Fresh from our visit to PACK Expo 2018, we wanted to share some key takeaways regarding packaging trends that you should anticipate in 2019 and beyond.
The Double-Edged Sword of Amazon
There’s no doubt that Amazon and other e-retailers have opened channels that brands could have only dreamt about a short time ago. The ability to go direct-to-consumer, throws the traditional retailer playbook out the window, but certainly comes with its challenges. One of those challenges is package design.
Ecommerce usually means that multiple hands will touch your product in pick-and-ship scenarios before being received by the customer. It also requires a different return process for damaged or unsatisfactory product. To that end, brands are redesigning their product packaging with ecommerce in mind, and many times flexible packaging is at the core of their redesign.
High amongst the advantages of flexible packaging is that it is easy to transport and store. Flexible packaging also generates less of a carbon footprint than some of its packaging alternatives, as a single truck of unfilled flexible packaging is equivalent to 26 trucks of unfilled glass jars. Finally, flexible packaging materials are easy-to-use on the go, thereby working well with products where convenience is an important purchase factor.
When we consider that grocery ecommerce is expected to grow 13% per year for the next four years, perhaps it’s not too difficult to envision pouring Campbell’s soup from a PET pouch rather than their iconic metal can.
Cringe. That’s what some of us do every time we see the term “sustainability” associated with, well, with pretty much anything. However, according to a 2015 EPA study, 37% of landfills are made up of packaging containers. And 34% of American consumers consider the type and amount of packaging materials used on a brand package to be indicative of the brand’s “environmental policy and commitment.”
Many times we equate sustainability to the ease of package recycling. However, the recyclability of product packaging is only the first step in the ongoing process for brand improvement. We expect to see more brands include reusability instructions of their product package right onto their package design.
Today’s consumer is demanding more transparency than ever before. From the ingredients used to the eco-friendliness of the packaging, brands need to consider the values of today’s consumer. Much of the need for this transparency is being driven by millennials and Gen Z’ers, both of which value honesty and immediacy. Before you dismiss the impact of these two groups, consider that they will comprise 63% of the global population next year.
An interesting example of transparency in packaging design is RX Bar, which puts their ingredients front and center in both packaging design and marketing efforts. Brands are learning that the best way to get the attention of these digitally pre-occupied consumers is with quick, meaningful messages.
The U.S. government is helping in this areas as well. While the FDA has pushed back required updates to the Nutrition Facts Label to January 1, 2020 (or 2021, depending on a business’ size of food related revenue), changes are indeed coming.
In addition to the inroads in flexible packaging previously discussed, brands will continue to invest in packaging innovation ideas that save time, money and improve the overall brand experience. Two key trends that we’re paying close attention to are smart labeling and augmented reality.
A recent survey by the Grocery Manufacturers Association found that 70% of shoppers want more information than what is currently provided on product labels. Smart labels can detail what ingredients do and where they are sourced. Some are taking it a step further, using augmented reality to transform the brand experience. Through the use of smartphone apps, brands are able to provide an experience that extends far beyond the size limitations of the product package.