07 January 2018 xEvents

Research identifies five directions for packaging in 2018

Mintel has laid out five key trends that will shape packaging design and materials for the coming year.

Consumers want packaging that is not harmful to the environment, that extends food life, that has on shelf appeal, that communicates clearly and which improves the online shopping experience, says consumer research group Mintel.

In Global Packaging Trends 2018, Mintel identifies five trends that will drive packaging in the coming 12 months drawing on findings from consumers from across the world. For example 36% of Australians prefer their packaging to be eco friendly, or more than half of Chinese consumers, aged 24-49, make online purchases because online shopping is fast and convenient.

The first trend for packaging is to stress its role in reducing food waste by being able to prolong the life of perishable foods. At the same time, sell by and use by dates need to be clearly communicated to avoid edible food being discarded before that is necessary. Smart labels can help.

Labels can also be designed and printed to confirm Mintel's second trend which it calls Clean Label 2.0. This is the move to remove too much information presented to consumers, while also suggesting that too little information can also be off putting to consumers. Artisan brands, Mintel says, can pare back too far. This can leave consumers outside their comfort zone so becomes a disincentive to make a purchase. The approach will be to highlight key qualities of the product without swamping the packaging and confusing buyers.

A growing concern for pollution in the ocean is the third of Mintel's trends. This will be evident in brands seeking to use an increasing volume or recycled or recovered plastics. Unilever created a shampoo bottle for a limited edition run using plastics that had been collected from beaches and other brands will seek ways to promote the circular economy, for plastics at least. Consumers, presented with the problems of plastic in the oceans, will seek those brands that are trying to ease the problem.

E-commerce is highlighted as an opportunity for packaging as it is projected to reach $4 trillion in sales, 15% of global retail sales. Currently packaging does not reflect the experience that consumers receive when interacting with a brand in store and this will have to change. Consumers expect the same brand experience whether buying online or in store. This may come through better design and branding, more colour and development of the opening experience.

Its final trend is the way that shopping habits are changing. What used to be a mammoth weekly shop has become a series of more frequent ‘mission’ shopping trips. Younger households have learned to focus on the chiller cabinets with fresh food around the edge of a store. Now retailers want to attract them into the central aisles and are redesigning layouts to do this, says Mintel. Products in these areas can be perceived as staid or old fashioned. Consequently brands are refreshing designs, using transparent packaging, novel shapes and materials to attract the young affluent consumer.

Packaging will reflect the time saving, helpful and good value attributes that shelf stable products have.

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