Packaging Matters—Consumer Expectations Drive Global Trends

March 4, 2018

A customer walks down the aisle. Something green catches her eye on the third shelf. At that moment, the package becomes a sensory touchpoint in the path to purchase. The customer may not consciously realize the power of that package, but you can bet that before the product ever hit the shelf, a package designer carefully considered a variety of elements in the design and materials to ensure the product would get a first or second look.

Increasingly, package design is being driven not just by what a retailer or brand is looking for, but by what customers are demanding. In fact, according to Mintel’s Global Packaging Trends 2018 report, four of the key trends we can expect to see in global best-of-the-shelf packaging in the coming year directly reflect changing consumer expectations and values. Daymon Creative Services Director Steven Cox recently sat down with Retail News Insider to gives his perspective on the trends.

Trend 1: Packaging to Reduce Waste

Fact: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted globally each year. As more shoppers look to reduce food waste, they are beginning to realize that the right packaging can help.

“Consumers are looking for ingenuity,” Cox explains. “It’s the legacy of doing what’s right for people and the planet. That will drive some retailers to demand more out of the packaging they use for their products, particularly those retailers who want to be known for more than just selling products.”

Still, Cox believes this trend is in its early stages. “I think this is a concern for most brands, but not yet something that most brands are willing to act on quickly.”

Trend 2: Packaging for E-commerce

Fact: E-commerce sales are forecast to reach $4 trillion globally by 2020, representing nearly 15 percent of total global retail sales, according to eMarketer. With ever-increasing competition, it’s no longer enough to simply get products to shoppers’ doorsteps. Retailers must also consider that “a-ha” moment when the consumer opens their package upon delivery.

“Durability and dimension are two key factors,” Cox says. “When your package is delivered and it is more bubble wrap than anything else, consumers are beginning to question why that is happening. Using the right materials for sustainability and/or recyclability are top of mind today.”

Trend 3: The New “Clean Label”

Fact: According to a survey by Nielsen, only about half of consumers in Europe and North America trust health claims on food packaging. As a result, a growing number of brands are abandoning reliance on long lists of label claims and keeping their on-packaging messaging simple.

“I don’t think consumers are overloaded with claims; however, they are very aware of the ones that matter. They do their research and, with the amount of information that is shared (true or not) on social media, they have made certain decisions before they even have set foot into the store,” Cox explains. “Packaging is not where consumers decide if they will make a purchase but it’s the way brands can reinforce the right claims and help consumers sift through the clutter on shelves.”

Trend 4: Eco-Friendly Packaging

Fact: It is estimated by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish. For a growing number of consumers, what the package is made of now matters just as much as what’s in it.

“There are stand out [brands] like Seventh Generation, who has led the way in environmentally-friendly packaging. Their products are free from chemicals and they were using molded paper cartons before it was cost effective to do it.” Cox says more retailers and brands will get onboard (and off plastic) with eco-friendly packaging as new, more cost-effective solutions become available.

To learn more about Daymon’s branding and package design services, contact Aimee Becker, Senior Vice President of Strategic Services, at abecker@daymon.com.

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