The Future of Packaging
Our Predictions for Packaging’s Next Milestones
As we enter a new year it’s difficult to not look much further ahead and assess what the face of packaging might look like in a few years’ time. At Kite we continually push for bigger and better innovations, and listening to the marketplace is a key way in which we develop our ideas and products.
Looking back at ‘The Future of Packaging’ supplement, which featured in the Sunday Times on 9th December, some key points were highlighted about how packaging could possibly move forward in an ever-demanding world. Although our industry is predominantly B2B the end consumer is usually at the heart of any innovation, particularly in the food and retail sectors.
We’ve identified three elements to packaging that we think will become the most important features for consumers in the future – let us know what you think on Twitter.
Environment and Sustainability
The environment is a key consideration for the packaging industry, as well as the consumer, and our sector is under constant scrutiny as packaging is often a disposable commodity. Sustainability is set to be brought to the forefront of the future packaging agenda, so expect to see even more environmentally-friendly designs come to life, such as Aaron Mickelson’s ‘disappearing’ packaging. This student from America designed several disappearing packs for his senior thesis, including a soap box that dissolved in water and washing machine tablets that could be ripped off one by one and dissolved in the machine.
Innovation in the sector has already begun with a focus on ‘Eco-refill’ packs, an idea pioneered by brands such as Kenco that traditionally supply product in glass jars or metal tins. The refill packs serve a purpose for their customers who will simply be refilling a new jar of coffee or even dispensing coffee beans into their own coffee tins once a jar of Kenco runs out, the refill packs save a huge 84% on materials each time. This year we are preparing for even more refill packs from retailers including washing powder brands, other hot drinks and powdered milk.
Plastic is a huge concern for the industry in terms of its environmental values, as traditional plastic takes a long time to bio-degrade and can give off gases that are harmful to the environment. Innovations to improve the environmental benefits of plastic are a key focus for manufacturers and packaging technologists, one of the most exciting being a water soluble film – tasteless and odourless it is safe to consume and therefore can be used to replace sauce and flavouring sachets found in convenience foods.
We have always been concerned with how packaging affects the environment, and have taken several steps in the evolution of our product ranges to ensure our products are greener. Of course, our ‘Enviro’ range is leading this trend – with core-less pallet wrap, single wall boxes with double wall strength and tape that thanks to larger rolls and smaller cores mean a 63% reduction in cardboard waste. We have also introduced the Mini Air machine to our market, which as well as saving costs also has significant benefits to the environment when compared with traditional void-fill and production waste.
In a recent survey a staggering 76% of consumers admitted that they buy products based on how attractive the packaging is. This could be a wake-up call to bespoke packaging manufacturers who are still producing hum-drum looking boxes. One of the most pressing concerns, particularly when producing packaging for the food and retail sector, is ‘shelf-velocity’ which refers to making the most out of the shelf space allocated to your product by a shop or supermarket.
The fight for retail space is fierce, and so even a small allocation of shelving is at a premium – why shouldn't you be making the most of it? Packaging design can help greatly to improve shelf velocity and draw your customer’s eye away from competitors. Beautiful and limited edition designs now crowd the supermarket aisles – each with their own personal touch. Who could forget Cadbury's Christmas themed wrappers this year? And the golden packs created in honour of the Queens Golden Jubilee back in 2012?
However as design gets even more sophisticated it is bound to be the packs that incorporate attractive design and clever functionality that take the limelight for a consumer. This has already been proven with some indie brands and student designers pioneering the next generation of packaging. Check out this Buzzfeed post featuring some of the best we've seen, we love the pizza slice holders and crisp can that turns in to a snacking bowl – the best concepts are the ones that solve those niggling daily problems.
Building a brand has become more and more important with the rise of social media and noise in the marketplace and this can be partly achieved through recognisable packaging and branding. Stay tuned this year for further products added to the Kite website which will help you to create the right brand image, and remember that our custom-printed tape and coloured tissue is an easy and cost-effective way of creating a corporate identity for your products.
As the consumer demand for faster delivery, easier to open packs and better security grows the pressure on the warehouse and logistics operation grows too. Recent announcements regarding delivery this year have included the hotly anticipated launch of shutl courier services for commercial use, including a big deal by UK shoe store, Schuh that now can guarantee delivery in 90 minutes or more. As well as this, superstar e-commerce store Amazon are still trying to convince us all that Amazon ‘drones’ will be flying through our skies far in to the future.
To ensure these impressive targets are achieved the warehouse operation needs to be slicker and more sophisticated – ridding themselves of traditional packaging methods in favour of more automated and reliable systems. Air cushions is a huge part of this as they reduce packing time massively when compared with other void-fill, the versatility of air cushions is also quickly being recognised by the industry as a way to save space and tighten up the packing process. Other machinery includes pallet wrap machines, strapping machines and for much smaller operations simple tools such as tape dispensers.
There is also a call for better way to pack boxes – we love this idea of the ‘rapid packing container’, an idea that two students came up with that has already generated over 3 million view on YouTube.
As for Kite, we have a brilliant new innovation that is set to cause a revolution in the packaging industry – its top secret at the moment but don’t worry – you’ll be the first to know about it.
Have we missed anything off the list? Perhaps you have a packaging solution to a common problem? Or maybe you’re a student with some breath-taking graphic skills? If so get in touch, we love nothing more than a heated packaging discussion!