Packaging trends: the Fab Four that will disrupt the industry

Smart, sustainable, safe and resistant: the thermal properties (and not only) of new packaging materials.


As new technologies innovate packaging and connect it to the virtual world, consumers demand eco-friendly solutions to clean up the real world. Together with Mintel, the world’s leading market intelligence agency, let’s discover the four main trends that will drive innovation over the next few years in the packaging industry.

Packaging trends: Connected packaging

Multiple technologies are allowing brands to connect physical packaging to the virtual world.

The connected packaging is seeing a renewed interest, driven by the growth in the number of connected devices around the world and by the progress of technologies that allow packaging to be connected to the online world.

Today brands have a wide range of options to virtually connect with packaging, including QR codes and other graphic indicators, near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), Bluetooth and augmented reality (AR).

The connected packaging creates a marketing opportunity, bringing the commitment and interaction of the online world to the moment of purchase, potentially influencing and guiding the purchase.

At home, such connections can increase consumer engagement and interactions with the brand, increase product use and add an experiential element to product interactions.

Final thought
The connected packaging can be the link between the physical and digital shopping world, giving brands the possibility to control the way in which their products are displayed online, as well as being able to provide appealing content and specific information on the products to influence directly purchase decisions.

Packaging trends: Circular Economy

Consumers have been recycling some packages for years. But now they are asking for the possibility to recycle more and understand how recycling process really works.

During 2018, news about brands that have committed to recycling materials or packaging to 100% have dominated the titles of the industry. The reality is that few still have to fully consider how, where and who will supply and recycle these materials. These are simple questions that have no definitive answers.

Although requests for recyclable packaging have become frequent, requests to include recycled content are still rare. The low availability of high quality recycled plastic and food safety concerns are hindering the use of recycled material in food and beverages.

Brands have the opportunity to meet consumer demands for more recyclable packaging. While eco-responsible packaging can be complex to engineer, the way in which this responsibility is communicated to the consumer in pack must be simple, direct and easy to practice.

Final thought
Research is gradually developing quality recycled materials and, in the long term, quality will go hand in hand with cost reduction. With consumers who already think that recyclable packaging is an established standard, brands have the opportunity to differentiate and guide consumer awareness of recycling issues by being part of the solution and committing to using recycled materials in new packaging.


Packaging trends: Reinventing the box

As online shopping continues to grow, packaging solutions for e-commerce brands are changing the face of industry.

Packaging professionals and brands agree that the rapid development of e-commerce has had a greater impact on business, technologies, supply chain, engineering and packaging design globally than any other experience of the industry in recent decades.

These challenges are met with initiatives designed on the one hand to reduce costs and on the other to improve the consumer experience. There are unlimited opportunities for brand marketers to think about the presence of next-generation shelves, “hero images” on retailer websites and the “unboxing” experience when a product and a package is delivered.

Final thought
Consumers have different expectations depending on whether the product ordered online is a product for cleaning the house, an expensive dress or a box of chocolates. But brands must consider that consumers will continue to equate the quality of the product and brand with the care to pack and ship it.

Only through an established e-commerce packaging strategy can brands design packaging for the worst scenario in the distribution chain.

Losses, dents and spills will negatively reflect on the brand, not on the e-tailer or the shipper. There are great financial, social and brand gains in the packaging e-commerce industry simply by leveraging sustainability-based package optimization elements.

Packaging trends: Plastic free at last?

In the hope of having plastic-free aisle in every supermarket within a few years, brands must consider which packaging solution will give them a place on the shelf of the future.

As the scale of marine litter grows, the consensus is growing around the need to reinvent packaging through the introduction of new materials.

In Europe, plastic and its associated pollution have become the most pressing environmental concern. While the term “without plastic” may seem unique, there is no universal definition.

Final thought
Consumers have added to the concern about the pollution generated by plastic, the growing demand for real “plastic-free” areas in supermarkets and shops.

It is expected that soon the brands will also begin to develop appropriate packaging and packaging solutions without plastic, using sustainable materials, derived from secondary raw materials based on the principles of the circular economy.

It will therefore be important that the various players in the packaging supply chain concentrate on projects and activities that collaborate with the research world to develop solutions in this direction.

The importance of thermal analysis and other laboratory tests

The R&D functions of retailers, brands and logistics companies are developing innovative projects to develop, with the support of materials scientists and analysis laboratories, the new materials for the packaging of the future.

Every time a new material is developed, it is important to analyze and test its physical, mechanical, thermal behavior in operating conditions.

All these aspects constitute a strategic factor for polymeric materials in the packaging field in order to reduce as much as possible the production of waste and the impact of the product at the end of its life, as well as to guarantee high performance of the same along the use.

The innovation of materials is increasingly passing through the analysis, the study and the optimization of the thermo-physical characteristics of the materials themselves.

In this regard, thermal analysis on materials can provide important information on the characteristics of heat exchange, the degree of insulation and the ability to mitigate temperature variations in the environment of use so as to maintain the product in use.

This is why Thermocert‘s team of materials specialists and laboratory technicians have developed a set of analysis, tests and calculation tools in the thermo-physical field.

To discover the thermal properties of woods, polymers and other materials, visit the Thermocert website, and find out how we can support you in the development and texts of high-performance materials.

If you prefer, you can directly contact one of our materials specialists who can provide you with the information you need.