Research group Mintel has identified four key trends driving packaging in 2019, and not surprisingly recycling comes close to the top.
It is joined by plastic-free packaging, packaging for commerce and connected packaging. This is packaging that uses the internet to improve a consumer’s experience of a brand through the packaging. It can be a QR code, augmented reality connection, NFC or RFID chip.
The QR code is the simplest and most widespread though not necessarily enjoying a good execution. For Mintel the benefit to both a brand and a customer is that these technologies can improve the enjoyment of a purchase. Activation may provide the consumer with more information, extending the brand story and at the same time delivering data to the brand for more detailed analysis and continuing connection with the customer.
There is no defined way that engagement happens. It may be a competition, a fun video or more details about how a wine is grown, delivering greater transparency that it seems consumers want (though which is not mentioned by Mintel).
The research company, however, does note that in many instances experience beats speed and can be used by bricks and mortar stores to counter the convenience associated with an online purchase. The connection can be used to reinforce the brand’s ethos, and is in line with the general trend towards fun and play that Mintel has identified in society in general.
The rise in ecommerce is unstoppable and leading to different packaging solutions to improve the customer experience and to protect the goods on their journey through warehouses and couriers to the door step. This includes outer packaging designed to deter ‘doorstep piracy’ by making the contents more difficult to identify.
Ecommerce is continuing to grow at 14% a year, and the opportunity is their for on demand creating of boxes that minimise waste, hence the many investments in producing corrugated boards and the technology to decorate them with inkjet messages.
Some brand owners are creating packs that are developed with ecommerce in mind. As an example Mintel mentions a Proctor & Gamble detergent in a bag in the box style presentation to protect it in transit and to reduce the journeys taken. There is less need to have shelf appeal, though the brand message needs to be strong.
Recycling has become more important to consumers and brands can differentiate themselves by using recycled materials, particularly plastics where single use materials are rapidly falling from favour.
This is closely related to Mintel’s fourth trend – the move away from plastic. Some packaging has switched from single-use plastic to recyclable boards or plastics developed from cellulose, seaweed or other non hydrocarbon sources.
Mintel anticipates a rise in plastic-free retailers. In surveys 80% of consumers say they would support a plastic-free supermarket, something that Iceland is aiming to become. There is equally a move to ‘bring your own container’ packaging free shops, though these are unlikely to become mainstream.
By Gareth Ward