The events that have transpired in 2020 are continuing to have a domino effect in 2021. There isn’t a single industry that has remained unscathed by the nature and magnitude of these changes. The changes in the approach towards packaging is also indicative of the times that we have come to live in. In 2021, the packaging industry is set to be worth $1 trillion, as per estimates.
Today, being that we live in transient times, packaging has become an even more critical part of the products lifecycle and there is a strong emphasis on sustainable packaging solutions. The advent of various technologies and their rapid adoption has also influenced packaging design.
Image Source: MarketsandMarkets
Based on insights, let’s take a closer look at the key trends driving packaging design.
Focus on Recyclability
The objective of packaging design today is packaging that is completely recyclable while maintain specific attributes related to cost and performance. The more the number of recyclable materials used, the less the packaging industry’s environmental footprint. Moreover, for any industry, the approach towards packaging design needs to recyclable too close the waste loop. This mandates a clean design with the right labels. In certain cases, customers or end users would have to be requested to use the right avenues to recycle product and packaging waste. An indirect consequence of sustainable packaging design is that it can increase an organization’s thought leadership in the industry. There are many brands like Head & Shoulders, P&G, and HUL that deploy recyclable packaging solutions today. Their design approach helps them stand out and sends a clear message to consumers and the industry alike about sustainability.
Apart from sustainable practices, technical innovation too is pertinent owing to the times that we live in. Packaging that is augmented reality (AR) enabled is a cost effective and compelling way to tell a story without resorting to a drastic physical change. Over time, AR enabled packaging shall pave the way for brands to update their designs in a cost-effective way, without resorting to physical change. It also becomes an interesting way for consumers to interact with their products. It’s just augmented reality, packaging design is also evolving to become more connected. For instance, the smart containers of tomorrow shall send an alert when your milk tetra-pack is almost empty. Sensors for temperature and the duration of time transpired are already being used today. There are international brands like TONIC CBD and Italian olive oil brand NFC that deploy smart packaging solutions. Today quick response and QR codes are already being used by many brands.
The pandemic has fuelled the growth of E-commerce packaging. Changing demographics, social distancing, and access to the internet, and technological advances have contributed to the growth of E-commerce packaging. As per H.B. Fuller, corrugated will remain the top material choice for E-commerce packaging with an increase in alternative materials used for packaging solutions in 2021, with a heightened awareness for environmental protection: Flexible packaging, padded mailers, and paper mailers. These alternative materials shall continue to gain traction in the market going ahead. As consumer demands from E-commerce packaging increases, flexible packaging looks like a strong contender as it offers better durability and protection to prevent spills, resist breakage, and keep multiple products together.
Future of packaging design
Brands and retailers will have to stay focussed on evolving consumer needs in an ever-changing products and services landscape, with a strong emphasis on E-commerce. Ostensibly, the E-commerce packaging market will continue to exhibit strong growth in the near future. Innovations in sustainable packaging technology shall continue to impel the landscape for packaging materials.