A CMO Council Strategic Interest Group

CMO Council Association For Print Technologies

Phil Bagdasarian

Co-founder, Packwire

6 Creative Packaging Trends For 2019

Today’s retail industry has been completely transformed, moving away from traditional storefronts to e-commerce transactions that promise fast and convenient services. This change has a significant impact on the way products are packaged and sold. In order to remain competitive and on-trend with the dramatically pliable marketplace, the packaging industry must adopt new print technologies and packaging solutions that will stand out in this crucial period of reinvention. 

Packaging strategies have shifted, reflecting the needs of current consumers who are increasingly more adventurous and focused on making purchases that reflect their core values. Millennials make up a large section of those consumers who demand brands that embrace relevant cultural trends, values and principals. It is therefore imperative that packaging provides a multi-sensory experience that satisfies both the customer experience and value-based branding. In the printing industry, this requirement has an impact on everything from packaging design to environmental responsibility. So, the question is this: How can one adapt and deliver packaging solutions to fulfill current consumer values?

The following top packaging industry trends for 2019 can help answer that question, providing key tips for satisfying all kinds of consumer expectations: 

DIGITAL PRINTING: Digital presses are replacing traditional print, and for the first time, have surpassed the use of standard flexo presses. Digital print provides greater flexibility and customization, allowing packaging suppliers to produce high quality material that doesn’t require printing plates. In the printing industry, this flexibility translates into shorter print runs that generate significant cost savings. Decreased run lengths not only allow suppliers to update content on a continuous basis but also helps them reduce inventory and storage costs. This type of work-in-progress product adapts easily to changing designs and shifting economic and demographic needs. On-demand print methods also top the list of exciting trends because of their capacity to reduce waste, thus solving the problem of redundant inventory.

PERSONALIZATION: Hand in hand with the variable capabilities offered by digital printing comes the ability to achieve high levels of customization and personalization; features that weren’t feasible with traditional typesetting. Thanks to digital technologies, altering artwork is a breeze, performed quickly with a few clicks of a mouse. Creating a personal connection with customers can also be achieved through variable system data that generates customized packaging. One such example is Coca-Cola, who created a great deal of excitement when it launched hundreds of versions of a can printed with common first names. As a result, these custom-printed cans became a must-have for consumers, creating an emotional connection and worldwide pop culture phenomena. This kind of personalization surprises and delights while evoking self-expression and exhibiting a product’s uniqueness. 

BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL: The packaging trends of 2019 are expected to be bolder, using minimalistic packaging with dazzling enhancements. Designs will be bright and vibrant with big, cheeky fonts and colors that pop, creating a dramatic effect that is simple yet screams for attention. Supersaturated colors are a big trend because of their ability to convey fearlessness and confidence – an exploit that traditional, drab packaging simply can’t achieve. Finishing enhancements are also hot on the list. Easy to use with today’s digital embellishing machines, finishes such as metallic sheens, reflective surfaces, soft-touching coating, or spot and flood varnishing can give packaging that extra zing and make any product look like premium quality. 

FLEXIBLE: Flexible packaging is the fastest growing trend in the market thanks to its convenience, low cost, functionality and sustainability. Flexible packaging, such as stand-up pouches, is extremely beneficial in the e-commerce trade because of its lightweight and durable features, which are cheaper to store and ship. Along with shipping and storage benefits, flexible options offer a long list of merits including the minimal use of raw materials in production and the ability to extend a product’s shelf life— a particularly useful feature in eliminating global food waste. It is because of these advantages that dynamic, flexible packaging options are taking center stage, quickly replacing rigid packing methods. 

SMALLER AND SUSTAINABLE: According to a 2015 EPA study, 37% of landfill is comprised of packaging containers. And while this fact is saddening, there is great hope. The sustainability movement is growing, giving rise to shifting consumer values that demand more responsible packaging materials. Manufacturers are taking note of this shift and are adjusting their packaging solutions to create less waste in both their manufacturing and shipping operations. As a result, innovative ideas are emerging, designed to offer a variety of responsible packaging options such as returnable and reusable packaging, recycled shipping pouches and wraps made from larger waste products, and incentives that encourage consumers to return packaging instead of throwing it away. 

UPCYCLING: In today’s climate, packaging must not only respect the 3Rs but also encompass frugality and reusability. In the past, biscuit tins, bottles and spice jars were reused in most households, but nowadays, most things land in the trash. But thankfully, our current “throw-away” society is progressing toward a trend that encourages thriftiness. Consumers are showing a greater interest in upcycling: the process of reusing an object without breaking down any of its materials. Fueled by popular websites such as Pinterest, the internet has become a great resource on how to convert packaging into second life products. Businesses are finding creative, reusable solutions that can convert many types of packaging into items such as ice buckets, plant pots, toiletry bags and lanterns, with some companies including printing reusability instructions on their product packaging and some going as far as shipping edible packaging. When it comes to this trend, there is no limit as to what a little ingenuity can accomplish. 

The year 2019 is going to be exciting one for the print industry and packaging designers. As the market reinvents itself, the number of imaginative and avant-garde solutions will swell, bringing a refreshing and progressive take on many of our traditional designs.