The 10 packaging trends for 2016 are based on influences that directly change the packaging market and the way packaging is evolving into the near future. Customer purchase behavior is a strong driver on how packaging and manufacturing companies choose to brand their product. Many units sold per product lead to higher production demand that in its turn leads to more packaging investments on machinery and materials. Looking at what larger market investigators such as Mintel, WHO and influential packaging organizations predict, we present a list of what the packaging market foretell as the most driving trends of 2016.
When influential market leading brands such as Coca Cola prioritize investments of sustainable nature other industries are bound to follow. Using sugarcane, Coca Cola initiated their PlantBottle initiative in 2009 were up to 30% of the plastic used in their bottles is organic. In June 2015 at the World Expo in Milan, Italy, the company announced the world’s first PET plastic bottle made from 100% plant based materials, surpassing their goal set for 2020. The trend setter estimates that since the start in 2009 the use of PlantBottle has helped save the equivalent emissions of 315,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. Other companies such as Heinz ketchup and Ford Motor have followed in their footsteps and we believe more are to follow.
As consumers grown more aware on product content, a demand for greater transparency on product and company level has been required to maintain costumer trust. The packaging industry is changing. Ingredients, functional product attributes, convenience and even safety has to be demonstrated with total transparency to gain this trust. Looking back only 10 years there was little to none display of company values on the actual products. Today transparency is key and many companies use clear non-clutter graphic packaging to state their values and product attributes. Glazing into the future this trend stays strong for 2016 as clear communication is predicted to converge with the packaging industry even more as announced by Mintel.
As Mintel presented the 2016 consumer trends there was a strong presence for compact products not just for food, furniture and home. But as we live in an urbanizing world of high density living this trend is also spreading into other fields and we have higher requirements for the things we spend money on. Mintel research shows that 57% of UK consumers say they always or sometimes borrow things instead of buying.
With the eco-friendly E3 EuroWrap pallet wrapper, Sal-tech Easy Packaging is targeting small business that want to take that first step into semi-automated packaging but feel they cannot spend a fortune on machine investments. With a pallet wrapper machine so small it could fit into a hallway or a garage it enables self-employers to expand their business without having to upgrade their storage facilities due to lack of space.
Sustainability and ECO as a sales argument is predicted to continue to be an important factor in packaging for 2016. Despite many brands riding the “green wave” in their marketing, packaging recycling is well below its potential. As Mintel states that 63% of US consumers see reusable packaging and sustainable products as a key purchasing driver, companies cannot afford to ignore the consumers as they develop their brands and marketing strategies. When product price and quality was equal between two similar products consumers would go for the greenest alternative. Many companies already have an environmental policy if even just on paper. As consumer behavior is changing the trendy sales argument has now become part of a lifestyle where companies change their packaging, production or material approach to secure customer demands are being met.
In a study made by WPO, World Packaging Organization during 2003-2009 health awareness was seen as they most important factor to growth in the packaging industry with stricter demands on semi-automated or automated packaging needs. As the manufacturing industry is going more and more automated the demands for wrapping, strapping, shrinking, bag sealing and portioning machines are becoming stricter. The pharmaceutical and healthcare industries are well aware that precision is a key factor when choosing the right machinery in production as a broken seal could lead to contaminants entering the product. The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, PMMI presented a report in 2015 showing health and wellness as an important influential factor on the packaging industry and the trend seems to continue in 2016.
The packaging of products as gone from just being a container to a way to express the lifestyle and emotion that a company wants to provide to the consumers. As today’s consumers tend to be less brand loyal this marketing method is increasing by the hour setting one in the strongest trends for 2016 and the years to come. Some companies such as Nike have chosen to build their entire business concept around a feeling or an emotion that they then try to project on to consumers.
Another big trend is flexible packaging such as pouches. According to Mintel´s Global New Product database the use of flexible packaging increased by 56% in the consumer packed goods category between 2010 and 2014. Analytics bureau Smithers Pira predicts this trend to be continuous until 2020 with the food industry as the main trend setter. Over the last 10 years the flexible packaging has progressed rapidly from simple mono layer bags to engineered coextruded, laminated or coated constructions. With compromising multiple material solutions such as plastics, paper and metal foils this new technology provide properties such as a high barrier to oxygen. As a result of this products reap the benefit of extended shelf life and convenience, something that is of high demand in the food and pharmaceutical industry. Due to the ability to tailor the packaging for a broad range of products this is believed to continue being a big trend in 2016.
With the new NFC tag technology packaging is predicted to become smarter and more interactive with its consumers. NFC technology is an electronic tag thin as a label that can be programmed to contain a certain amount of responsive data. Integrated in packaging containers such as bags or boxes it can be programmed to confirm the authenticity of a product or detect temperature differentiations to a product all the way through the supply chain. The options are limitless and only restricted by the actual programming and usage. NFC technology is so far only compatible with a small number of mobile phones, however many companies have already hopped on the trend. Mintel is predicting new smartphones to be compatible by 2017 and therefore setting it as one of the top high tech packaging trends for 2016.
As an indirect reaction to the desire for the package industry to personalize their product packaging the digital printing and digital printing machines are predicted to go up in demand for 2016. For 2016 market researcher Mintel predict there will be a tipping point as brands will go beyond using the digital printing just for limited edition and personalization and use its speed-to-market advantages for mainstream packaging. According to the bureau one fifth of U.S. Millennials are seeking custom packaging and nearly one fourth of Chinese consumers indicated they are willing to pay a little bit more for personalized soft drink packaging.
Another graphical trend is clean labeling and clear on-pack communication. As many stressed shoppers hurry through the jungle of super market shelves a clear packaging concept can be the crucial factor to if a product do well in sales or not. As on-pack clutter tends to impede purchasing decision with the consumers many brands have taken the decision to simplify the product description to be seen at an arm’s length as being passed by in the shelves.