Consumer demands, laced with new technologies, have shaped packaging standards more than ever this year. Brands and manufacturers have constantly been creating innovative packaging to engage today’s consumers and build brand loyalty. So, as the year creeps into a close, we’re looking back at the top packaging trends of 2016:

1. Digital printing

For years now digitally printed labels have been improving workflow, allowing for more innovative marketing practices, and ultimately getting products off the shelves faster. But this year a new paradigm has taken hold as brand owners across the globe invested more resources into planning digital packaging strategies. This has resulted in the technology to produce high-quality packaging on a variety of formats and materials on digital presses. There has been more digitally printed packaging on our retail shelves than ever before.

2. Flexibles

Flexibles, such as the pouches of food you see in the supermarket aisles, have risen in popularity. So far, 32% of consumers are said to associate flexible packaging with being modern, which means brands have started to tap into the opportunities they present for branding and marketing. What’s so great about them, you ask? Well, they capture consumer attention by offering both functional and environmental benefits. Which leads to our next point…

3. packaging for the environment

Demand for greener, more eco-friendly packaging  has risen over the years, but this year consumers have stated that reusable and biodegradable packaging is actually a key purchasing driver. In fact, in 2015 81% of consumers said they would make personal sacrifices to address social, environmental issues. This will continue to be the future of packaging: eco-friendly, biodegradable, recyclable and wildlife-friendly packaging that helps protect our environment.

4. Simple, honest packaging

Consumers have demanded more information about what they’re buying, but seeking less clutter on their packaging that confuses their purchasing decisions. Studies have shown that 48% of consumers check the ingredients of their product and 76% are concerned by the use of artificial preservatives. What’s more, people want to know where their products are coming from. This has meant that packaging started containing more clear and concise information about its innards. A great example of this is Nakd bars, which make virtue of how few ingredients are in their products.

5. Portion-sized packaging

On-the-go culture has demanded smaller, more snack-sized portions. More people are eating on the go, so packaging needs to be easy to open and re-seal so food doesn’t spill out or go bad. Not only that, but a sense of control over snacking portions has increased in popularity as we become more mindful of our health. As such, food portions have gotten smaller, and so has the packaging.

6. Mobile-engaged packaging

As online engagement through smart phones has grown, apps that support ‘mobile-engaged’ packaging have become more popular, especially with the smartphone-savvy generations X, Y and Z. This has offered the opportunity for brands to not only capture valuable data while consumers are in store and researching or purchasing the product, but to also engage them with extra information they couldn’t find on the label, or with competitions, for example.

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