Young girl at computer
Young girl at computer

A look into the future of packaging design


A look into the future of packaging design

What does the future have in store for packaging design and manufacturing?

Will packaging talk to consumers, be edible or transform into something completely new after initial use?

Here at PHD, we have identified the key trends that we see shaping the foreseeable future of packaging design.

Craving Convenience 

Shifts in the social behaviour of ever-changing consumers are likely to continue to impact brands, new product developments and packaging design. As consumer lifestyles and consumption patterns alter, products and packaging design will align accordingly. 

Consumers crave convenience; the more convenient a product is, generally the more appealing to consumers it becomes, especially as every day lives become increasingly hectic. 

Products must easily slot into, and more importantly work around, the life of the consumer, not the other way around. Pre-sliced, pre-cooked, ready-prepared products packed in re-sealable, easy-carry and share packs are just some of the products emerging in a convenience driven market

Packaged fresh meat, fish and poultry consumption is forecast to grow at a faster rate than unpackaged produce to 2020, primarily due to the fact that large supermarkets and consumers search for food with a longer shelf life. Use of active packaging is also expected to increase in popularity due to its ability to keep products fresher for longer, both in retail and the consumer’s home.

As light as a feather

The environment is a key concern for the packaging industry; the challenge of striking the balance between a product being sustainable, whilst continuing to be efficient and innovative will remain in the years to come. 

This said, the industry is constantly coming up with new lighter weight packaging solutions whilst trying not to compromise on performance and functionality. According to the Industry Council for Packaging and The Environment (INCPEN), a one litre washing up liquid bottle today uses 64% less material than in the 1970s – we can only image how light they’ll be 10 years from now.

The light-weighting of packs is truly beneficial when it comes to considering the environmental impact of product transportation. The lighter each individual pack, the lighter the load for transit, meaning less fuel and energy is required to move the product from A to B reducing the carbon footprint of the overall supply chain.

Leading fresh food packaging manufacturer, LINPAC, has taken this approach with many products.  For example its meat, fish and poultry trays and food service catering ranges are manufactured from Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) which are estimated to be 93% air!  

Intelligent packaging 

The ‘internet of things’ trend is expected to rocket in the coming years. With inter-connected devices, from fitness trackers to controlling heating at home with a simple click from a smart phone, but what does the future hold for intelligent packaging?

Packaging can already connect to devices to inform consumers about further product ingredient information, provide reliable use-by-date data, deliver recipes and complementary product ideas, whilst retailers can track packs in transit today. Science and technology is an unstoppable force when it comes to new innovation and packaging does not escape the trend.  Packaging can be expected to interact with consumers on a new level, increase technological capability in terms of monitoring product freshness and nutritional value as well as deliver anti-counterfeiting capability and much more – the opportunities are endless, lets see how smart packaging can become. 

E-tailing

E-commerce is fast reshaping the retail channel. Today more than 1 in 4 consumers in the UK shop for groceries online, a figure that is expected to rapidly rise according to Retail Analysts IGD, who also forecast the e-commerce market will grow by a further £9.2bn by 2019 to reach £16.9bn and hold 8.3% of the UK grocery market share.

Packaging manufacturers need to grab this opportunity by providing functional and protective online packaging that is robust and suitable for transit, whilst delivering maximum ease to the consumer when the product reaches the door.

Speciality packaging manufacturer, Parkside, has already tapped into this space with its revolutionary protective packaging, Rockpocket™. Manufactured from a flexible film laminate, the skin of the pack contains polystyrene beads trapped in the outer layers. When a vacuum pump is applied to the pack, it transforms the pack in to a solid, highly protective secondary packaging solution. This type of innovation eliminates the need for the investment in “box and fill” packaging to meet the needs of the transportation process. The design is suitable for the protection of delicate or costly items and ensures goods arrive to the consumer in tip-top condition. 

Personalisation

In order to improve the consumer’s relationship with packaging it is vital that packaging meets the needs of each individual consumer in every way possible. Personalisation is key.

Consumers want to feel special, like a product has been specifically designed with them in mind; packaging can help deliver this.

Leading inline digital printing company, DataLase, has hit the jackpot when it comes to creating personalisation of packaging. A pre-printed patch is applied to a substrate through conventional print techniques – litho, flexo or gravure – and then later digitally laser printed at the point of packing and filling of a product.  This means packs can reflect key events within 24-48 hours of the event occurring and included personalised variable data such as messages, promotions, unique codes and graphics; an ideal solution to keep up with political and sporting events all over the world.

A second life for packaging - bag for life enthusiasts eat your heart out. 

We see a real future in second life packaging. The packaging industry is already doing its upmost to increase the use of post-consumer recycled materials in pack designs and creating packaging that is fully recyclable. What if more packaging could be kept in the consumers’ home and used for a second reason, post initial use?  Multi-functional packaging that provides practical solutions to storage, house design or can be used for gaming or connectivity?

With innovative packaging design becoming so fast paced nowadays, we enjoy keeping up to date with the latest packaging design trends and innovations. Our personal favourites are The Dieline platform and packaging innovation consultancy The Pack Hub which provide true inspiration in the industry.