Packaging Trends Moving Forward in 2013

Packaging Trends Moving Forward in 2013

Since well before the beginning of the current year, a number of people, organizations and companies have attempted to predict the trends that would carry through the packaging industry for 2013.  Though one could find predictions on literally dozens of different topics, there were a few that seemed to create a common thread through all the different articles, whether written from the consumer, manufacturer or packager point of view.


We have discussed sustainability at length in other articles and almost everyone in the packaging industry probably has at least some idea of what this vague term means.  In general, sustainable packaging takes into account the entire life cycle of the packaging process - from producing bottles and caps to packaging using liquid fillers, capping machines and other equipment to shipping product and recycling the package and product itself.  Truly sustainable packaging lowers the negative impact the entire process has on natural resources and the environment in general.


Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many other social media sites have become a necessary component of advertising for many companies.  Eventually, packagers came to realize that many social media sites can be worked into the packaging of a product.  Whether it is promoting the product, offering codes on the product or some other tie-in, it has become incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to find a packager, or any company in general, that does not utilize social media.  In addition to offering new and innovative ways to advertise and package, social media also brings the company closer to the consumer, allowing the buyers of a product to provide almost instant feedback, good or bad.


Intelligent packaging, in general, interacts with the customer, potential customer or the product in some manner.  Some packages will simply emit sound or light when someone moves close by.  Others will actually talk to a consumer when they open up, for example, a can.  Others take a more narrow view of intelligent packaging, separating it from interactive or active packaging.  Intelligent packaging can help with temperature control for certain food products, remind people when they forget a dose of their medication or recalculate the expiration date on products based on their environment.  Of course, intelligent packaging has to be balanced against the costs of the materials - labels, special bottles, cans or containers and in some cases electronics technology - and the cost of the machinery - custom conveyors, filling machines, capping machines and more - to package the products against the actual benefits of the intelligent packaging.  It appears, however, the companies and packagers are finding the benefit to outweigh the costs in many cases.


Social media, as noted above, brings the packager and the consumer closer together.  This has given companies the opportunity to quickly and easily gather opinions about a product or package.  While gather opinions is nothing new, the ease with which it can be done now is new.  Moving away from post-launch opinions and ideas, packagers can now get consumer input before they launch a new product or package by simply asking for it.  Bringing a customer into the planning process and letting them become a part of new products, packages and ideas theoretically fosters loyalty, helping companies not just acquire customers but retain them as well.

Each of these packaging trends seem to be alive and well as we reach the halfway point of 2013, and none really seem to show signs of slowing down.  Sustainability, many would agree, needs to move away from the term "trend" and be seen as a necessity in the packaging industry.  Social media is not likely to fade into the past anytime in the near future, and intelligent packaging seems to be only in its infancy.  Finally, getting consumer input has been a trend for quite some time in the packaging industry, the only change seems to be the ability of the companies to simply ask for it.  While others packaging trends will come and go, expect these four to remain through 2013 and into the foreseeable future.