By Sam Lewis, associate editor
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The packaging industry is ever-changing and brand owners must not only acknowledge those changes, but adjust alongside them to meet consumer demands, remain relevant, and strengthen the bottom line. Here are five trends that will steer the packaging industry next year.
Asia Pulp and Paper’s 2013 sustainability survey says almost 60 percent of American consumers would like their packaging to be more sustainable. Further, more than 40 percent of Americans are willing to pay a little extra for products with sustainable packaging. This evidence suggests that consumer preferences for sustainable packaging options are driving how packagers make decisions. Companies should be aware of this trend and begin implementing strategies to improve packaging sustainability as this trend will continue to grow through 2015 and beyond.
Brand owners can further sustainable packaging efforts by enhancing packaging traceability. Companies looking to improve supply-chain transparency can do so by telling how products are sourced, transported, created, warehoused, and sold. Further, brand owners can improve sustainability through product labeling by providing consumers with well-defined instructions about how to recycle the package. Finally, companies that offer reusable packaging can promote an environmentally-friendly demeanor, resulting in a positive association with the brand.
Better Barrier Technology
With paperboard packaging’s expected growth over the next few years, so comes growth in technologies for coatings and barriers for it. Companies using packaging made from paper and board will focus on creating coatings and barriers that are biodegradable, recyclable, and sourced renewably. Some companies are using bioplastics and water-based coatings and barriers to achieve this. Because of this, barrier and coating technologies will heavily influence how brands decide to package products next year.
Holding especially true in the food and beverage industry, the emphasis on decreased package weight for cost reduction and environmental benefits will continue to hold true through 2015. Lightweight packaging promotes sustainability, but brand owners should be careful that it doesn’t affect consumers’ experience with the product. The “packaging efficiency model” offers a holistic approach to packaging choices, from materials used to create it, product protection capabilities, and transportation efficiency to how it affects the consumer and its impact after product life. In 2015, it will be critical for companies to ensure sustainability while still considering packaging durability, weight, and consumer experience in packaging options.
Consumers have spoken and are showing the desire for packaging that is opened without frustration. To meet this demand, companies are continually developing packaging that requires no additional tools to open. This factor will play a big role in determining the companies that have met the needs of consumers and those who are experiencing lowered levels of customer satisfaction throughout 2015.