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It’s Not Your Father’s Packaging!

Father WalkingIn case you haven’t noticed, packaging has changed. It does more than house the product. It has been a powerful marketing vehicle that represents the brand, speaks to individual demographic groups, and engages consumers with dynamic content. Let’s look at five ways the role of packaging has expanded.

Packaging is segmented.

Today’s packaging is segmented by more than just sub-product. It is segmented by demographic and lifestyle. It varies by gender, age, and even average household income. It may vary based on ethnicity. Cereal boxes may be printed in different languages, for example, or packaging may be tweaked for urbanites who need extra portability or who live in smaller spaces.

Packaging is digital.

Highly segmented packaging used to be for large brands with high volumes. With today’s digital presses, everything from folding cartons to flexible packaging can be produced in very short runs. Even small, niche brands can break their runs into smaller, targeted consumer segments.

Packaging is artwork.

From actual wood laminates to metallic substrates and leatherettes, to the use of raised or dimensional inks, packaging has become an art. Even digitally printed packaging can be produced on unique substrates, offering intriguing, tactile textures. Digital presses can also generate stunning metallic effects, whether using true metallic inks or metallic substrates.

Packaging is interactive.

The use of QR Codes, augmented reality, virtual reality, and other print-to-mobile technologies turn packaging into a dynamic, interactive medium. Consumers can scan the package to play a game, download a coupon, or access a cooking video. Using augmented reality, Heinz customers, for example, can scan their phones across the shelf of catsup bottles, viewing potential recipe cards from several feet away.

Packaging is green(er).

In a Tetra Pak survey covering 25 countries, 87% of consumers in the developed world indicated that they have at least “somewhat serious” concerns about global climate change. One-quarter said they felt “guilty” about doing something unfriendly to the environment. This is reflected in the products they buy and the brands they engage with. Consumers feel better about recycled and recyclable packaging materials and those that are carbon-neutral, made of natural materials, or that are otherwise sustainably produced.

Packaging has become increasingly sophisticated, and getting it right is serious business.