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6 packaging trends for 2016

Personalization and pouches make Mintel's global packaging trends for the year ahead

Research firm Mintel is predicting a greater amount of personalization to go with enhanced mobile capability, more concise on-pack information, and further refinement of “green” products as part of its six global packaging trends for 2016.

1. THE DIGITAL EVOLUTION

Mintel predicts 2016 will be the “tipping point” for digital package printing, as brands move beyond using digital only for limited editions and personalization and begin capitalizing on its economic and speed-to-market advantages.

The success of Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” initiative – which helped reverse a decade-plus decline in sales – provides a window into the potential for digital printing, says Mintel, creating opportunities for brands to engage consumers on a local, personal or even emotional level.

According to Mintel, one fifth of U.S. millennials are seeking custom or personalized packaging, while nearly one quarter of Chinese consumers indicate a willingness to pay more for personalized soft drink packaging.

Digital printing currently accounts for an estimated 10% of packaging decoration around the world, with Mintel saying it is positioned to grow “well beyond” industry estimates.

2. GREATER FLEXIBILITY

Once regarded as a compromise, the use of flexible packaging (specifically pouches) increased 56% in the consumer packaged goods category between 2010 and 2014, according to Mintel’s Global New Product Database.

Nearly one third of consumers (32%) associate flexible packaging with being modern, while Mintel says it offers brands “nearly unparalleled” decoration and marketing opportunities.

The company says brands will continue looking to pouches to capture consumers’ attention in 2016, with “truly innovative” brands looking at the next generation of rigid/flexible hybrids, which combine functionality and environmental benefits with great shelf presence.

3. SHOW ME…BUT NOT TOO MUCH

While packaging is a great way to convey key brand information, consumers are also wary of an abundance of on-pack messaging that confuses their purchase decisions.

“Clear and concise information about ingredients, functional product attributes, or even convenience and safety must be communicated with total transparency – a key responsibility brands and consumers are placing squarely on packaging,” said Mintel.

The company predicts a convergence of clean labelling and clear on-pack communication.

4. THE EVOLUTION OF GREEN

Package recycling is currently “well below” its potential according to Mintel, with most consumers not having a real understanding of what to do with compostable packaging, for example.

According to Mintel, two key initiatives are beginning to resonate: A focus on alternative package material sources, and catering to the two thirds (63%) of American consumers who believe that reusable/re-purposable packaging is a “key” purchasing driver.

“When product price and perceived product quality are equal, consumers will be increasingly turning to these eco- and alternative-use attributes as the deciding purchasing factor,” says Mintel.

5. SIZE MATTERS

Brands must offer packaging – both larger and smaller – that consumers see as “right-sized” for themselves, their families and shifting use occasions, says Mintel.

While 39% of U.K. consumers would like to see a wider range of smaller bottles for alcohol, for example, families around the world are seeing value in larger milk containers, and 50% of health-conscious snackers say they would be willing to try a new product if it was available in a smaller trial-sized pack.

“As brands’ product portfolios grow, the ability to reach consumers in unique and time-shifting use occasions means brand-owners must offer a greater range of pack sizes,” says Mintel.

6. GOING MOBILE

Mobile is set to become the new “front line” in the battle to win over consumers, says Mintel, noting mobile interactions will account for 64 cents of every $1 spent in retail stores by the end of 2015.

Unlike the previous generation of mobile-friendly packaging, with its “clunky” QR and text codes and less-than-stellar augmented reality experiences, the next generation of mobile engagement will be built around near-field communication (NFC) and Bluetooth low-energy that will deliver on the promise of mobile enagagement, says Mintel.

This article originally appeared at Canadian Grocer.com.

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