Mintel 2019 Packaging Trends Put the Focus Back on Recyclability
Mintel has recently released its 2019 Global Packaging Trends report in which the market research firm outlines the challenges and opportunities expected to have an impact on manufacturers, companies, brands, and retailers in packaging markets around the world, over the coming months and years.
According to the research conducted by Mintel, connected packaging is seeing renewed interest, driven by growth in ownership of connected devices worldwide and advancement in technologies that can link packaging to the online world. This sort of packaging is said to create a marketing opportunity, bringing the engagement and interaction of the online world to the shopper moment, thus influencing and driving purchase. In the home, these connections can have the effect of increasing brand engagement, increasing product use and adding an experiential element to product interactions.
Connected packaging can integrate digital technologies such as QR codes (and other digital markers, NFC or augmented reality (AR). For example, Malibu included NFC tags on select bottles to allow consumers to access promotional content such as drink recipes, a bar locator and an opportunity to win prizes.
Benefits for brands: Connected packaging can allow brands to differentiate themselves from its competitors on the store shelves. What’s more, implementing this type of packaging can help extend the potential for communicating product attributes, as well as create a direct connection to shoppers handling the product. Mintel also notes that connected packaging can also offer significant data collection benefits as customers are willing to share their information when accessing online content.
Closing the Loop
While consumers have been recycling some packaging for years, they are now demanding the ability to recycle more. What’s more, they also want to understand how recycling really works.
While brands have opportunities to meet consumer demands for more recyclable packaging, issues such as low availability of high-quality recycled plastic and concerns over food safety are hampering the use of recycled material in food and drink. Even so, Mintel states that even if eco-responsible packaging can be complex to engineer, the way in which that responsibility is communicated to consumers on-pack must be simple to understand.
Consumers are also campaigning for change. For example, the #PacketInWalkers campaign launched in 2018 called on snack brand Walkers to address plastic waste and encourage consumers to use the brand’s freepost address to send their empty chips packs. This was done to raise awareness about the brand’s packaging which is likely destined to spend years in landfills or worse, oceans.
Benefits for brands: Products that are more vocal about how easy they are to recycle should win the loyalty of consumers by presenting a more proactive and environmentally responsible image. Today, while some products show a simple breakdown of which parts of the packaging are recyclable, this is not universal.
A company that has worked towards this goal is Coca-Cola. Development of a new polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resin that can be extrusion blow-molded on shuttle machines allowed the firm’s 89oz Simply Orange’s bottle to switch materials from hard-to-recycle materials to the widely-accepted PET.
Reinventing the Box
Mintel’s analysis reveals that packaging and brand professionals agree the rapid development of e-commerce has had a greater impact on the business, technologies, supply chain, engineering and design of packaging globally.
Today, brand marketers have limitless opportunities to design the next generation of shelf presence, the “hero images” on retailers’ websites, and the “unboxing” experience when a product and package is delivered. E-commerce is also a great catalyst for new ideas in sustainable design.
Benefits for brands: Consumers prefer to buy groceries in-stores rather of online. However, specialists believe that the convenience of buying clothing, electronics and even beauty products online will eventually spill over into food and drink. That is why packaging that meets the demands of e-commerce shipping channels must be designed and commercialized now. Companies like Sealed Air are innovating in the category. The start-up has come up with the StealthWrap concept which was designed to help combat e-commerce theft by helping conceal what’s in the box of padded mailer. What’s more, StealthWrap eliminates the need for additional shipping cartons and materials.
Mintel notes that the momentum behind a plastic-free aisle in every supermarket is growing. So brands need to consider making a move to this type of packaging, in order to gain a place on the shelf.
As the scale of marine litter grows, there is now a growing consensus around the need for different attitudes to the material. New opportunities such as plastic-free aisles, package-free stores and alternative pack materials allow customers to actively make choices about the plastic that is put out in the world.
Benefits for brands: Brands and retailers need to be aware of the opportunity to remove plastic packaging where this can be done without storage or usage issues. However, since even plastic-free packaging can often include plant-based plastics, brands need to address consumer confusion and leverage this to educate about “good” plastic that preserve products, offers convenience and can be recycled. Given the consumer exhaustion with excess plastic packaging, brands that move away to plastic-free stand to greatly benefit.
The UK retailer Iceland has pledged to remove plastic packaging from its own-label products by 2023. The chain already made some changes last year, launching two new meal ranges in paper-based trays rather than the conventional black plastic. According to data from the retailer, 80% of its consumers say they would support a supermarket that decided to go plastic-free.