Supercharge Your Packaging Strategy With These 5 Trends


Sixty-six percent of consumers say they would like to try a new product because of the packaging, while fifty-nine percent of consumers say they have actually tried a new product based off of its package. Intention is clearly different than action, but how can brands address this insight to create packaging consumers will come back to time and time again?  

In a recent BrandSquare webinar, David Luttenberger, global packaging director at Mintel, explains five emerging packaging trends that will affect brands, consumers, retailers, and packaging converters in 2017.  

Whenever you look at packaging trends and package innovations and design, begin and end both your new product and new package ideation sessions by answering the following statement:    

“Our packaging makes consumers’ lives __________.” 

"If you can fill in this blank with a positive attribute, then you’ve really begun to go down that path of creating packaging solutions verses packaging disruptions," says Luttenberger. 

According to Mintel, disruptive packaging wows consumers at the PoS, but often stops short of motivating the purchasing decision or fulfilling the use promise due to a lack of emotional connection or inability to address a need-state. On the other hand, solutions-based, or functional, hard-working packaging wow at the PoS and makes an emotional connection — practical, rational, or irrational — with consumers because it addresses a need-state and makes a consumer’s life __________ [fill in the blank]. 

In leading into the trends Mintel has seen in the last few years, brands and converters are really concerned about creating chaos — disrupting the category. But oftentimes, if you put a package on the shelf that is so different, but the consumers don’t understand what that difference means to them, then it truly does just become a packaging disruption.  

We’re moving into an era where we are beginning to see consumers search for functional, solutions-based packaging. When a consumers sees and understands the difference and how it affects their lives, then you’ve really begun to look at packaging innovation with a solutions-based perspective and not just being a disruption in the category. 

The [Re] Union of Package Structure and Branding 

Looking back a few years, brands shied away from unique structures and instead used color and texture to create chaos or differentiators. Now, consumers are looking for more out of their package. They want the package to carry brand messages and communicate the essence of the brand. 

Brands are responding by using structure and graphics in harmony to enhance those connections with consumers — giving them an incentive to spend time with them. When and where the message fails, package structures are providing brands with a silent communications tool that consumers are hearing loud and clear. With fewer consumers believing brands’ on-pack messaging, unique and functional structures are finding their way into retail as an alternative means of capturing attention and commanding shoppers’ attention. A lot of times, consumers are looking for packaging that can tell a story — something that intercepts what they like within their lifestyles, and what they would like about the brand.  

"Good packaging protects your product. Great packaging protects your brand." 

Packaging helps build equity in your brand and helps to reinforce who you are as a brand and what it means to consumers and their lifestyle, including purchasing behaviors and mindsets of usage. 

According to Mintel, a third of US adults note that high-quality food packaging indicates that the product inside is also of high quality, underlining the importance of structure and aesthetics. Six in ten UK respondents indicate paying attention to beverage packaging format, and nearly the same amount pay attention to label design indicating that the package is more than simply the thing that holds what's inside.  

Look at how your packaging can marry structure and graphics together to carry forward that essence of your brand and speak to consumers.  

The Experience of Packaging  

Packaging has become a key component to create memorable purchases — engaging consumers on an experiential level — building brand awareness, loyalty, and driving repurchase.  

"Consumers today like to collect merit badges more than tangible things. It's not just about things today, but it's about our experiences," says Luttenberger.   

When brands offer personalized or customized products, it provides an emotional connection to consumers. In fact, nineteen percent of US millennials are interested in personalized packaging for beverages while forty-four percent of Chinese consumers are interested in personalized packaging for carbonated soft drinks. These types of packages offer a modern twist for packaging labels young consumers crave.  

Experiential packaging doesn’t have to be complex to be effective. For example, Coca-Cola and Orangina have created packaging experiences that can begin in the store and extend to anywhere. Orangina developed a can with the closure on the bottom. This is engaging at the moment of purchase and draws attention to a core brand message: that the drink needs to be shaken before drinking. 

Significant opportunity lies in pairing unique structures and clear brand communication, particularly for younger and male consumers, both groups showing a higher than average likelihood of being drawn to attractive packaging.  

Extend My Brand 

Many brands are experiencing success by using their consumer insights to extend into other categories. Globally, consumers like having products that are familiar. As consumers become loyal to a brand, why not offer other options that they may also choose? A great example is Carlsberg (beer) entering the beauty category with men's shampoo and grooming products. Carlsberg understands that their demographic drinker, young males, also like to take care of their personal hygiene. They leveraged the "beautifying properties" of their beer's main ingredients along with a packaging line-up that tied directly to their famous green beer bottle and logo display.  

Keep in mind, brand extensions work best when a brand understands not only what its core consumers like, but "what else" they like and like to do.  

Packaging Gets Smart, Active and Intelligent 

Mobile-enabled packaging is making clear and measurable connections with consumers, whilst active packaging technologies promise novel product benefits. The first generation of smart packaging (think: QR Codes) was all about fun, but as we enter the second generation of connected packaging, this is where you see the trend of life hacking — consumers seeking tools to help them maximize their productivity.  

READ: The Connected Package: The Next Generation in Brand Efficiency, Interaction, and Appeal    

Moving from fun to functional, tutorials and recipes are being updated with safety information and contextual relevancy. Engagement matters on the front end of smart and active packaging, but the results matter on the back end.  

The Face and Role of Packaging Online 

Consumers are embracing online shopping, but packaging design is stuck on the shelves. Packaging needs to work both in-store and online, and meet expectations upon delivery. Don't let your packaging suffer from a bad online shopping experience. Take into consideration: "Does this experience replicate the brick-and-mortar experience?"  

"Embrace packaging as not only a delivery mechanism, but as a way to continue to build equity and repurchase consideration," says Luttenberger. 

For online-only brands, current packaging is failing to deliver: not communicating brand or values, not easy to use/get into, difficult to dispose of, and not always protecting the product. E-commerce packaging for CPG brands have not reached the point of differentiating in-store and online pack variants, so pack design needs to work in both venues.

For the entire Mintel report, visit: Global Packaging Trends 2017