Packaging Industry Trends

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On a global scale, the packaging industry is an enormous economic generator. Statistics from the well-recognized Smithers Pica organization indicate the world packaging industry’s market value will reach $1 trillion by 2020. That’s up from $839 billion in 2015. Consumer trends and industry trends for packaging drive this gigantic growth rate. To understand this phenomenon and appreciate where it’s heading, it’s necessary to examine the top packaging industry trends for 2019.

Packaging is an all-encompassing industry term for the technology and design work going into protecting or enclosing every sort of product destined for storage, shipping and sale. Packaging also takes in the product manufacturer’s marketing efforts. For leading manufacturers, the way they package their products signifies their brand. They view packaging as an essential part of their business model. That’s next to producing an excellent product, of course.

Every industry has megatrends. That means overall changes in the marketplace that affect manufacturers’ product placement and presentation. At the forefront of today’s market change from brick-and-mortar stores to e-commerce is a definite swing in how every type of product is getting packaged, labeled and offered for sale. Here are the top packaging trends for 2019.

Digital Printing

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In 2019, we have settled into the digital world. By digital, that means computer generation is the principal mechanism behind designing physical product packaging and creating the images or graphics governing their appearance. It’s fair to say digital printing influences every part of today’s packaging, and shows no signs of stopping.

Digital printing allows packagers far more latitude in personalization and customizing options than mechanical processes like typesetting did. Most packaging companies switched from analog to digital within the past decade. However, it takes time to retool a factory completely. In 2019, there are only a handful of companies not getting on the digital train and making that progressive investment.

Last year was a tipping point for the packaging industry. Narrow-web digital presses exceeded the standard flexo presses for the first time. 2018 was the first year digital presses are the packaging industry’s leading choice. A marketing research study by LPC, Inc. into the label-making segment found digital presses grew by 11.9 percent in 2017, while conventional presses declined by 8 to 9 percent. That’s proof of a major trend change in the packaging industry.

Personalized Packaging

Digital printing makes it far easier to customize packaging and add personalization to products. This trend has been building for a few years, and it has a major industry impact in 2019. Many of the top product brands have explored personalized packaging and found a significant return on this innovative marketing investment.

There’s no one-size-fits-all in personalized packaging. In fact, that’s the core philosophy behind this trend. Personalization allows a company to promote their name and brand in a forceful way that stands out from competitors. Here are three successful examples of the personalized packaging trend.

  • -Coca-Cola printing people’s names on their soft drink containers
  • -Frito-Lay printing faces on their potato chip packages
  • -Bud Light printing football teams on their beer cans

The personalized packaging trend is successful, as it allows individuals to personally identify with a brand’s product. Seeing their first name on a Coke can instantly attracts a person to the product. It’s hard to resist something shouting their name. Facial recognition on a Frito-Lay bag makes a consumer connect with the brand and reach for a helping. Seeing their favorite NFL team like the Saints or the Pats on a Bud Light certainly sells more beer to a diehard football fan.

Personalized packaging also takes in a brand’s story. Smart marketers know people relate to stories as much as they do to brand names. When a company presents its package in a story-like way that connects to consumers on an individual level, the product becomes irresistible. Personalization is a top 2019 packaging trend, and it’s sure to stay around for a while.

Transparency and Clean Labels

Presenting product information in a clear and transparent way is another strong packaging industry trend for 2019. This trend is all about trust and honesty. In today’s world where consumers have so much access to information, they can better educate themselves about product choices. At the top of smart consumers’ interest list are what their product choices contain and the packaging methods they use.

“Transparency” refers to manufacturers being completely open and honest about what the products contain. “Clean” means products are safe and don’t contain harmful ingredients. When a manufacturer packages their product in a way that makes content information clear, concise and open, it promotes trust in the company’s brand name.

Clean and transparent labeling strongly affects the packaging industry’s food sector. Reports from a new Mintel study into packaging transparency and clean foods found more than 50 percent of U.S. consumers have an interest in scanning food packages with their smartphones to find out exactly what they contain. Part of the clean and transparent trend in 2019 is the rise of the Smart Label™. The label code immediately connects consumers to a landing page with transparent information about how clean this choice may be.

Private Labels and Store Brands Dominating

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Individual store brands and private labels are an interesting 2019 trend for the packaging industry. This move finds many stores offering product lines with a specific brand name unique to that store. It creates in-house brand awareness and local customer loyalty, as opposed to generic brands offered by every competitor.

Research by IRI and Wisner Marketing indicates private store brands and their recognizably unique labels have exceeded national brands in consumer popularity. This information reports two-thirds of polled consumers preferred purchasing private brands. Millennials led the private brand loyalty group, followed by lower-income earners.

The store brand and private labeling trend started a few years ago. In 2019, it’s a growing move, and some of the biggest American companies lead the trend. Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods hinged on in-store branding and private labeling. As Lidl’s enters the U.S. market, consumers can expect to see their personal brand on the packaging. Trader Joe’s and Aldi are two more examples of the current trend toward store brand labels on packages.

Bold Colors and Effects

The move toward bold colors and effects on packaging has been expanding for some time. In 2019, it’s a definite trend. Many companies recognize how well strong colors and dramatic effects stand out. They also see how well this trend results in increased sales volume.

There is no doubt about how well humans respond to bold colors and unique effects. Information from the Pantone Color Institute states people experience 80 percent of their awareness from sight. Strong colors like neon green and bright yellow quickly attract a person’s attention. So do effects like shining metallic sheens and reflective surfaces.

Leading marketers design packaging to grab hold of a consumer’s notice and retain the memory. A recent 2019 trend report by Crowdspring found people make subconscious decisions about buying products within the first minute and a half after observing it. According to Crowdspring’s report, 85 percent of people make that judgment based on the packaging color.

Growth in Flexible Packaging

Flexible packaging is a trend that’s gaining great popularity, and there’s a good reason for it. Technological advancement in flexible packaging materials makes them suitable to far more consumer products today that were once restricted to rigid and hard materials.

According to the Flexible Packaging Association, the United States accounts for $135 billion in the world’s entire packaging industry. Out of all the packaging material options, flexible packaging materials are the second-largest form in existence. Flexible packaging takes in all non-rigid materials. The most popular flexible packages are wraps, bags, pouches and envelopes.

Flexible packaging has many advantages over rigid packages. They’re easier to store, more convenient to open and highly practical to close or reseal. Products in flexible packaging have attractive shelf appeal, use less material and have better shipping characteristics, which is an essential point in e-commerce.

Part of the reason flexible packaging is such a prominent 2019 trend is material advancement. For years, most flexible packaging materials were polyvinyl chloride. This plastic wouldn’t break down or decompose, which made it environmentally hostile. Today, most flexible packaging uses materials made of polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalate or polypropylene. These high-tech plastics are durable when in use but deteriorate when discarded.

Recycled Packaging Products in Use

The recycled packaging trend has never been so popular. The movement started a generation ago with the 3-R principle: reduce, reuse and recycle. Today, the 3-R model creates a circular economy where it’s a mainstay for how proper product packaging performs. Recycling has now become firmly embedded in the American psyche.

Recycled packaging is part of the worldwide sustainability movement. For years, the vast majority of packaging waste found its way to landfills. Worse yet is the mass of non-perishable plastics currently floating in the oceans. That mess is no longer acceptable, and most consumers now do their part to prevent it. They’re choosing recyclable product packaging instead.

Technology is also improving the packaging material industry. Advancements in plastic and paper chemistry now allow recycling to be easier and more convenient than ever. Federal, state and local authorities also promote and encourage packaging recycle programs. But the main thing driving the 2019 trend toward recycled packaging products is consumer choice. People avoid purchasing anything packaged in non-recyclable materials.

Vintage Packaging

“What’s old is new again” rings true in vintage packaging. Nostalgia has a tremendous effect on people, whether they’re young or old. For 2019, many companies are tapping into the vintage packaging trend and promoting products to reflect yesteryear’s values.

According to 99 Designs, which is a leading marketing force, throwback designs give consumers a piece of their past. Vintage packaging provides an essential part of American culture and memories. These classic colors, shapes and themes reflect an earlier era of simplicity and placidness. It’s a direction many modern people wish they could turn to, and packaging helps them achieve that experience.

There are two reasons the vintage packaging trend is popular. First, these old designs reflect a timeless quality that remained intact through the years. Second, vintage designs tell a story of tradition and passion. Humans are hardwired for story, and people listen to vintage packaging.

Minimalist Packaging of Products

“Less is more” is an adage that’s true in many cases. It’s certainly true in 2019 packaging industry trends. Minimalist packaging around products is popular for trendy consumers who reject the idea that products must have excessive wrapping and protection around them.

Minimalist packaging works well because it’s simple. Consumers appreciate simplicity and economy, which is one reason brown paper wrappings are so popular. It’s a pushback to unnecessary excessiveness.

The minimalist trend also affects product labels. People resist information overload. Labels with fine print and too much detail are a turnoff. Packages with simple labels that tell consumers what the product is and what’s in it for them are today’s trendy move. Companies that ignore the minimalist message do so at their marketing peril.

Label Printing Over Stick-On Shipping Labels

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Stick-on shipping labels were once the norm in product packaging. Shipping labels were the last things to go on a packaged product before it went out the door. Back in the old days, this made sense, because most packages were complete before the shipper knew their destination.

Stick-on labels aren’t the 2019 trend for shipping labels. Now, many sellers package their products on demand, after they already know their recipient. It’s especially true in e-commerce and online shopping, where buyers place orders before companies fill them.

Digital printing has virtually replaced stick-on shipping labels in many businesses. Label printing directly on packaging removes one step in the distribution process. Each step costs money. Digital label printing lowers packaging and shipping charges, and sellers can then pass on those savings to the consumer.

Packaging for E-Commerce Purchases

E-commerce isn’t a 2019 trend. It’s here to stay, and will only grow as consumers get comfortable with online buying. But specialized packaging specifically for e-commerce is trending in 2019. Amazon is the giant of e-commerce, and there are some valid lessons to learn from Amazon’s e-commerce packaging.

Amazon is a pack-to-order company. Once they receive an order, workers pick and process the items. Amazon has automated every step of their process, including the physical packaging and digital printing. That includes some individual items and a multiple order in one shipping box.

Amazon might be big, but it’s not the only e-commerce player. Many companies find the trend to e-commerce purchasing effective and profitable. E-commerce packaging still reflects the same basic principles as real-time shopping. Products have to be professionally presented, protected and please consumer expectations.

Smaller and Greener Packaging

The green movement has only gained momentum in 2019. Every company that deals with packaged goods can’t ignore the green wave. It’s all about responsibility through sustainable goods and environmentally friendly products. The green scene also involves smaller packaging.

Reduce, reuse and recycle is part of the green commitment to being responsible in the world. Today’s consumers are far too aware of their environmental footprint. More people than ever are joining the ecological fight and doing their part to protect their share of the world. The packaging industry must recognize and respect consumers’ desire to maintain a smaller carbon footprint. They can do that by making smaller and greener packages.

York Saw & Knife Recognizes the 2019 Packaging Industry Trends

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York Saw & Knife is a cutting-edge supplier to America’s packaging industry. That’s not a pun or play on words. Since 1906, York Saw & Knife of York, Penn., has supplied top-quality and precision cutting tools to packaging companies across the nation and around the world.

Every company in the packaging industry requires precision cutting equipment. York Saw & Knife manufactures and distributes custom industrial machine knives for every conceivable application in the packaging world. Our knife blades for packaging include:

York Saw & Knife supplies American-made products. We offer quick lead times, free quotes, zero minimum for orders and assistance from an expert in-house team. For more information on how York Saw & Knife helps the packaging industry, call us today at 800-233-1969. Our online contact form is always available.