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Designed chiefly to protect the product within from interference and degradation, competition in the marketplace now means packaging’s core function has extended to being the primary conduit of unique branding. Establishing an instantly recognisable and reputed identity is one of the key drivers of sales, with over 80% of consumer attention drawn to packaging over price, it has an obvious influence on its evolution. Customers are becoming more attuned to what they want, and millennial influencers are driving the trend for things such as brand personalisation; take the recent Coca Cola find your name on a bottle campaign as an example.
Virtually enabled packaging has become an actuality; with greater consumer awareness of contents, ingredients and nutritional value, people expect to have all the information at their fingertips. NFC has become a realisation of this, enabling customers to access a plethora of content relevant data that couldn’t be confined to a label, using mobile technology via a single tap for compatibility. Beyond simply allowing customers a higher level of access to compositional data, it can be used as a tool to verify authenticity, access loyalty reward schemes and much, much more. It’s also a smart move from the manufacturer, as it’s extremely useful providing market insights and real time analytics into the demographic and preferences of the customers.
Extending the virtual aspect further, providing an amplified and virtual reality experience is an emerging trend; using technological advances allowing consumers to take selfies with personified products, and play merchandise related games is a sure-fire consumer engagement hit. The jury is out on the effectiveness beyond a PR gimmick, but in a generation where smartphones are constantly in hand, it’s likely to be a trend that sticks around and progresses beyond imagination in the future.
‘Packaging has become a multi-dimensional experience rather than protective necessity. Attractive packaging will remain crucial and AR could add another dimension to it, making the packaging a portal for consumers to access a labyrinth of digital content. From children’s gaming, to ‘behind the scenes’ access for more mature users, and beyond. Anything seems viable to digitally engage the consumer and sway the emotional part of their decision-making process to choose one brand over the other’ reflects Jerzy Owadowicz, General Manager Warehousing & Contract Packing.
A ubiquitous desire for reduction in non-recyclable materials, as well as more environmentally sustainable solutions is driving the increasing use of bioplastics and refillables, with profitability of the industry projected to exceed 40 billion in the next two years. Biodegradable options and easily identified recyclables are becoming the consumer choice as environmental awareness increases and sustainability is thrust into the mainstream; Planet Earth’s recent feature on the impacts of human activity on marine life, and the devastating images of beached plastics it conveyed sent shockwaves through the media. This has sparked a flurry of reactive change, with huge restaurant chains like Nandos withdrawing the use of plastic straws. It’s only a matter of moments until the packaging industry follows suit and ups the game further in its conservation efforts.
What does this mean for the Contract Packing industry? Increased levels of production are likely an economy of scale win, however with faster turnarounds expected from the instant gratification generation, investment in larger, more efficient machines is likely to be essential. The rethinking of materials considering eco-sustainability is critical. Bespoke customisation to accommodate the technological changes and adaptability of packaging around will become more prevalent, and automated solutions will follow as this becomes more mainstream. The future for Co-Pack is looking extremely diverse indeed.
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