By Lucy Bosten, Head of Marketing & Communications at Carlton Packaging

Packaging has come a long way from its conventional role as a mere means of product protection and transportation.

With more retailers and consumers moving online, the traditional retail shopping experience has significantly changed and the expectation for well-packaged products is becoming the norm. In recent years, it has evolved into a strategic tool that plays a crucial role in attracting consumers, promoting sustainability, and reflecting a brand’s values. It is an essential aspect of marketing that can impact how customers perceive a product.

As the first physical connection between brand and consumer, packaging plays a substantial role in defining brand experiences. In recent years, there have been several trends in marketing packaging that companies should be aware of to remain competitive.

Trend 1: Sustainability

Sustainability as a packaging trend is one of the most significant and transformative movements in the packaging industry. In an era of heightened environmental awareness, consumers are demanding more eco-friendly and sustainable packaging solutions, while brands are increasingly adopting biodegradable, compostable and recyclable materials to reduce their ecological footprint.

From plant-based plastics to innovative packaging designs that minimise waste, eco-conscious packaging has become a prominent trend that aligns with consumers’ values and expectations. Brands that embrace eco-friendly practices, use renewable resources, and adopt innovative sustainable packaging are positioning themselves for long-term success.

As consumer preferences continue to align with environmental concerns, sustainability will remain a critical factor in packaging design, influencing purchasing decisions and shaping the future of the packaging industry.

Trend 2: Personalisation

Another trend is personalisation. Consumers seek unique experiences and packaging is no exception. Companies are using packaging to create a unique experience for customers, whether it’s through personalised messages or customised designs. This trend has been particularly successful in the e-commerce industry, where packaging can be used to tell a brand’s story and create a connection with customers.

Whether through bespoke labelling, individualised product bundles, or allowing customers to design their packaging, this trend empowers consumers and strengthens brand loyalty. Brands that embrace this trend and invest in personalised packaging can deepen their relationships with customers, foster brand loyalty and differentiate themselves in a crowded market.

As technology continues to advance, the potential for even more sophisticated and creative personalisation in packaging will only grow, making it an integral aspect of modern branding and marketing strategies.

Trend 3: Minimalism

Minimalism as a packaging trend has gained significant popularity in recent years due to its simplicity, elegance, and effectiveness in conveying a brand’s message. Many companies are adopting this approach, with simple designs and fewer graphics.

This trend embraces the “less is more” philosophy, stripping away excess and focusing on essential elements to create a powerful and memorable packaging design, while also being a cost-effective and environmentally conscious solution.

Minimalistic packaging is also versatile and easily adaptable across product lines. This flexibility allows brands to maintain a consistent visual identity while offering a diverse range of products. However, it’s essential to note that while minimalism can be powerful, it may not be suitable for every brand or product category. Some products may require more elaborate packaging to communicate essential information, create excitement, or align with specific target audiences.

Trend 4: Technology

Technology is rapidly transforming the packaging industry and it has become a significant trend with various innovations enhancing the functionality, sustainability, and consumer engagement of packaging.

Smart packaging, equipped with sensors and RFID tags, offers numerous benefits, such as real-time tracking of products, ensuring product authenticity, and providing personalised content to consumers.

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From augmented reality features that allow shoppers to “try before they buy” to interactive QR codes that allow customers to leave real-time feedback, technology is creating immersive and engaging packaging experiences. With the surge in e-commerce, packaging technology is evolving to address specific challenges associated with online shipping.

Packaging that ensures product protection, reduces shipping costs, and enhances the unboxing experience is becoming crucial for brands in the digital marketplace.

Trend 5: Inclusive and ethical branding

Inclusive and ethical branding is a powerful packaging trend that goes beyond aesthetics and functionality. It focuses on representing diversity, promoting social responsibility, and aligning with consumers’ values.

As consumers become more socially aware, they expect brands to be transparent, inclusive, and socially responsible. Packaging is now seen as a canvas for reflecting a brand’s ethical values and commitment to social causes. Inclusive branding that represents diverse demographics and ethically sourced materials exemplify this shift towards conscious consumerism.

Your key takeaways

It is important that retailers accommodate to these packaging trends because it helps them stay competitive in the marketplace. Packaging trends can help retailers stand out from the competition, create a unique and attractive look for products, attract new customers, and increase sales. Additionally, packaging trends can help retailers reduce costs, improve sustainability, and create more positive and memorable customer experiences.

Customers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of packaging and are looking for more sustainable options. They are also looking for personalised packaging that reflects their individual tastes and preferences.

Additionally, customers are increasingly drawn to minimalistic packaging that is aesthetically pleasing and easy to store. Finally, customers are also looking for packaging that incorporates technology, such as QR codes, to provide additional information about the product or to show instructions on how to dispose of the outer packaging in the best way.

Companies that stay on top of marketing packaging trends will be better equipped to meet the changing needs and preferences of consumers. By embracing sustainability, personalisation, minimalism, technology, and inclusive and ethical branding, companies can create packaging that not only looks great but also resonates with customers on a deeper level.

Published 01/08/2023




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