Mintel predicts packaging trends for 2017

Research firm says intelligent, experiential packaging will lead consumer experiences

“Smart” packaging, packaging that is online friendly, and packaging that contributes to a positive brand experience are among the leading trends for the months ahead according to the latest version of Mintel’s annual Global Packaging Trends study.

The global research firm says that packaging is typically “white noise” — a silent but steady force in consumers’ daily life. However, the combination of superior structures and succinct branding, as well as increased symbiosis between packaging and mobile devices is having a marked impact on its importance.

The Experience of Packaging

According to Mintel, package design is growing in importance as brands attempt to not just create customer connections, but also drive experiences. “Consumers are increasingly looking for brands to engage and entertain them,” says Mintel.

Beauty brand AGEMA’s products, for example, feature secondary packaging of dry mud that must be broken to access the product inside, informing users that it can help create a moment of focus and relaxation.

Elsewhere, Scratchpad Cellars’ wines feature a blank label, inviting consumers to create their own. The product also features the logos of leading social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, encouraging customers to share their designs online using a dedicated hashtag.

“Packaging [is] a key component to the creation of memorable consumer shopper and user experiences, which, either in-store or in-use, build on brand values such as fun, community or authenticity as a means of motivating purchase intent and repurchase consideration,” says the report.

The (Re) Union of Package Structure and Branding

According to Mintel’s senior food and drink analyst Beth Bloom, the “majority” of consumers are now paying attention to package format and design, with purchase drivers either directly related to, or being communicated through, packaging.

According to Mintel, “the time is now” for brands to introduce unique packaging structures that differentiate their products, while at the same time helping to form and support brand identity and giving consumers an incentive to spend time with them.

Examples of superior packaging formats include PHD Skincare’s Never Miss a Spot sunscreen brand, which includes an extending wand that enables users to apply the product to hard-to-reach places without assistance.

Elsewhere, the Daisy Sour Cream brand switched to a squeeze tube from a plastic tub, while retaining the same design and messaging that helps consumers find the brand in store.

The Face and Role of Packaging Online

Mintel says that many brands are currently “failing to impress” in the delivery of their online packaging experience. However, it predicts that the online experience and the shift from in-store to in-home will become a “core part” of the packaging design conversation in the year ahead, as e-commerce becomes a more entrenched consumer behaviour.

The tea brand PG Tips, for example, has already moved to de-clutter its packaging, eliminating detailed imagery that failed to resonate in the thumbnail images offered by online retailers and making its logo the central image.

Packaging Gets Smart, Active and Intelligent

Mintel’s global packaging team sees opportunities for brands to engage, entertain and educate consumers in real time. Its research, for example, found that half of U.S. consumers are interested in scanning food packaging to learn about the provenance of fresh produce.

Insignia Technologies’ Nova label features a dot whose colour changes over time to correspond with on-pack freshness, providing a simple but highly effective aid for consumers that eliminates the need to interpret “sell by” or “use by” date codes.

Extend My Brand

Mintel experts say that as brand trust becomes more important in consumers’ purchasing decisions, packaging is destined to play a “more pivotal role” in helping brands gain entry and acceptance in new categories.

The beer brand Carlsberg, for instance, launched a limited edition grooming set called “Carlsberg Beer’d Beauty” with packaging that touted the “beautifying properties” of beer’s main ingredients and aligned with its instantly recognizable green bottle and logo.

Elsewhere, fashion brand Christian Louboutin leveraged its iconic red-soled shoes in the package design for its new beauty line. The cap on its nail polish, for instance, is eight inches high and rises to a sharp point, referencing its most extreme high heel, while its lipsticks can be worn as a pendant.

In the food industry, Campbell’s leveraged its name – and its instantly recognizable scripted nameplate – to introduce a line of sauces that used flexible packaging that distinguished them from its signature soup products.

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