This article is a report from www.mintel.com on five emerging trends in packaging. Mintel is a leading market research and intelligence agency. The report looks at how these trends are affecting companies’ brands, consumers, retailers and packaging producers in 2017.
One third of US adults noted that if they thought that the packaging of a food product was high quality, they assumed this was an indicator that the product itself would be high quality too.
The Mintel report states that there is a current and continued emphasis on the functionality of the packaging and there is an emerging trend that the structure of the packaging works hard to make the overall product better for consumers. For example, 21% of Canadian consumers indicated that they were interested in resealable or reclosable packaging in order to reduce waste.
Online shopping continues to increase across all product categories, however grocery brands have been slow to catch up. The full implications for packaging design are not yet known but the report includes some examples that give an idea of the emerging issues that need to be considered.
The report shows photos of Graze products. Graze is an online shop that sells nutritious snacks and consumers can pick and choose which snacks to include in a box. The packaging was designed to look good and also to fit into a standard household letterbox. Graze has recently expanded into a retail store as well and photos of their retail packaging is shown also. Some of the implications of this for a packaging design are that packaging needs to look good not only when viewed on retail shelves but also when shown in small photographs on a website. Also regarding outer packaging size, it must fit through standard letterboxes and be sturdy enough to protect the product during the postal journey.
75% of UK consumers stated that in 10 years’ time they expect to do most of their shopping online.
An example of a packaging design that has adapted to online shopping is the PG Tips decaf tea bags box. The image below shows how the design was revamped to work better when viewed in a thumbnail size on online shopping websites. The design was simplified (bottom image) and any unnecessity detail removed so that the image worked better when viewed online.
The report states that packaging is becoming “smart, active and intelligent”. It acknowledges that there is a lack of standard definitions of intelligent packaging but it is generally accepted that it means that the packaging can do more than just passively contain and protect the product. The report cites the drivers for the rise of intelligent packaging as follows: consumer concerns about food safety, waste, patient compliance and the removal of the consumers exposure to hazardous or fraudulent product.
Fact: 50% of US consumers are interested in scanning food packaging to learn more about the provenance of fresh produce.
The reports states that 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 report states that “packaging design has become dominated by the need for brand recognition and variant identification and information”. One would have thought that the need for brand recognition is a constant need and not an emerging trend? However, the report goes on to observe that the retail experience has become more monotonous due to globalisation of products and the need for shoppers to complete their shopping in a fast and efficient manner. It claims that this 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.”
The report includes some examples of products where the packaging is part of the experience, either amusing or entertaining the consumer or having a use by itself.
The example of the Kitkat brand in Japan is given. “In Japan, many consumers are in the habit of giving a pack of KitKat chocolate bars to students taking school or college entrance exams to wish them luck. As many of them write some well-wishing messages on the pack, the company has created this ready to-mail KitKat pack, which only needs a 140 Yen stamp affixed on the pack to be mailed directly to the recipient”.
This packaging enhancement technique could be used very well for cartons and sleeves as these are printed on cardboard which could have an area left blank where a consumer can write directly onto the packaging. This could work well for Christmas products or gift products where a consumer could write a gift message directly on the carton or sleeve, similar to the Scratchpad 2014 Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc wine bottle labels shown below.
This topic of using packaging to help launch new product categories is an ongoing trend. The report gives examples of brands, such as Carlsberg, the beer company, who have entered the men’s haircare market and have used the packaging design style from their beer products on their haircare products. The goal of doing this is to capitalise on existing consumer loyalty.
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