Five Packaging Trends to Follow in 2018
As package printers and brands strive to work together to meet the needs of consumers and end users of their products, it can be challenging to stay on the pulse of these consumers’ constantly evolving habits and preferences. Packaging plays a pivotal role in enticing a consumer to purchase a product, and understanding market trends can provide a guideline to the creation of successful packaging.
At the end of each year, Mintel, a market intelligence agency, releases a collection of “Global Packaging Trends” based on its extensive research and analysis of consumers and markets that it believes will have a major impact on packaging in the year to come. David Luttenberger, Mintel’s global packaging director, recently shared his insight into the five Global Packaging Trends for 2018 in a comprehensive video with packagePRINTING. View the full video by clicking here.
Sustainability will be among consumers’ top packaging concerns in 2018 and is outlined in the “Packaged Planet” trend Mintel has identified. The trend states that consumers will begin to understand packaging’s role in sustainability — specifically in its food preservation capabilities.
“Package innovation doesn’t need to be complex,” Luttenberger says. “The key here is on-pack communication, and educating consumers on the role that packaging can play in the elimination of food waste and preservation of food.”
For example, Luttenberger explains that the shelf life of certain fruits and vegetables can be significantly extended through the use of shrink wrapping. At first glance, a consumer may think that shrink wrapping a product like a cucumber, which has a built in protective skin, is extraneous. But Luttenberger explains that brands can communicate why this process is ultimately beneficial for food preservation.
The second trend Mintel has determined will have a big impact in 2018 refers to the growth of online shopping. The trend, which has been dubbed “rEpackage,” outlines what brands can do to ensure the experience consumers have when physically interacting with their items in a store is not lost in an ecommerce setting.
“Brands have spent a lot of time and a lot of energy to build the equity in their brand,” Luttenberger says. “Over the past few years and really in the last year, we’ve seen brands come on strong with packaging that is really optimized for that ecommerce supply chain that doesn’t cause them to add multiple SKUs to their product portfolio or their package portfolio, but gives something that when you receive it on your porch and when you open it, you have that unboxing experience that really reflects what the consumer expects from that particular brand.”
With so much competition in the marketplace, brands may think that the best way to catch the consumer’s eye is to provide packaging that offers the consumer as much information about the product as possible. However, Mintel’s third trend, “Clean Label 2.0,” advises against overloading a package with information and encourages embracing an “essentialist” design.
Luttenberger explains that a minimalist approach may not provide enough information to a consumer, but including too many product claims can become overwhelming. By selectively highlighting the most important information about a product on its packaging, the consumer will be adequately educated on its benefits, but not reach the point of information overload.
“There are so many good claims and so many things that brands believe consumers are interested in,” Luttenberger says. “So they keep adding a claim, and they add one more claim and they add another claim until it becomes cluttered and very chaotic on that label. We’re seeing the emergence of a design principle called essentialism. Essentialism really sort of straddles that fence between minimalism and clean label.”
Returning to sustainability, the fourth trend Mintel has identified for 2018 is “Sea Change.” Luttenberger explains that consumers are becoming increasingly aware of and concerned about sustainability issues and one of the major drivers of this awareness is plastic pollution entering the world’s oceans. According to Mintel, brands that utilize recovered plastic from the ocean in their packaging, or express their efforts to reduce the amount of packaging entering the ocean to consumers, can win back trust from the marketplace.
“This ocean plastic issue is the catalyst that’s driving a greater awareness around all packaging, environmentally responsible packaging, and what brands can do, what consumers can do and the interaction between the two to prevent more packaging from becoming waste,” Luttenberger says.
The fifth global packaging trend Mintel has outlined for the new year is “rEnavigate.” This trend refers to the decline of young consumers — particularly from the millennial generation — shopping in the center-of-the-store grocery aisles. These aisles are typically where the mass-produced or processed foods are, and milliennials are demonstrating a preference for the fresh or boutique items often found along the supermarket’s periphery.
This trend explains that through the use of contemporary packaging that refreshes a brand’s image and expresses the healthy attributes of a product, these younger shoppers can be enticed back into the center of the store.
“We’re seeing this resurgence in more contemporary packaging design,” Luttenberger says. “Going to different formats, going to those essentialist design principles and using those as drivers to show the younger consumers that there are fresh, healthy and better for you foods in those shelf stable, center of the store offerings.”
While Mintel’s five global packaging trends for 2018 span a variety of topics and consumer demands, Luttenberger explains that there is a commonality among all of them. He states that understanding these consumer desires and leveraging on-pack communication to address them is the heart of what will make for successful packaging in the year to come.
“Speak to the consumers,” Luttenberger says. “Understand what they are looking for and make that part of your brand messaging platform.”