Packaging trends for 2020
Will plastics and sustainability continue to dominate our headlines next year? And what else is on the horizon? Deborah Williams speaks to industry insiders about the packaging trends we can expect in 2020.
According to a study by Future Market Insights, the global QR code labels market is currently worth $996.8m and forecasted to expand at a CAGR of 8.7% from 2019-2027. This boom will be driven by innovative mobile technologies which make it easier for consumers to scan codes, and faster mobile internet speeds to power the richer content behind them. But while QR codes make a comeback, image recognition technology is fuelling rapid growth in brands offering augmented reality (AR) experiences.
E-commerce packaging has become more important as online shopping continues to grow rapidly. Rigid packaging such as corrugated cardboard will dominate the sector due to its stable structure and sustainable qualities.
Corrugated packaging provider DS Smith’s head of marketing and innovation Teresa Del Re says: “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 help ensure that brands can meet consumer demands for sustainable and more environmentally friendly packaging solutions.”
Corrugated packaging is set to grow with the popularity of online shopping.
Aesthetic appeal is, of course, always a key factor in packaging, and it will become ever more important in the age of Instagram and unboxing. Experts expect clean design, simplistic decorations and digital print to be big in 2020.
Lifestyle Packaging’s global head of marketing Rich Quelch says: “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’s head of new product development Lisa Dower expects clean packaging and simplistic designs to be a defining trend in the new year, adding: “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.”
A minimalist feel is expected to be a key aspect of packaging design in 2020.
Sustainability has been a major trend for several years now, and this won’t change anytime soon. One key aspect of this trend in 2020 will be for companies to make packaging 100% recyclable, or as close as possible.
One example of this is Coca-Cola’s recently launched marketing campaign encouraging consumers to recycle its bottles. The company says Smartwater will be its first brand to come in bottles made from 100% recycled plastic.
Colourform’s marketing manager Hannah March says: “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.”
Coca-Cola’s recent marketing campaign encourages consumers to recycle bottles.
Smart packaging will continue to become more popular 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 says: “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 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 also, crucially, to 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’s vice-president Ken Moir adds: “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.”
Smart features on packaging are set to become more popular.
Edible packaging has slowly gained traction over the past few years and further development and innovation is on the horizon for 2020.
Direct Packaging Solutions representative Tom Simpkins says: “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. Across the world we’re seeing 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.”
Bruxel waffle’s edible packaging. Image courtesy of EvowareWorld