Smarter, more entertaining, more engaging, and memorable are among the recommendations and insights for packaging in the upcoming year detailed in a just-released report by Mintel. The market research firm tags five key trends set to impact global packaging markets in 2017, with implications for consumers, brands, retailers, and package manufacturers.
“Consumers often and easily get caught up in the unending ebb and rapid flow of commercial fads, social issues and branded messages,” says David Luttenberger, global packaging director at Mintel. “With so much clutter constantly vying for their attention, packaging becomes white noise – an often silent, but steady force in consumers’ daily lives.”
However, the impact of the combination of superior structures and succinct branding, the way packaging and our mobile devices are becoming inextricably intertwined, and the way brands are using packaging to reach out to consumers beyond their traditional categories — to include the influence of online shopping – is having more of an impact than consumers realize, at least for now, he says.
Luttenberger and members of Mintel’s global packaging team took a look at emerging, morphing, and mainstreaming packaging trends to determine what’s ahead. Here’s what they found:
The [Re] Union of Package Structure and Branding
Clean label messaging continues to trend around the world. But with one-third of U.S. adults noting that high-quality food packaging is an indicator of product quality, and three in five U.K. consumers saying they pay attention to beverage packaging formats, the time is now for brands to roll out unique packaging structures that not only differentiate on shelf but also help form and support brand identity, as well as give consumers an incentive to spend time with them. The bottom line: Good packaging protects your product. Great packaging protects your brand. Looking ahead, Mintel sees a current and continued emphasis on package functionality and the emergence of structures that work hard for consumers and build equity for brands.
The Face and Role of Packaging Online
While shoppers are embracing e-commerce for everything from convenience to luxury, the majority of grocery brands have yet to capitalize on the role of packaging in the e-commerce shopper moment. Although still niche, the importance of e-commerce is growing as an increasing number of consumers supplement brick-and-mortar shopping with online shopping. This trend is only going to grow, as three-quarters of U.K. consumers say that in 10 years time, they expect to do most of their shopping online. What this means for packaging is less clear in the short-term, but, currently, brands are failing to impress with the delivery of their online packaging experience. Looking ahead, brands must explore both the opportunities and threats that online shopping can bring, while considering the implications for packaging to remain an integral piece of the purchasing decision. In the coming year, Mintel’s expects the online experience and the shift from in-store to in-home to become a core part of the packaging design conversation and brief.
Packaging Gets Smart, Active, and Intelligent
Increasing demands for food safety, waste reduction, patient compliance, and the removal of consumers’ exposure to hazardous or fraudulent products — these are just a few of the core drivers now propelling the rapidly emerging genre of smart, active, and intelligent technologies for packaging. While there is a lack of standardized definitions for smart, active, intelligent, and even mobile-enabled packaging, there are still clear and measurable connections with consumers and in some cases, it is even saving lives. The report notes there are current opportunities for brands to engage, entertain, and educate consumers in real time. While future-forward, smart, active, and intelligent packaging technologies are complex by design, they are easy for consumers to use and benefit from.
The Experience of Packaging
Packaging design has become dominated by the need for brand recognition and variant identification and information. In fact, 52% of US food shoppers report being drawn to packaging with unusual or eye-catching designs and 44% of Chinese consumers are interested in personalized packaging for carbonated soft drinks. This, alongside a monotonous retail experience driven by globalization and the need for speed and efficiency, has led to a sea of packaging that all looks the same and suffers from information overload. The next generation of branded products, particularly those aimed at difficult-to-engage younger consumers, or the more cynical, such as the aging hipsters of Gen X, are looking at design as a bigger part of the brand, not just to create connections, but to drive experiences. All along the way, consumers are increasingly looking for brands to engage and entertain them. Mintel sees packaging as a key component to the creation of memorable consumer shopper and user experiences, which, either in-store or in-use, build on brand values, such as fun, community, or authenticity as a means of motivating purchase intent and repurchase consideration.
Extend My Brand
Price is a key factor in consumers’ purchasing decisions, but brand trust also plays a pivotal role. According to Mintel Purchase Intelligence, in the U.S. when reacting to new product launches, brand trust can reach as high as 94%. Indeed, 35% of Brazilian consumers only buy haircare brands that they have used before and 53% of Chinese consumers say they are quite loyal to a brand they like. Brands can leverage that familiarity to create loyalty and extend a product portfolio well beyond traditional categories. It’s here that the development and exploitation of unique and functional packaging decorated with clear, on-pack messaging can be a primary motivator of the purchase decision process. In the coming year, packaging will perform a more pivotal role in helping brands gain entry into, and acceptance in, new categories.