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Are you wrapping right? A look at packaging trends in 2022

As we rip open the parcels brought to our door almost daily by delivery drivers, we probably give little thought to the box or wrapping paper. Yet the global packaging industry is enormous, with world demand predicted to reach $1.05 trillion by 2024.

Packaging has a huge part to play in protecting products for storage, sale and shipping. For major companies, it is also integral to their brand image and customer promise. But while the growth in this industry is fuelled by consumer and industry trends, the overarching influencer is the change from bricks-and-mortar stores to e-commerce.

Here, we take a look at the key trends in packaging for 2022.

Digital printing

Digital printing is revolutionising the way physical product packaging is designed as well as the way the images or graphics on the packaging are created. It allows for greater personalisation and customisation options than were possible with mechanical processes like typesetting. In fact, such is the influence of digital printing that hardly any packaging companies still use traditional methods.

Digital print technology allows all colours to be printed in a single pass, which has fuelled the growth of ‘printing on-demand’ – a trend that shows no sign of abating.

Personalised packaging

If you managed to get a can of Coke with your name on it when they first appeared in 2013, you were part of the trend for personalised packaging that many brands believe is a valuable tool in their tactical marketing armoury.

The ability to use digital print to customise or personalise packaging and products is still having a major industry impact in 2022. Many leading brands have reported a significant return on investment on personalised packaging, with most believing it has a strong influence on their customers.

Because it is infinitely variable, customised packaging can be exploited by companies as an extension of their brand story, and digital printing makes it affordable – so seasonal trends, brand collaborations and promotional initiatives are easy to accommodate. Expect to see more of this in coming years.

Clear and clean labelling

Labelling is undergoing its own revolution, as consumers demand more and better information about what’s in their product choices. They want manufacturers to be transparent about what the products contain, and they want to be sure the ingredients are ‘clean’ – meaning that they don’t contain harmful ingredients.

Companies have embraced transparent labelling because the more open they are with their customers, the more their brand is trusted. This is particularly important in the food sector, with consumers now regularly scanning packages with their smartphones to find out exactly what they contain. This trend will remain strong in 2022, with consumers more likely to buy a newly launched food product that has clear and easily accessible product information.

Growth in flexible and recyclable packaging

The move towards flexible packaging material continues, with wraps, bags, pouches and envelopes gaining ground on hard materials. Easier to store, close and reseal; lightweight, kinder to the environment and better suited to e-commerce, flexible packaging’s growth is due in part to the fact that it is now much more planet-friendly.

If manufacturers aren’t convinced by the ecological advantages of recyclable packaging, however, they may soon be persuaded by financial penalties. Retail giant Amazon requires its vendors to meet waste-efficient packaging standards or pay a per-package penalty. Others are bound to follow suit. This is important for marketers as well as anyone responsible for logistics: consumers feel better about brands whose packaging does not damage the environment.

This brings us back to e-commerce. According to a report from Statista, in 2021 retail e-commerce sales amounted to 4.9 trillion US dollars worldwide. This figure is forecast to reach about 7.4 trillion dollars by 2025, so it’s no surprise that specialised e-commerce packaging is trending. And as ‘unboxing’ videos continue to fuel shoppers’ obsession with online purchases across the world, who would ever have thought that packaging itself could be the star of a social media trend?

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