Packaging up some predictions for 2018

Posted: Thursday 11th January 2018

Author: Daniel Porter


What lies in store for the packaging industry in 2018? This is not an exhaustive list, but here are a few things we think you’ll be seeing more and more of as the year progresses:

You can’t keep a lid on it
Smithers Pira’s comprehensive report on The Future of Industrial Packaging to 2022 predicts steady growth of 3.9% per year for the next five years. Anticipated growth in developing markets is set to be a major contributing factor to this, as is the continual innovation of packaging methods.

interpack and market intelligence agency Mintel share this optimistic view of the industry’s 2018 prospects. We do as well.

Going greener
Plastic packaging was in the news a lot in 2017 and rarely was it positive. David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II beamed into living rooms around the world the plight of marine animals and birds living among ever increasing quantities of our plastic waste. Consumer pressure is growing and, coupled with tighter government regulations, we are seeing greater moves to more sustainable forms of packaging. This trend is likely to gather pace in 2018.

In some instances this will see companies eschew plastic altogether for some of their products, replacing it with more easily recyclable or reusable alternatives. But plastic still has an important role to play and we will likely see more companies follow in the footsteps of Head & Shoulders (who launched a shampoo bottle made entirely out of recycled beach plastic) and Unilever (which is targeting 100% recycled plastic in all products by 2025) as more and more businesses seek to change the way that plastic is used and perceived.

Turning ecommerce packaging inside-out
Ecommerce has grown exponentially in recent years and companies are still trying to keep up with the changing demands of packaging in this sector, while also looking for ways to differentiate themselves from their competition. For reasons of security and practicality, packages are generally plain and inconspicuous on the outside. Once the box is opened though, the opportunities are endless to create a memorable user experience through decorated interiors, stylish product placement, careful wrapping and personalised touches – as outlined nicely here. Or, you could turn your plain, corrugated package inside-out to create a beautiful gift box. Look out for even more innovation in this area.

Seeing right through it
Transparency – clean labelling and clearer on-pack communication – was one of our predicted packaging trends back in early 2016. This has indeed has been a trend we’ve seen develop over the last couple of years, but this year we’re thinking a little more literally in our use of the word: packaging that lets you see right through to the product inside. It has been around in some forms for a long time, of course, but innovations such as the retortable plastic ‘can’ from McCall Farms in the US suggest we might well see more developments in the format. The tinned goods aisle may never look the same again.

Digital drive to more creative and personalised packaging
Coke led the way with their ‘Share a Coke’ campaign a few years ago and then brought it back with a difference for summer 2017. Nutella had customers personalising their own labels. Snickers has had some fun with their ‘You’re not yourself when you’re hungry’ catchphrase. All these memorable examples of marketing were enabled by digital print, which is offering marketers new opportunities to make their products stand out in the intensely competitive retail environment. There will be more of it in 2018.

What are your predictions? Care to share?


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