Trend four: Future of packaging
December 12, 2012
Single-servings and on-the-go packaging
Philip: As our culture becomes more and more
mobile, packaging trends need to stay ahead of our lifestyle
changes. I heard recently that 20 percent of meals in the United
States are eaten in the car, so packaging structures are going to
need to take advantage of that and be mobile, easy to handle in the
car, and in portions for being on the go. A great example of that
is Oscar Mayer’s Lunchables.
There's also been a huge explosion of snack bars, which are the
ultimate portable food that you just throw in your pocket or your
handbag. Just about everyone is doing a snack bar now from
Kellogg’s to high-end bars from Kind, Nature Valley, Be Natural,
etc. That aisle in the grocery store used to be only a foot or so
and now it’s probably nine or 12 feet long. The snack bar category
has been exploding.
There are also a lot more single and smaller households in the
United States. Twenty-seven percent of households in this country
are single-person households and packaging must address
single-serving as well as easy-to-prepare meals for a person living
Anne: A great example of that would be Hormel
Compleats, which is a new kind of food we're seeing. The new
evolution of the old TV dinner is a shelf-stable package that
doesn't need to be frozen. You can take it anywhere. You can keep
it in your bag all day at work or you can take it with you on the
go and just microwave it for a couple of minutes; it's even quicker
than a frozen meal.
Philip: Also meals like Ready Pac salads. Or
Safeway Signature Cafe chef-prepared meals, which are prepared by a
chef in the Safeway store and you take them home and reheat them,
but they’re fresh meals and not shelf-stable. We’re also seeing a
lot of single-size items being developed; single-serving sizes have
been common in developing countries for a while, and now we’re
seeing them for sale more in other countries. Because of the
recession people don’t have as much to spend and they want to
control the portions of what they’re using, whether it’s single
servings of toothpaste or Tide Pods.
Anne: Right. With Tide Pods you're not doing an
extensive pour of liquid; you’re just using one single amount for
your load of laundry. Additionally, the packages are greener
because they’re smaller, more condensed. And they’re not using
resin. I think everyone is freaked-out about plastic bottles; I
think that's definitely another trend that is happening.
Philip: We’re seeing also a lot of ergonomic
structures. A great example of that is this roll-up water bottle:
collapsible water bottles that are saving volume in terms of
shipping; definitely more green, definitely addressing the mobile
Anne: The second trend is about engaging
consumers with your packaging in-store. With the advent of digital
and online purchasing, I think people are just used to getting
things in the mail, and the package is a secondary consideration.
But when people are actually shopping in the store I think they
want something that is more interesting and engaging.
There are sensory products like Crest toothpaste; it has a
scratch-and-sniff to show you the varieties of flavors available.
Downy Unstopables has a cool feature where they have little holes
punctured in the lid and you can squeeze the package and it
releases the scent; Downy Unstopables is a new product that is all
about scent—the packaging helps consumers engage with that and
understand what Downy is trying to communicate.
Another sensory trend is tactility. There are a lot of printers
doing new techniques with raised varnishes and sparkle varnishes
and different elements that can provide a tactile experience when
you interact with the package. A good example is Skyy vodka's
holiday package for this year, limited edition. It has velvet
flocking on the outside of it.
Unique packaging and personalization
Philip: Another trend we’re seeing is a new
level of originality and personalization. Absolut vodka actually
just did the first package where they had to completely retool
their production line so they could make every bottle absolutely
unique. The line was called Absolut Unique, and every bottle is
completely different—a different abstract painting on every
We're also seeing in packaging the ability to personalize your
experience with the product. MiO is a great example of that—you can
add as little or as much as you like to make your beverage exactly
what you want it to be.
Anne: Or you can combine it together or mix and
match and do crazy flavors made of multiple versions. I think this
is a great trend in itself. This is a new product, it’s a new
category, and now it’s being duplicated, but MiO really originated
the concept of the liquid water enhancer. It's portable, and it's
really taken off.
Anne: The next continuing trend is green
packaging. I think consumers are expecting green packaging more and
more from the products that they’re buying, and they want to know
about recycling and recycled quantity in the package. I think that
Method has got this new dish-and-hand product whose bottle is
actually made out of reclaimed plastic from the oceans; that's a
really unique thing, and consumers find that engaging.
We talked about stand-up, resealable pouches—the Tide Pod, for
example. Capri Sun is now in a stand-up pouch. These are just more
ecologically sound from a shipping standpoint. When they’re
shipping the empty packages they take up a lot less space.
Additionally, most of them are recyclable. I think consumers are
responding to that; more and more products are in those
Anne: The next trend is bioresins. Nature
Fusion from Pantene is using 30 percent bioresin in their bottles.
The bioresin war was started between Coke and Pepsi. Coke was first
out with plant bottles, but Pepsi was the first to come out with a
100 percent bioresin bottle. They are looking to get to a bioresin
that is made more with waste materials from food processing so
there won't be any farming or agricultural implications of growing
the material to make the bottles. Additionally, I have heard that
they're trying to make bottles out of chicken feathers!
What are the implications of these trends for brands?
Philip: Just to review, one of the main
implications is we want to make sure brands stay abreast of
demographic and macro social evolutions in culture, so they can
address those changes both in their packaging and their products.
Another is, as we go more and more digital in our lives, to make
sure we are not only capitalizing on the visual and auditory
aspects of branding, but also in terms of smell, taste, and
touch—those things that can happen at the first moment of truth on
Anne: Staying with the theme of
personalization, make sure that you're in tune with your consumers,
react to feedback from consumers, and give them what they're really
looking for. Then look at the new normal, at economic realities
like smaller households, portable sizes, and portable products so
people can eat on the go. And be nimble in your innovation,
especially when it applies to green products, new materials, and
new structures for your packaging.