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4 fast-moving trends in food and beverage packaging

4 fast-moving trends in food and beverage packaging
Brands are creating personalized packaging to appeal to consumers on a closer level.

Formed around some of the key findings from Mintel’s latest report on global packaging and other industry research, here are some of the evolving trends that are predicted to make a significant impact on brand packaging design and influence how consumers interact with packaging for foods and drinks in 2016 and beyond.

1. Personalization

Personalization is a theme that will permeate through 2016, especially within design. Mintel’s global packaging director David Luttenberger explains that “there’s a parallel path between brands striving to engage customers on a more personal level and consumers’ expectations for packaging to deliver that experience.”

Technological advancements has given rise to the surge of personalization as we have begun witnessing in the last couple of years, with Nutella offering personalized jars, Heinz’ running a competition to win a personalized bottle of HP sauce for Father’s Day and, of course, Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign (see photo above), which brought the trend to the fore of global mainstream and proved to be extremely successful.

Some companies have experimented with interactive ways of personalization, allowing consumers to feel they are putting their mark on a brand to the point where it has entered the realm of co-creation. For example, Spirits brand Whiskey Blender set up a website where people could create their own blends from up to seven variants of the spirit and then design their own label for the bottle. Likewise, Heineken allowed customers to personalize six-packs of its beer in Europe.

Giving consumers the chance to customize products has the potential to create a new source of revenue; interestingly, almost a quarter of Chinese customers said they would pay more for personalized packaging (Mintel), and 61% of US customers feel more positive about a brand when marketing messages are personalized (Forbes).

Taking personalization one step further, we will likely see brands looking at how they can better use big data for personalization within particular target markets such as specific demographics, geographical area and interests.

NEXT: Cleaner and clearer labeling

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Did you know? Our parent company UBM owns these popular packaging events: WestPack, EastPack, PackEx Toronto and PackEx Montreal. Click the links to learn how you can connect in person with leading packaging technology partners, expand your professional network, hear experts analyze key packaging trends and gain a better understanding of today's critical issues.

2. Cleaner and clearer labeling

Now more than ever, consumers are demanding that the labeling on their food and drinks packaging is clear and concise. When trying to choose which products to buy, consumers don’t want packaging to be overloaded with messages; they want the most important information—such as ingredients and nutritional value, function and safety—to be communicated to them in ways that are visibly clear and easy to understand so that they can make informed purchasing without confusion.

Consumers are also calling for more information on the products they are purchasing. For example, in the U.K., 58% of customers check ingredients information, while more than three quarters are concerned about the use of artificial preservatives.

From a consumer perspective, the clean labeling and clear on-pack communication approach helps them trust in the brand. Expect to see food manufacturers keeping up with these consumer demands and improving the labeling on their products in such ways.

NEXT: Appealing to the senses

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Did you know? Our parent company UBM owns these popular packaging events: WestPack, EastPack, PackEx Toronto and PackEx Montreal. Click the links to learn how you can connect in person with leading packaging technology partners, expand your professional network, hear experts analyze key packaging trends and gain a better understanding of today's critical issues.

3. Appealing to the senses

Although not a new development, manufacturers and brands are starting to see the relevance and benefits of different sensory elements being integrated into packaging. The visual element of packaging is almost always the first aspect of packaging that consumers interact with—and perhaps the most influential in terms purchasing decision.

However, many experts define touch as the most arousing of human senses, with consumer neuroscience showing that the activity of the orbitofrontal cortex is also related to our willingness to buy, and even more importantly, a willingness to pay a higher price.

As consumers, there are certain tactile qualities that we tend to associate with feelings of “luxury,” “quality,” “freshness” and more. Designers are working to create packaging that conveys these types of desired product associations through tactile sensations. Tactility can be expressed by a number of printing and converting technologies, such as embossing, laser-etching, molded patterns, speciality materials and even tactile coatings. While these effects can add time and costs to the packaging production process, the added value they deliver on shelf could be worth the extra investment.

Special effects on packaging can attract greater attention and create that “wow” factor, but can also be used to provide relevant information to the consumer. Tactile packaging solutions are being used to communicate information in ways that may be more effective and accurate than words. Designer, Solveiga Pakastaite created the 2014 Dyson award-winning “Bump Mark”—a tactile expiry date—a small bioactive sheet of gelatin that is placed on the packaging and indicates that the food should be tossed out when the texture of the gelatin changes from smooth to bumpy.

Recent technological developments have made it much cheaper and quicker than ever before to prototype novel packaging designs and print finish coatings. To attract interest, increase the value of a product or packaging—and boost sales—brands will undoubtedly be looking to differentiate their products through various materials and finishing effects that appeal to the senses, primarily visual and tactile, but also scent, taste and auditory.

NEXT: Packaging mobilization

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Did you know? Our parent company UBM owns these popular packaging events: WestPack, EastPack, PackEx Toronto and PackEx Montreal. Click the links to learn how you can connect in person with leading packaging technology partners, expand your professional network, hear experts analyze key packaging trends and gain a better understanding of today's critical issues.

4. Packaging mobilization

Mobile-engaged packaging is on the rise as mobile technology is allowing for information to be communicated in both simple and smart ways. Now that the vast majority of consumers are smartphone savvy, brands are exploring Bluetooth LE and near-field communication (NFC) as new ways to present information and engage consumers. Beverage company Diageo has introduced NFC technology onto printed labels on liquor bottles. This technology works by sending signals over a short distance and thus can wirelessly speak to consumers’ smartphones.

Mintel’s Luttenberger says: “Brands and manufacturers are innovating packaging to keep global customers not only engaged, but to develop brand loyalty, which is becoming more and more tangible in this modern age where consumers have more choices than ever before across all packaged goods.”

Nikki Clark is the group marketing manager of Graphic Packaging Intl., Europe's leading printed carton supplier to the food and beverage industries.

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Did you know? Our parent company UBM owns these popular packaging events: WestPack, EastPack, PackEx Toronto and PackEx Montreal. Click the links to learn how you can connect in person with leading packaging technology partners, expand your professional network, hear experts analyze key packaging trends and gain a better understanding of today's critical issues.

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