The internet has raised the stakes by changing the way consumers shop, and most of the changes can potentially benefit the packaging industry. With the internet, consumers are even more focused on health and sustainability and can dig into that information online. They can scan barcodes or labels using their smartphone, or even search Google for more information. And without the internet, would CPG brand leaders know what consumers really want out without consumer reviews, comments and feedback on product packaging social media?

As the digitization of practically everything will continue to permeate the packaging industry, brand leaders focused on delivering high-quality packaging experiences need to continually look to shopper feedback and preferences to provide high-value to consumers while still growing business revenue. With so much change going on, I wanted to dig a little deeper into some of the top reports from this year to show fellow readers what consumers want from the packages they buy. Read on to see the top six reports compiled in 2018 and some of my key takeaways below:

1. 2018 Tetra Pak Index

According to the 2018 Tetra Pak Index, 72% of customers post images or comments on food and beverage products monthly. That number rises to 93% in China, a large market with a growing internet user base.  

These consumers are doing more than sharing their experiences: they’re sharing pictures. Tetra Pak finds that 49% consumer packaged goods (CPG) say e-commerce customers are including photos and commentary—both good and bad—about packaging online. CPG brand successes are more visible than ever, but so are failures.

2. The Power of Packaging: 2018 State of Industry Report

Consumers have responded to survey after survey saying that they want sustainable packaging. Now, according to The Power of Packaging: 2018 State of Industry Report by BRANDPackaging, brand leaders are listening.

The website surveyed its readers, who are professionals in the packaged goods industry, and found that 57% believe that sustainability and recyclability are the top packaging trends. These professionals are also looking at using less BPA, Styrofoam and fewer plastics.

One company responded that they’re even making their labels more recyclable so that their consumers don’t have to remove the label before recycling. For a customer base hungry for sustainability, these are smart moves.

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3. Packaging and the Digital Shopper: Meeting Expectations in Food & Beverage

Fewer than 1% of consumers say they’ve never bought a food or beverage product online, with 75% saying they’ll buy more snacks online in the next 18 months, according to “Packaging and the Digital Shopper: Meeting Expectations in Food & Beverage.”

The report, by Esko, Pantone, X-Rite and AVT, finds that these customers expect consistency: 47% say that they expect the product image to match what arrives at their home, with 26% of consumers saying that they returned a product that look different because they thought it looked wrong or counterfeit.

Companies must be consistent in their packaging, whether they sell the product online or in-store. There are few things more important than repeat business—a new customer who sends back what they believe to be a counterfeit item isn’t likely to become a repeat customer.

4. 2018 Industry Trend Report: Packaging

Consumers want to interact with companies and have the power to do it through smartphones, tablets and smart glasses. But not every package is up to technological snuff; Competitive Capabilities International (CCI) finds that this will soon change.

According to CCI’s 2018 Industry Trend Report: Packaging, smart label applications will increase 14% each year until 2020. This will allow companies to give consumers more detail and be transparent, but it will also allow a greater number of consumers to interact with a brand in the way they want to, not the way the brand finds most convenient.

5. The Global Trends Impacting the Market for Packaging Machinery 2018

Packaging lines will need to be more flexible and capable of producing new packages, as consumers have become more demanding for new products and package types.

The Global Trends Impacting the Market for Packaging Machinery 2018 by PMMI Business Intelligence finds that many trends are driving the need for quicker production of different package types, including growing consumer health consciousness, single-serve packaging, busy lifestyles, increased travel and a greater desire for new kinds of healthy foods. All of this, in turn, drives the demand for different kinds of packaging equipment and machinery.

PMMI’s report finds that labeling, decorating and coding machinery will grow at 3 percent per year through 2021 as packaging lines look to meet the demand of consumers.

6. 2018 Packaging Matters Report

According to WestRock’s 2018 Packaging Matters report, 75% of consumers say that their purchase decision is affected by how safe a package is. This means the product needs to be packaged in materials that prevent the product from leaking or breaking.

The report also finds that 79% of consumers’ value packaging that protects the product from tampering or contamination, 71% want materials that keep them and their families safe and 71% want packaging information and ingredients that are honest and transparent, including communicating potential dangers.

As always, honesty is the best policy. If you want to build trust with consumers and create packages that they want to buy, communicate ingredients and romance copy with transparency on the package.

Honesty, trust and innovation seem to be the principles connecting everything that customers desire in 2018. Customers trust brands that work toward sustainability and are honest and transparent on ingredient lists. And they love brands that are innovative in ease, style and technology. Customers want to love brand packaging; keep giving them good reasons.  Just as the internet has changed how customers search and purchase fast-moving consumer goods, the internet and digital technologies impact the process by which these goods reach the market. Brand leaders and their suppliers should continue to identify digital tools for packaging management that help increase speed-to-market and high quality packaging, as it becomes more apparent that these tools are needed to help with the packaging quality, consistency and frequency of packaging changes.

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