Packaging for Millennials & Beyond

It might surprise you to learn that different generations have different effects on the packaging industry. Baby boomers, which have thundered like a herd of elephants through the ages, dominate the pharmaceutical packaging market.  Medical device packaging for them needs to be lightweight, easy to open, and clearly labeled. However, millennials have surpassed the baby booms to become the largest generation in United States history. Representing nearly 25% of the population, it’s clear that packaging for millennials requires a different tone, look and feel than previous generations.

Packaging for Millennials is Different

Millenials are defined as the generation born between the early 1980’s and mid-1990’s.  While singular qualities range, like any generation, millennials are marked by their desire for uniqueness and creativity, and manufacturers are reacting with increasingly innovative and interesting packaging decisions. Their comfort with mobile devices and online shopping means that knowledge and possessions are quickly available at their fingertips. Ranging from their early twenties to late thirties, their purchasing power is primarily what’s driving the changes in packaging to meet their desire for instant gratification.

What Millennials Look For in Packaging

According to Packaging Digest, there are a few common things that millennials look for in choosing brands and, by extension, packaging for millennials:

  1. What does the brand say about me?
    Millennials want to feel a personal connection to brands because brands say something about a person. In part, brands define who a person is and what their values are. As a generation with access to nearly anything, the choices are limitless. To assign meaning to those choices, millennials see their purchases as emblematic of themselves.
  2. How can this brand be customized to me?
    It’s the insult of all insults: BASIC. To call someone basic is essentially to call them uninteresting. Un-extraordinary. Snd worst of all, boring. This is partially a reference to the millennial love for specialty product ingredients but also the packaging. Millennials consistently gravitate toward custom packaging, according to Supermarket News. Think of the Coca-Cola initiative recently, with people’s names on Cokes.
  3. Is it exclusive and high-end packaging?
    Building on the customization factor, millennials love high-end private label branding. Think luxury and exclusive packaging. Or at least packaging that can be perceived like that.
  4. Who else is using it?
    Social media gives everyone a platform to rant or rave about products, and millennials are very adept at picking up what’s hot and what’s not. Creating buzz is key to packaging for millennials. Include QR codes, hashtags, anything that invites interaction with the brand on the package itself.

How Packaging for Generation Z Will Go Even Further

There’s no sign of these trends stopping with millennials. Generation Z is coming up fast behind them, and they promise to wield even more market power. Expect them to want an even MORE personal relationship with their chosen brands.They’ll also expect to use their mobile-first identity to interact with brands constantly.

Contact Sunrise today for tips and ideas on creating packaging that speaks to millennials in their language.

Digital Print Trends 2016

Digital print for promotional packaging

Custom packaging is a pretty broad topic. Does it mean a cardboard box, a plastic wrapper, or a metal briefcase? When designing packaging for a product, the one major element to hit is to choose a design that complements the product itself. Form follows function, at the end of the day.

One way to keep a box customized while also the right fit for the job is to utilize digital printing.


What is digital print?

It is what you think it is: a process by which a digitally-stored image is printed directly onto the medium. This shouldn’t sound revolutionary. You might assume most images seen on packaging are digitally-printed. However, when it comes to boxes, t-shirts, or anything printed in large amounts, screen printing is still a more practical process in bulk.

A new press release, however, shows the beauty of going digital. David Luttenberger, global packaging director for the Mintel Group, has made a list of packaging trends for 2016--and right at the top? A focus on digital print.

Luttenberger calls the rise of this technique an evolution, not revolution. Which is true: experts have been predicting a digital boom as far back as 2013. But what digital printing offers is far more versatile than the endless, one-shot screen print process. Screen printing cannot be manipulated on the fly like digital can. With digital printing, you can change ingredients, logos, and instructions with a few changes to the digital source. This allows for smaller runs, or preliminary press versions of product packaging. Luttenberger draws attention to the successful Coca-Cola campaign of including names on their labels. This imaginative marketing would not have been plausible with screen printing.

Digital also allows you to include smaller details for higher-definition. Screen printing works for simple logos, but if you need to include lifelike imagery, digital is the only way to go.

In a nutshell, digital printing gives businesses more freedom. Freedom to try a new look, a new campaign, or a new marketing strategy, without committing to the asset creation or monotony of screen printing.

Will digital finally see it’s boom in 2016? Only time will tell.

Packaging Trends Appear at Biggest Pack Expo Yet

Instant Rigid Box_packaging trends Flatfoldup-Box

Reports are calling Pack Expo Las Vegas a ‘record breaker.’

Modern Materials Handling breaks down the numbers from Pack Expo Las Vegas, showing an increase in just about every statistic from 2013’s show. The expo brought nearly 29,000 custom packaging fans to Nevada the final weekend in September. Showrunner PMMI, the Association of Packaging and Processing Technologies, says that’s a 6% increase from 2013.

This might have been due in part to the joint effort with the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering, which allowed Pharma Con to take place within the same convention area. Either way, more sets of eyes were on current packaging trends than any year prior.

These trends ranged in topic across quite a spectrum. While advancements in robotic packaging devices stole the show, the biggest topics were (of course) medical packaging, environmentally friendly packaging, and food packaging.

More than the usual presentation packaging side, the medical packaging trends were aimed at sterility and proper dosage. Additionally, according to Packaging World, packaging design seemed to be answering the call by the public to be more environmental. The most interesting element may have been the push from rigid packaging to flexible packaging, or rather packaging designs that could be converted from one to the other. Some kind of of hybrid of corrugated and rigid packaging? In a way, we already have a product like that, but it will be curious to see what comes next.

But whatever comes next in popular packaging, the same high quality of standards and design will have to be present. No matter what trends or inventions come along in the world of presentation packaging, retail packaging, and luxury packaging, we know that packaging in general is still a necessity. Without custom boxes for security, thermoformed trays and foam inserts for storage, and the visual marketing provided by custom printing, products will have a very unfortunate presence on shelves and in meetings.

Whatever trends are coming down the pipe, you can guarantee we’ll stay on top of it.

3 Packaging Design Trends for 2012

What are some packaging design trends for 2012?

Look for 3 packaging design trends from 2011 to carryover into 2012 and become more prevalent.

Number 1:  Keep it simple. Industry specialists are moving towards packaging designs that are unambiguous, concise, and much more simplified, thereby providing consumers with greater clarity regarding product information. This trend is not new but is expected to become more and more prevalent in 2012.


Number 2:  Open innovation. This trend of mutual collaboration between supplier and designer is becoming key to packaging design success. It guarantees that the supplier has a clear understanding of what’s required from both parties, while exposing designers to new technologies – resulting in an improved end-product for client. Custom packaging can be a complicated process when communication isn’t open and the vision of the packaging isn’t shared by all parties. But when the supplier, designer, and client work together, custom packaging can become magical.


Number 3: Sustainable packaging. When ethics and ecological concerns are translated into green packaging, consumers associate a sense of well-being and security with the product and brand at hand. Biodegradability and nanotechnology are becoming hot trends in packaging designs in all industries. Look for that to accelerate during the 2012 calendar year.

Going Back in Time With Retro Packaging

Packaging design is a critical decision making criteria for consumers. The first sense we use when we shop is our sight, which means we see packaging before we see the actual product. Marketers need to make sure packaging is appealing so it will entice consumers to make a choice and purchase. A new trend in packaging is going back in time and creating a retro look and feel. Retro packaging design adds a dash of nostalgia and curiosity. Below are three products that have embraced the retro trend and used the idea in their packaging design.

Doritos wanted to relaunch their taco flavor chips so they decided to reintroduce them in the original 1960s packaging. Consumers have made comments online about how much they miss the taco flavor. So Doritos listened to those people and brought the taco flavor and its retro packaging back to life. They also announced that the taco flavor will remain in the permanent product line-up.

When the very first washing machine was invented, Tide was a choice for detergent. Today Tide is still a choice for getting clothes clean. Tide wants consumers to enjoy their retro packaging, hoping it will bring some past memories back to life. Tide has been a trusted brand for over 50 years, and its retro packaging showcases how this brand has grown. The retro and vintage look of Tide’s limited edition packaging shows how it looked years ago, but has the same performance qualities we know today.

Celebrity Apprentice finalists meet 7UP as they designed retro packaging for their final task on the show. The retro look for 7UP displays the brand’s legacy from the 1970s and the 1980s. The retro designs showcase how 7UP is “The Uncola” with its crisp lemon-lime taste. It has been a great tasting brand for over 80 years, and the retro packaging lets consumers know how much it has evolved and stayed true to its roots.

Retro packaging is a creative way to bring nostalgia and uniqueness to packaging. It gives consumers a chance to see how packaging has evolved and grown. For others, it takes them back to when they got their first washing machine and used Tide to clean their clothes, or when they drank 7UP at a family picnic, or when they ate Taco Flavored Doritos when listening to the radio. Retro packaging lets consumers get involved with the packaging and product, giving them a chance to experience something vintage.

Top Packaging Trends for 2011

As 2010 comes to an end, and a new year is about to begin, many things in our world are about to change. The packaging industry, for example, is expecting changes for 2011. As technology advances rapidly, a push for sustainability is expected to grow. The possibilities for the packaging industry are endless for 2011 with new innovations becoming present everyday.

Here are the top trends for 2011:

1. The attraction of design: The purpose of design is to communicate with the consumer and entice them to purchase. Understanding the customer and what they want is the key to this trend.

2. The color of 2011 is green: Demand for eco-friendly and sustainable options in packaging is increasing. Consumers are more apt to buy products made from eco-friendly materials and/or eco-friendly practices and processes. Energy saving, water saving, material reduction, and recyclability are just a few examples of how eco-friendliness is getting incorporated in the packaging industry. The idea is to lessen their impact on the environment and look for innovative ways to do so.

3. Robots are coming: Automated technology is always improving. The ability for this technology to be used in the packaging industry helps to improve production and lower costs.

4. A digital world calls for digital printing: Digital printing is a method of printing that is done from a digital based image. This process allows for shorter production runs, flexibility, and rapid turnaround. Digital printing will increase in versatility and application in 2011.

5. These aren’t your average tags: Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is a technology that uses communication via radio waves to exchange data between a reader and an electronic tag attached to an object. The purpose of these tags is to identify and track. It provides security and authenticity. This will be a common feature on packages. QR codes and M Tags are new applications that are becoming apart of packaging. These tags are a different type of tag that incorporate mobile phones and allows businesses to increase exposure.

6. Customization is key: Companies are looking for ways to set themselves apart from others. That is where customization comes into play. Packaging is the first thing a customer sees when buying a product. Unique packaging allows a business to grasp the attention of customers. By having the option to customize packaging, companies have a million possibilities at their disposal.

The new year holds positive trends for the packaging industry as well as a positive outlook. The packaging industry continues to grow and has a world of potential for 2011.

Are You Prepared For the Green Consumer?

Yes, we’re somewhere in the midst of the worst economic downturn in history. For obvious reasons, consumers have taken more interest in searching for value in the products that they purchase. Because of this, price is playing a major role in the buying decisions for more consumers than in a stable economic environment.

Despite the weakness in the economy, sustainable packaging is growing and the green consumer is not going away! Recent statistics show that only 11% of consumers have heard the phrase sustainable packaging. Of those 11%, half of them thought sustainable packaging meant durable packaging. However, when we analyze consumer trends,  we find that these statistics will not hold true for very long. In fact, they were probably outdated as soon as they were published.

Consumers are becoming more educated on sustainability and its role in packaging. While still looking at price, consumers are increasingly interested in their personal impact on the environment and are demanding more from manufacturers. Many consumers believe that products have too much packaging. Because of this manufacturers are downsizing and lightening the protective covering that goes around their products. Those manufacturers are seeing benefits from these efforts by realizing material savings and increased demand from green consumers.

Most observers don’t expect any changes in the growth of sustainable packaging, no matter what the state of the economy is. If we’re seeing growth through these difficult times, the importance of sustainability to the consumer is fairly obvious. What might change is the demand for more clarity around the messaging. As consumers are becoming more educated, they’re going to be looking closely at what is really sustainable. We might expect to see more discussion about codes, standards, and oversights. Consumers are going to hold manufacturers more accountable for making sure that they’re staying true to their message.

More info:
Packaging Digest