product information and unique branding can easily be printed directly onto it. This now has become commonplace, especially in the food industry, and is seen as ‘modern’ by almost a third of customers.

While the pouch is here to stay, rigid packaging still has its place and, over the coming year, retailers should expect to see more innovative uses of rigid-flexible hybrid packaging that will fulfil all the expected functions, be sustainable, and have shelf presence.

Inspiration may be drawn from Asda’s ‘Little Angels’ baby wipes pack: flexible pouch of wipes with a built-in rigid pot of nappy cream — both accessible via a hinged, split lid. This won the UK Packaging Award for Consumer Convenience in 2012, and companies now are realising that consumer approval of packaging is becoming a primary design influence.

Clear communication with consumers

Consumers demand information about what they are purchasing. Consider the importance of product information in the food industry, for example. More than half of consumers in the UK check food packaging before they buy items, and more than three quarters of British customers are concerned about the use of artificial preservatives.

However, consumers are naturally put off by cluttered and confusing information, and are becoming more aware of ‘disguised information’ — a fact compounded by the Government who have recently introduced new food labelling procedures. Relevance is, therefore, vital. In 2016, successful products will have packaging that carries clear and concise information about a product’s ingredients, functionality, convenience, and safety. Kraft’s ‘Singles’ sliced cheese packaging is an object lesson in such simplicity. They received a number of complaints due to individual layers of thin film remaining on the cheese slices after unwrapping them — without warning — and causing a potential choking hazard.

The importance of sustainability

Consumers might face difficulties in recycling their own used packaging: compostable packaging has a number of regulations for example. Their local authority, too, may not provide a separate household recycling collection.

Nevertheless, in recent years, consumers have increasingly been expecting manufacturers and retailers to be environmentally friendly. Indeed, 63 percent of consumers in the US consider the ability to reuse or repurpose packaging a key factor when purchasing goods.

In 2016, manufacturers will capitalise on consumer demand for sustainability by focusing on alternative material sources. Packaging companies will need to liaise with brands, too. For a manufacturer to be confident that they can present a product as eco-friendly, they must check that the packaging they use is responsibly sourced. Packaging manufacturers will need to conduct thorough research when sourcing suppliers, to ensure that the raw materials they use are suitable.

Technology to facilitate mobile engagement

QR codes already enable consumers to engage with brands through packaging by using their mobile phones, but expansion is expected in 2016 with the use of near-field communication (NFC) and Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) technologies.

Such technology is already in use in the drinks industry to increase customer engagement and enable manufacturers to protect their brand. For example, the cap of a Remy Martin cognac bottle contains an NFC chip, which is activated when the bottle is opened. When an app is downloaded to the consumer’s phone, and the phone is tapped on the cap, the bottle’s authenticity can be checked. Rewards and prizes can also be accessed via the app. This is a brilliant example of how brands are using technology, one of the UK’s biggest areas of economy growth, in conjunction with bespoke packaging as a means of increasing awareness and engagement.

The role of logistics

NFC and BLE technology can be used at any point in the supply chain. It can help to determine when goods are picked up from a distribution centre, for example, or to calculate the optimum route between warehouse and retailer. The increasing use of new technology throughout the logistics process will enable optimisation, thereby cutting costs.

With the vital role packaging has in logistics, consideration must be given to secondary packaging used in transportation — as well as the primary packaging that surrounds a product.  Individually packaged products may be put in large, sturdy cardboard boxes for storage and transportation, and in 2016, there is likely to be an increased need for such packaging: the demands of online retail (such as the food industry) are showing no signs of slowing down.

Which of these packaging trends will benefit your brand this year? Stay on top of developments by checking our brand building centre.

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Remy Courtois

Remy has been a contributing author since late 2011, when he arrived at Davpack from a major packaging competitor. Originally a product buyer with many years of specialist knowledge in the fields of custom cardboard boxes and corrugated products, Remy now combines his purchasing and literary skills to maximum effect in our marketing team as a content writer. Born to French and British parents in Nottingham, Remy had a bilingual upbringing and has lived for the past twelve years just South of Paris. He presently commutes twice a month to France but is in the process of re-locating to his birthplace. Davpack

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