11 Consumer Trends Driving Product Innovation and Packaging

As companies focus on optimizing customer experiences, product packaging is a key component where true differentiation can be shown. After all, customer-centric brand marketing is critical to building long-lasting product value, not to mention strong consumer relationships.    

Let's look at delivering a level of customization that elevates user experience to something informative, motivating or entertaining. For Coca-Cola, the secret was in being entertaining. The company made headlines when it leveraged mass customization capabilities to deliver thousands of uniquely-branded bottles in its "Share a Coke" campaign. When the campaign first launched a few years ago, it only featured 250 of the most popular names but has seen variations since then including expansion to 1,000 names, nicknames, song lyrics and holiday destinations. In some instances, Coca-Cola created packaging that had names in Braille, integrating more diverse audiences into the program. Today, Coca-Cola runs a Share a Coke website, where items can be customized and purchased directly. Brilliant.   

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It is innovation like this that will keep customers interested and attract new ones. Customization sells – but it's not the only trend driving the industry. Still, it begs the question: What does success look like for the future of your packaged products, especially in the face of a changing consumer landscape riddled with game changing trends?  

Answering that question may not be as easy as you think. But, we like to start with an understanding of key consumer trends driving change: 

  1. Alternative Channels: Consumers are embracing shopping outside of the traditional retail store model. Pop-up stores, and online and mobile apps are just a few of the channels making headlines. They all represent new "first moments of truth," as well as out-of-the-box opportunities for differentiation and rapid trial product launches. 
  2. Convenience: With increasingly busy and on-the-go lifestyles, consumers expect more from products, preferring those that seamlessly integrate into – and enhance – their lives. 
  3. Digitization: Computers and smartphones have become key features of day-to-day life and activities. Digitization provides consumers the opportunity to manage digitally-integrated products at their fingertips with ease.  
  4. e-Commerce: e-Commerce, which has outpaced the growth of brick-and-mortar retail for years, is now disrupting one of the last in-store value propositions, allowing consumers to order a product and have it delivered to their door 90 minutes later.   
  5. Emerging Middle Class: In markets around the world, consumers are climbing the economic ladder and they're bringing new levels of disposable income and spending habits.  
  6. Experience Seekers: As newer generations enter in the marketplace, the definition of a "product" is transforming from a single-use transaction, into an ongoing relationship between the consumer and the product brand – and even the community of like-minded consumers. 
  7. Global Urbanization: Location, location, location. Through urbanization, consumers are owning and occupying smaller and smaller spaces. And this has an impact on not just how they're consuming products, but where. 
  8. Healthy Living: Consumers are taking a more active role in decisions which affect their health and choosing products accordingly.  
  9. Safety & Trust: Customers want to know that what they're actually buying is what they think they're buying. This raises issues of counterfeiting and product tampering, knock-off products and growing attention towards product additives. 
  10. Shopping Behavior: The steps consumers are taking before (and after) a purchase is changing. More time is being spent researching available options online, well before they even set foot inside a retail store. 
  11. Sustainability: It is no longer just a trend or a wish-list item. Sustainability has become an absolute necessity for consumers. In fact, 75 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product if the company is making an effort to be sustainable.     

Let's go back to the question: what does success look like for the future of your packaged products?  

This is the question we will help answer in an upcoming webinar series, Packaging of the Future, sponsored by Jabil Packaging Solutions and Radius Innovation & Development. Join Senior Director of Technology at Jabil Packaging Solutions Martin Johnson and Managing Director at Radius Toriono Granger for a comprehensive look at the big consumer trends that are driving packaging innovation and breakthrough products.