Packaging is everywhere and is fueled by a relentlessly increasing population and globally escalating consumption patterns. In fact, Packaging strikes the very first pact between a brand owner and the customer. Over the years the role of packaging has evolved much beyond just containing and preserving the product.
Before I discuss the specific trends let’s take a quick glimpse at the Industry both domestically(India region) as well as globally. While the Global Flexible Packaging Industry is pegged at around USD 200 Billion and growing anywhere between 4.5-5.5% annually, the Industry in India which is largely fragmented in the unorganized sector is growing at around 20% per annum.
With continuous development and innovation taking place, these certainly are stirring times for the packaging industry. Following trends will govern the global flexible packaging industry through 2025.
It’s all about the experience: I cannot emphasize upon this enough. Millennials will comprise three-quarters of the global workforce by 2025 and how they experience any respective product is the driving force behind what they demand from their purchasing options. Packaging will have to serve as an extension of the overall product experience as it cannot be separated from the overall product experience. Any business no matter what the size, from a start-up to an established enterprise, B2B or B2C that does not keep in mind the needs, wants and desires of the millennial generation will end up executing a flawed strategy, which will set up them for either failure or a painfully long learning curve. It is essential to note that 70% of millennials have the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO).
Story Telling Ability / Connection with Customers’ Lifestyle: Every product has a story and how beautifully that story is told in whatever way a Brand or Product can communicate with its customers is the disruptive element that all brands aim for. Packaging is the most direct and relevant form of reaching new levels of differentiation in your product category. To be able to materialize the first sale the packaging should be able to establish a connection that is of value to the customer by embodying character and personality traits that the customer can relate with directly.
Higher Barrier and Protective Properties: One of the key properties that packaging has to achieve an inescapable destiny is providing a superior barrier. By the term “barrier” I mean the ability to protect the product packed inside from any kind of external visible (logistics or transit) or invisible (moisture and oxygen) damage. Customer's patience level for products being dysfunctional at any stage of its lifecycle is close to zero. The basic and most primitive role of packaging is to protect the product and this shall always be the priority. The trend will clearly move towards monolayer (single layer) packaging that offers immense ease of recyclability. Further coated / corona treated films that enhance the surface properties of packaging films while also impacting barrier will also be a trend to be closely observed. Transparent barrier films with very high oxygen and moisture permeability that can replace Aluminum Foil are already seeing an uptrend and are likely to proliferate further.
With the advent of E-commerce, and online retail becoming an essential part of people’s life, protective packaging that can withstand logistic shocks during transit and storage is a significant source of growth.
Brand Differentiation and Product Differentiation: Today’s customer has an essential question in mind and that question is - “What can this brand do for me that no other brand can?” The answer to this question will decide whether the customer will purchase a product or not. How straightforward a way in which a brand can make this connection will decide the success of the product!
Go Green at the right value: Going Green is no longer a trend but an actual behavioral trait displayed by 30% of consumers who decide to purchase anything in the modern retail environment.
The well-traveled and well-read GEN NEXT is demanding sustainable and green products but they do not want to pay anaddedfee for it. They want it to be a part of the value package that the brand offers. If the value is correctly communicated to the customer then the importance of the actual price or increment actually diminishes.
In the times to come, more and more people would like to feel inclusive about the fact that their purchasing decisions are making a positive impact on the environment and ecological sustainability.
The trends that I have outlined in this article stem fromdeep research and personal experiential learning. I do hope this would serve as food for thought for the packaging fraternity to strategize and prepare as it braces up to take on the larger challenges of GEN-NEXT.
The article has been penned down by Anantshree Chaturvedi, Vice Chairman & CEO, Flex Films International (Global Film Manufacturing Arm of Uflex Limited)