2020… good riddance to you! There is probably a good chance you understand that sentiment. Most peoples’ business and/or personal lives were affected to some degree by the tumultuous happenings of the last year. The packaging and label sector was no exception, and we in the business bid farewell to 2020 and warily raise the curtain on 2021. A traditional aspect of the advent of a new year is the determination of what trends will prevail over the next 365 days. So, we offer this glimpse at what we think will be six leading trends in packaging, labeling and the markets which utilize them. These trends are derived from observations we at AWT have made as well as those of our industry gurus, given credit* at the end of this post.
And away we go!
Tactile and Textured Elements: Let’s stay in touch!
People have a literal connection with things they touch. But there is also a subconscious emotional connection created when a person touches something, whether that is another person or a retail product. Marketers have long known this, and they go to great lengths to create visually appealing packaging to increase the odds that a consumer will physically interact with their package by touching it. More recently, consumers have experienced a new sensation when strolling the retail arena – packaging with ‘feeling.’ Marketers have added physical texture to packaging with specialized coatings like “soft-touch” coating on labels and roll print film to connect consumers more deeply to products through touch. It’s not a new technique, but it is one which is ready to break out as ink, coating and film formulations for rendering texture become more available.
Authenticity Labeling: Is this really you?
Most of us are aware of brand counterfeiting; the unauthorized use of a brand’s mark to falsely represent an inauthentic, inferior product. It is a big problem, particularly among high-end and legacy brands. Brands obviously have a stake in this battle, as counterfeiting can significantly impact sales and brand reputation. Consumers also want to make sure the product they are getting is authentic and genuine… the ‘real thing.’ As counterfeiters become both more prevalent and more sophisticated, 2021 will see an increase in measures brands can take to fight back. These include 2D barcodes; Holograms (think NFL gear and wearables); and other options for label or packaged-based authenticity confirmation. Tamper-evident labels can be an inexpensive method of providing authenticity and provide proof of a compromised package. Technology to aid counterfeiters is increasing, but thankfully, so is anti-counterfeiting technology.
Segmented Messaging: Making it personal.
The information revolution has made it possible for marketers to find consumers’ sweet spots, and to more easily create targeted messaging that has a better chance of making an impression. For better or worse, you as a consumer can probably be categorized or segmented in any number of ways based on internet browsing habits, responses to random surveys, and even social media likes and sharing history. This information is generally used to create more personalized ads which reach consumers via email or text, but packaging and labels are also carrying these personalized messages. A high-level example of this was Coca-Cola’s famous ‘Name Cans’ campaign a few years ago, linked here. The company used information readily available to find out the most common first names in various regional markets, and within target demographics like age group and other factors. They then produced printed cans and bottle labels with proportionate numbers of the top names and distributed them to the targeted regions. Expect more marketers to follow suit in 2021 and look for more labels and packaging aimed right at you.
Bolder Product Info: Show me what you got!
Our current national health emergency has changed consumer habits. Many people have taken the online route to shopping, even for groceries and other essentials. Those consumers going inside stores are spending less time browsing and are generally trying to get in and out as quickly as possible. Marketers are aware of this and are responding with bolder and more concise messaging on packaging. In a retail environment where the first brand noticed might win the race, labels and packaging are also sporting vivid colors and designs that say, “here’s what you’re looking for!” As the trend of shopping for utility vs. shopping for relaxation persists into 2021, so will the trend toward packaging that gets right to the point.
Sustainable Solutions: Trending now and into the foreseeable future.
Not so much a trend as a responsible way of operating, sustainable label and packaging constructions will continue to proliferate in 2021. What is trendy within sustainable packaging is the ‘less is more’ movement. Lighter packaging and labels use less raw materials to create and have residual benefits throughout their lifecycle. The continued development of thinner label and flexible packaging stocks will drive down the cost of these materials, eliminating a barrier to expanded adoption of lighter options. When these same constructions are also recyclable, or made from recycled content, there is an even greater positive impact on the environment. See how on our website.
On-pack Promotion: Encourage more brand interaction.
Package-based promotion will make a comeback in 2021. Brands are looking for ways to extend the time consumers interact with their products when many of them are avoiding retail brick and mortar in favor of online shopping. Labels and packaging will include future purchase incentives in the form of coupons. QR codes will be printed to lead consumers to websites, recipe suggestions and augmented reality experiences. Kid-friendly brands and products will include labels with fun stuff like temporary tattoos and stickers. In the new retail playing field, brands will be cultivating and rewarding loyalty to a greater degree than in recent years.
It’s a new year, and we’re excited to see what it brings. If you’re looking to leverage any of these trends to increase your brand’s visibility, give us a call and talk to one of our experts.