The latest innovations in packaging

Pack differentiation

A constant battle for brands is to ensure their products stand out on the shelf at the moment the consumer is making their buying decision - the so-called 'moment of truth' in store. In order to do this, brands must secure their niche and advertise their unique selling point in an engaging way. Examples of companies successfully achieving pack differentiation include Budweiser, who's recent beer cans take on their distinctive bow-tie shape, and Tattinger Champagne, who's varied and colourful bottles are striking and impactful on the shelf.

Many brands achieve stand-out appeal by simply 'saying it how it is'. In the same way that brands are reverting to vintage designs to convey a traditional and trustworthy approach, brands also like to communicate honesty, simplicity and clear intent to their consumers. Examples include Heinz Ketchup, whose bottle states that it is 'bursting full of tomatoes' and school bars, which directly state their purpose and context of consumption.

Sustainability has traditionally been a driver for consumers as environmental concerns increasingly enter the public consciousness, so brands are keen to flaunt their sustainable credentials on pack. Brown materials, uncluttered packaging and simple fonts all point towards an environmental focus, even if there is none present.


Recent technological innovations have been able to take packaging's interactions with consumers one step further. Bottles from brands such as Heineken and Strongbow offer numerous interactive features, for example producing beams of light when opened, and the ability to control the light on DJ decks. While these are not in mass production and are in fact more of a marketing tool, they showcase just what can be done with packaging technology.

Although the packaging industry is working hard to maximise technology use, there is still more that can be done. For example, differentiation between online and in-store packaging. Once purchased, the advertising and point of sale text on a pack is made redundant. If brands can use one pack for selling the product and another for its delivery, they can maximise both resources and packaging.

How can we expect these innovations to develop and change over time? The heritage and nostalgia trend will continue, as will natural and simple designs as connotations of environmentally friendly packaging. There are also profitable opportunities out there for functional packaging which delights the consumer.

More information about the innovations in the packaging industry can be found in Smithers Pira report The Future of Global Packaging to 2018.