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Disruptive to Functional: How Packaging Will Evolve in 2017

Posted By: SGK February 10, 2017

Packaging functionality is becoming increasingly important to consumers. While they don’t mind being entertained, it’s crucial for brands to understand the difference between disruptive packaging and solutions-based, functional packaging and how each provides value to consumers.

READ: Retail is the Ultimate Social Platform  

It's important to determine which solution will create emotional differentiation on-shelf and reflect what speaks to the consumers. For example, today’s consumers hold a lot of information, and when they go shopping, they already know many attributes regarding the products they buy. With that, it is very important for brands to leverage packaging to ensure that when the consumer is in-store deciding between products, that the packaging truly speaks to them and provides the brand message.

Disruptive packaging. Packaging has become a key component to creating memorable purchase and use experiences — building brand awareness and driving brand loyalty. The package design has become dominated by the need for brand recognition and variant identification and information. With that, consumers are increasingly looking for brands to entertain and engage them.

Retailers’ over-emphasis on speed, convenience, and price has led consumers to crave experiences — forcing brands to set even higher standards for creativity and fluidity. Now, brands must capture their audience’s attention while at the same time inserting themselves seamlessly into their lives. Attention is precious, so give consumers an incentive to spend time with you. Extend beyond novelty but asking yourself: Is your campaign helpful? Surprising? Does it give your audience something to do, smile or think about?

Functional packaging. While packaging’s ability to maintain freshness is paramount, the ability to easily open packaging is a key functional attribute consumers are looking for. Utility is also very important to modern consumers — being able to reuse or repurpose the package. Packaging that has the ability to be recycled is equally important. 

Consumers want to see the added value and benefit for the price they pay. In fact, according to Mintel, 81% of US consumers indicate it’s important for all packaging to offer some additional functional benefit, and that benefit can be the deciding factor when it comes to purchasing decisions. So, for a brand that addresses food waste prevention as a priority, solutions-based packaging allows consumers to use ever last bit of the product, reducing their overall spend on frequently-used products. 

When Aptar Food + Beverage partnered with Daisy Sour Cream to create the Daisy Squeeze-Flexible pouch, its inverted, wedge-shaped pouch with an innovative flip-top dispensing closure helped eliminate risks of contamination from dirty utensils, minimizes wasted product and provides an easy-to-control and drip free dispensing system, all while fitting easily into refrigerator doors for easy access. All benefits for the consumer.

Daisy Squeeze represents an outstanding accomplishment in structural packaging innovation and branding, as the pouch graphics mirror those of the former rigid container, which makes the conversion easy for consumers, as they don’t have to hunt for their favorite brand. Its unique combination of format and design, an easy-to-dispense concept, and minimization of material usage makes it a real standout in consumer food packaging.

Combining the two. According to Mintel, there is still a lack of standardized definitions for smart, active, intelligent, and even mobile-enabled packaging. However, mobile-enabled packaging is making clear and measurable connections with consumers, whilst active packaging technologies promise novel product benefits.

Smart and intelligent packaging use an electronic or mechanical trigger and typically presents and audible or visual signal that captures the consumers attention, indicating a consumer’s action and reaction. This presents an opportunity for engagement and offers a conversation between people, brands, and objects, enhancing consumers’ experience with products.

Active packaging usually means having active functions beyond the inert passive containment and protection of the product. For example, the insignia change label delivers an added layer of consumer purchasing or use confidence, in that the label can prevent a purchase or warn against consumption of a spoiled product.

Once the consumer opens the package, the label is activated and the circle in the middle will change color depending on how much longer shelf life it has. Another great example of active packaging is smart medication packaging systems, where the consumer is notified via smart device when medication has been taken. This not only responds to consumer’s need to engage with the brand, but also addresses the need for ease of use and safety.

While solutions-based packaging favors functionality over fun, don’t forget that we all like to be entertained. The intersection of functionality and such attributes as smart and active packaging can be the sweet spot for bridging the innovation gap.

This year, think to the future. Will packaging soon become another touchscreen in our lives — with similar capabilities of a smartphone or tablet? With access to additional product information, suggested products, and ability to reorder without stepping foot in-store? Maybe not in 2017, but this may be where the future of packaging is heading.

To see what other trends 2017 holds for the packaging industry, visit Mintel’s 2017 Global Packaging Trends Report