Consumer Megatrends and Packaging Implications: How Companies Can Ride Consumers' Coattails
Successful product development, marketing, and selling starts with the consumer. What do they want? What do they need? What are their motivations? What are their aspirations?
Across the consumer base, these dynamics can be manifested in trends. Companies that spot and respond to trends improve their odds of success in the marketplace. The better that a product or service aligns with one or more trends, the better chance it has to gain traction and win share.
Packaging is one key tool that helps companies connect with these trends.
We have identified nine “megatrends” that are prevalent among consumers today. These trends are influenced by shifts within a number of factors:
- Values: deeply held and enduring beliefs about what is important in life
- Attitudes: what people think about specific situations
- Behaviors: how people spend their time and money
- Lifestyles: patterns of everyday activities
We identified these trends and their implications on packaging via a robust, three-step process. First, a review of published material on trends and emerging consumer dynamics. Second, an examination of what we see with the customers and suppliers we touch every day. And third, a period of digestion and refinement, where we vetted our hypotheses and determined the packaging implications.
There is a lot of art to trend-watching. Not all experts agree as to what the trends are or what they mean. Not all trends apply to all consumers. Indeed, there are trends that may seem contrary to one another (like one trend around cocooning and another around connectivity). The marketplace is made up of many individuals, so the landscape is complex. And not all trends are as relevant to all companies or industries.
But a healthy review of megatrends and what they mean is a useful step in any company’s strategy.
The megatrends influencing consumers today are:
- Scrimp and Splurge
- Richer and Bolder Experiences
- Health and Wellness
- Rise of Boomers
- Community and Membership
See below for detail on the trends, the key indicators and drivers, and the implications the trends have on packaging.
|Megatrends||Descriptors and Key Elements||
(how packaging can help you take advantage of the trend)
|Comfort||Nostalgia, authenticity, trust, safety, cocooning, simplification||Glass, canning jars, apothecary feel, small-batch feel, tamper-evident packaging, decline of secondary packaging|
|Convenience||Time pressure, on-the-go, multitasking||
Single serve, reseal-ability, all-in-one, ready-to-use,
|Scrimp and Splurge||Trade-up on some items (luxury, premium) while seeking discounts on others (private label, Dollar store, Sam’s Club)||Club pack and bulk packaging, ergonomics of large packs; vs. high-deco and shelf appeal, small “splurge-size” packs|
|Richer and Bolder Experiences||Touch and smell sensory, energy and mood alteration, hedonism, experimentation, novelty, rethinking the mundane||Dosing caps, textural containers (e.g., soft touch, bumps), aroma accentuators (scratch & sniff, scent-infused packs), reactive labels and packs (temperature, sunlight, pH), gradient and bold colors, sheens, “unwrap” as an experience, trial sizes|
|Personalization||Made-to-order, niche, self-reliance, time alone||Affordable single-serve size, smaller but affordable batches, design-your-own labels|
|Health and Wellness||Freshness, natural, additive-free, local, fitness, stress relief||Portability, sport-closures, dosing caps, freshness dating, small-batch feel, “farmer’s market”|
|Rise of Boomers||Aging population, expanding life expectancy, desire to stay independent||Ergonomic, broad-ribbed closures, easy-open, easy-reading, intuitive design|
|Connectivity||Digital lifestyle, limitless information, pocket computers, global village||Info-rich/scannable bar codes, labels linked to Facebook, RFID, design for online shopping (virtual shelf)|
|Community and Membership||Brands that mirror what’s important to “me”: sustainability, community, charity||Light-weight, biodegradable, close to nature, small carbon footprint, reuse and refill, label info on corporate values|
There are at least three takeaways for how companies can respond to these trends:
- Broaden the lenses used for innovation and ideas. Trends operate at many levels, across many kinds of consumers, in many locations. Cast a wide net to capture and examine what is happening with your consumers.
- Opportunistically jump on trends when consistent with company strategy and brand positioning. You can create positive buzz and momentum by aligning with where consumers are moving.
- Strategically, focus resources differentially on trends that can be monetized and reshape company strategy overall to mesh better with the trends.
Packaging can be an element in all three of these takeaways. Consider how packaging is used and is evolving with consumers around the world, and build an action plan for packaging for both near- and longer-term views.
Nine megatrends are influencing consumers today. The relevance and exact implications of these trends will be different for every company, and there may be additional trends at play as well. But every company should pause to review these nine trends. Packaging can play an important role in helping you align with these megatrends.
As it relates to your product, your package, your pricing, your promotion, and your distribution channels – how well are your embracing the trends? How well does each function in your company acknowledge and capitalize on these trends – product development, package development, marketing, sales, supply chain, finance, human resources…? What are the seeds of the next trend that you can uncover before your competition?