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October 1, 2019updated 31 Jan 2020 9:42am

Packaging trends 2020: What does the industry predict for next year?

Every year industry sectors worldwide gear up to predict the next big trends to govern the coming year. Packaging Gateway speaks to companies working in the packaging sector to forecast some of the top packaging trends for 2020.

By Deborah Williams

1) Corrugated packaging

E-commerce packaging has become more important within the packaging industry as online shopping grows rapidly. Rigid packaging, such as corrugated packaging will dominate the sector with its stable structure and sustainable qualities.

Corrugated packaging provider DS Smith head of marketing and innovation Teresa Del Re said: “As we enter 2020 we expect to see real changes across the packaging spectrum, whether for e-commerce, FMCG or point of sale materials. The focus on sustainability and plastic replacement is increasingly at the forefront of packaging strategy for leading brands.

“Replacing single-use plastic with widely recycled material – such as corrugated – will go a long way to enabling the UK to meet its recycling targets and reduce the amount of waste produced.

“In addition, innovations such as reusable printed sleeves that sit over multiple-use corrugated boxes will [trend] and help ensure that brands can meet consumer demands for sustainable and more environmentally friendly packaging solutions.”

The luxury packaging market will also continue to further tap into the e-commerce market.


 2) Minimalism

Aesthetics will always be important to the packaging sector, and for 2020 packaging design will continue to be minimalist with decorate features. And digital print will also become more popular for luxury packaging.

Lifestyle Packaging  global head of marketing Rich Quelch said:“Packaging aesthetics will play an increasingly important role in catching the consumer’s eye in 2020. Even more so for the ‘Instagram generation’ – digital natives who are used to seeing aesthetically perfect images from their friends, influencers and brands alike.

“More brands will be investing in updating their primary packaging – glass and plastic bottles, caps and closures – with decorative techniques, such as etching, metallisation, hot stamping, screen printing and anodising, helping to translate brand identity directly onto the product.”

Mad Beauty head of new product development Lisa Dower said: “Clean packaging [and] simplistic designs [will be a trend for 2020]. Focusing on product ingredients, this trend ties in with the sustainability trend, as consumers believe less complex packaging is more environmentally friendly than over-engineered packaging.”


3) 100% recyclable materials

Sustainability has been a major trend this year and next year will be no different. One of the main aspects this trend will focus on will be companies making packaging from 100% recyclable materials. This has recently been exemplified in Coca-Cola’s marketing campaign to encourage consumers to recycle its bottles. Launched this month, the campaign states that Smartwater will be its first brand to come in bottles made from 100% recycled plastic.

COLOURFORM marketing manager Hannah March said: “Packaging is no longer ‘just a box’ and change is coming thick and fast. As consumer concern about plastic grows and new technologies change what is possible, businesses need to start thinking outside of the box – literally.

“It is without question that the demand for recyclable materials in packaging and materials that are actually recycled will grow and become higher than ever in 2020. Natural materials may soon replace common plastics and help brands strengthen their environmentally-friendly credentials.

“We can take a used coffee cup or use virgin fibre from renewable sources and transform it into beautiful packaging that really challenges plastic. With this innovation, brands such as those in the drinks industry have the capability to marry the need for responsible packaging with the desire for a premium experience.”


 4) Smart packaging

Smart packaging will trend in 2020, with augmented reality (AR), cloud labelling, anti-counterfeiting packs and track-and-trace tech set to grow.

Zappar senior marketing manager David Mather said: “2020 is going to be a big year for AR-enabled and connected packaging, as we are increasingly seeing consumers holding businesses to a higher standard of environmental consciousness.

“AR-enabled packaging, with its infinite scalability, has the ability to educate customers on environmental impact and allow businesses to encourage an eco-friendly approach while maintaining brand impact and user engagement. Grab a smartphone and [you can] turn packaging into a digital discovery channel by increasing transparency about product provenance and ingredients, creating meaningful moments of assistance, while driving purchase intent, loyalty and repeat sales.

“Connected packaging and AR are being used for immersive storytelling both to surprise and delight users, but to also, crucially, inform and instruct when it comes to imparting information about a brand’s purpose, provenance and sustainability.

“AR packaging is a savvy move for businesses, particularly with the introduction of 5G in 2020, making the speed and power of devices, and the use of the camera and AR, greater.”

NiceLabel VP Ken Moir said: “In 2020, we expect the next wave of digital transformation, taking labelling to the cloud. Companies of all sizes can benefit from the productivity gains that the cloud delivers.

“No massive budgets are required, nor huge IT teams. In the past, it was enterprises with big pockets and skilled IT teams that deployed label management systems. Now, with the digitising of processes and the advent of cloud and software-as-a-service offerings, there are fewer barriers to entry for smaller organisations as less hardware and investment are needed.”


5) Edible packaging

Edible packaging has slowly gained traction over the past few years and for 2020 it is expected to continue to develop further with new innovations.

Direct Packaging Solutions representative Tom Simpkins said: “Here in Manchester, we’ve seen businesses, both large and small, embracing much more eco-friendly, minimalist packaging; especially when it comes to how food is served. We believe that the next big thing is going to be packaging that focuses on being biodegradable; even edible.

“After seeing success with both social media campaigns and the likes of Kickstarter projects, we believe that the rising tide of edible packaging is inevitable. Look at the huge partnership between Bacardi and Sorbos; they created edible straws to encourage cocktail making, whereas across the world are exciting projects like Bakeys edible cutlery and even Bruxel and Evoware’s edible waffle packaging.

“It’s a brave new approach to packaging, one that tackles the ever-growing problem of plastic pollution and increasing demand for recyclable packaging.”

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