Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor

February 2, 2017

6 Min Read
5 evergreen packaging topics that still matter to you

Packaging is a dynamic market, with new trends continually emerging. But for all the turnover, some critical issues linger. Perhaps they are more complicated or build in importance. Either way, packaging professionals clearly appreciate our guidance to help them navigate through their concerns, as this list shows.

During our end-of-year review of top articles, we noticed a handful of articles from before 2016 that still show up in the top 20 articles of this year. In the top 20! Page views for these articles at PackagingDigest.com still number in the many thousands, thanks mostly to their rich SEO (search engine optimization) appeal. Search for these topics in your browser and, bam! our links rise to the top.

Permit me a moment to boast, though, about our excellent reporting, too. That’s where the value to our community lies. We take our job seriously of keeping you informed, energized and knowledgeable; and are proud of what we do.

As with our other “top” lists, we start at No.5 and work our way up. Enjoy!

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5. Consumers shift packaging trends into overdrive

Almost two years ago, contributing writer and Tetra Pak executive Suley Muratoglu identified these 5 critical food and beverage packaging trends for 2015:

1. Packing packaging with personality (custom/personalized packaging)

2. Communicating with “Green Worriers” (sustainability)

3. Packaging for city dwellers (more frequent shopping; smaller households; easy to carry)

4. Designing for digital (ecommerce; online shopping)

5. Simplifying their lives (universal design)

His advice: “To fall into step with ever-more demanding and on-the-go consumers in 2015, packaging will need to up every aspect of its game. That means being greener; flawlessly functional; lighter and more compact; able to communicate its benefits clearly; and being not just highly visible, but fashionable as well.”

Turns out that Muratoglu’s keen insight into consumer trends and how they affect packaging decisions extends beyond the food and beverage markets, as well as through 2016—and, perhaps, even into 2017. Time will tell.

As an aside, this was the top article the year it was posted (2015).

NEXT: SOS around BPA

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4. SOS around BPA

Few chemicals used in packaging have scared the bejesus out of consumers like bisphenol-A. Commonly referred to by its initials, BPA is a building block for polycarbonate (PC) and epoxy resins used in linings for metal food/beverage cans and metal closures for glass containers. Physiologically, BPA is said to mimic the hormone estrogen and some studies have linked it to increased breast cancer risk, obesity and other health conditions.

Packaging professionals, rightly so, have been concerned, actively looking for viable alternatives, which are few and far between when you consider price as well as performance.

As a companion piece to the June 2012 Packaging Digest report on “BPA in packaging: Defying the pressure” (which also saw more than a thousand page views this year), our sister publication PlasticsToday prepared a “History of BPA,” which includes a timeline that tracks and explains milestones. It’s this June 2012 chronicle that earns the No.4 spot in our “evergreen” list.

This detailed history helps packaging professionals understand the complexity of the controversial issue, which is still making news. This spring, Packaging Digest regulatory columnist George Misko reported on a temporary point-of-sale BPA warning to comply with California’s Proposition 65 law.

NEXT: How packaging can sway empowered GenZs

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3. How packaging can sway empowered GenZs

What parent or grandparent can deny the influence kids have in purchase decisions? None that I know of. So how can packaging designers tap into that power? Seems like they’ve been picking up some tips from our Oct. 2013 article “The undeniable influence of kids.”

Packaging design expert Bill Goodwin, founder of Goodwin Design Group, answers burning questions, such as:

Why consider kids? “In 2012, kids buying power and influence had reached $1.2 trillion, with a ‘T’!”

How do kids relate to brands? When it comes to marketing, “today’s kids and adults see brands transparently, and are aware of everything.”

What tools should be considered? “The tools have…evolved. In effect they are the same ‘4 Ps’ of old; Product, Packaging, Promotion and Positioning. …target audiences have come to expect personalization from THEIR brands.”

Why is transformation required? “The key to success lies in relevance. Kids, as no other customers, demand transformation. …Technology alone has changed their expectations. …Kids seek out and embrace ‘new’ in their lives.”

Three years later, packaging designers still appreciate Goodwin’s good advice on how to market to this prominent audience.

NEXT: Consumers give healthy, convenient snacking a cheer

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2. Consumers give healthy, convenient snacking a cheer

In late 2011, POM Wonderful scored with consumers when it introduced its delicious and healthy on-the-go snack: Pom Poms fresh arils. The ready-to-eat pomegranate seeds are packaged simply in convenient, clear cups. All you need is a spoon and a napkin!

This product/package combo tapped into the growing consumer trend of healthy snacks that are portable and in a clear package so you can determine the quality. I personally look for this package in season every year since its introduction, price be damned.

Sometimes timing is everything. The debut of these convenient cups was just as the American economy was staring to recover from the Great Recession. Consumers were willing to spend a little more on a few special “treats.” Might as well also be healthy, too, right?

Pomegranate seeds have always been an indulgence for me, but the time and mess of separating the seeds from the fruit was a buying deterrent. No more!

Based on the number of page views, which puts this article in the No.2 “evergreen” spot, I’m guessing there are several packaging lessons to be learned from this example…or there are a lot of other pomegranate fans working in the packaging industry!

NEXT: Can’t get enough of cannabis

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1. Can’t get enough of cannabis

In 2014 when we published the groundbreaking article “Marijuana packaging: Beyond the baggie,” only two states had legalized marijuana for recreational use—but we still saw great promise at that time in the budding industry. After the November 2016 elections, that number has grown to seven states. And medical marijuana is now allowed in 28 U.S. states and the District of Columbia (DC).

According to Trinity Brand Group, which was responsible for the recent packaging design for ebbu’s cannabis products, “As the fastest growing industry in the U.S., legalized marijuana is already estimated to reach $6.7 billion in sales in 2016 and is projected to increase to $21.8 billion by the year 2020.” The source of these numbers is The State of Legal Marijuana Markets 2016 Report from ArcView Market Research.

What does that mean to you? In a word…opportunity. But, because most opportunities also come with challenges, packaging professionals will have many questions in coming months and years about packaging regulations, designs and production concerns for cannabis products.

This most-read article of 2014 showed up in the top articles of 2015 and makes another appearance in the No.1 spot of our 2016 “evergreen” list. We can’t say this will be its final appearance, though. As many companies consider the potential of entering the cannabis market, as well as any possible negative tradeoffs, Packaging Digest will continue to cover it from a packaging point of view and direct interested parties to our landmark editorial.

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About the Author(s)

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Executive Editor, Packaging Digest

Lisa McTigue Pierce is Executive Editor of Packaging Digest. She’s been a packaging media journalist since 1982 and tracks emerging trends, new technologies, and best practices across a spectrum of markets for the publication’s global community. Reach her at [email protected] or 630-272-1774.

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