Packaging is intimately connected with the development of society. Looking back in time, the existence of packaging is a direct reflection of a society’s needs, culture, technologies, and available materials. As new trends emerge in our modern world, they inevitably affect the way we package, transfer property, and use goods. As the entire concept of retail is changing before our eyes, established retailers are now competing against the brands they’ve traditionally served and online shopping has almost exceeded in-store experiences. The very idea of currency is evolving right in front of us - it’s without question that the traditional ways we have shopped and transacted will be radically different in the near future.
As we transition from the shelf to the doorstep - Ecommerce, or direct to consumer, requires a rethinking of both product and package design. Whereas packaging for retail must command a purchase-worthy first impression, packaging for e-commerce needs to be equipped for the distribution environment, meaning it’s lightweight and durable.
The widespread adoption of social media has influenced brands to make their packaging share-able. A quick search of the hashtag unboxing will reveal over a half million posts, and the number of videos on YouTube with “unboxing” in their title have increased 871% since 2010.
Brands are racing to connect smartphones to packaging - consider the use of augmented reality to further brand equity and create an experience unlike ever before.
Smart (or active and Intelligent packaging systems) are gaining in popularity. Packaging can be used to detect product changes, harvest energy, power integrated devices, and communicate with the user. Integrated barcodes, on-demand QR codes, and RFID (or radio frequency identification) tags, are playing a larger role in anti-counterfeiting, expediting the path to purchase, rewarding consumers, and facilitating positive shopping experiences.
Another exciting change is the digital print revolution in conjunction with the democratization of distribution. The days of minimum order quantities and long lead times are becoming a thing of the past. The connection between manufacturers and consumers is becoming more decentralized through an ever growing network of distribution and fulfillment centers, along with major carrier competition. This allows brands both large and small to compete equally within the global marketplace. Art changes and customizations with digital print can be made on the fly - so, imagine launching a seasonal package in 10 markets, with 10 different designs, all at once. Sound futuristic? Nope - this is being done today.
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