Packaging trends and innovations for 2022 and beyond: increased sustainability and efficiency

When you're an entrepreneur you know better than anyone that it's the small things that dictate success. Even if you take into account all the huge and seemingly most important aspects, disregarding the minute details can make or break your business. One such case is that of packaging.

It may sound like an exaggeration, but the way you choose to package your products does indeed contribute to favourable or negative outcomes for your business.

Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/jpQs15STZZ4  This is not least of all due to increased scrutiny towards sustainable practices.

In recent years an ever-growing number of buyers have begun prioritising green practices from the brands where they spend their money. This includes a list of comprehensive practices, ranging from consuming less energy, fewer resources in the manufacturing process, using recycled materials, employing people under ethical working conditions and, yes, you guessed it, using sustainable practices. Indeed, a recent study has confirmed that no fewer than 74% of buyers are willing to pay more for eco-friendly packaging.

With that in mind, let's have a look at what that means in 2022, as well as how the trends are set to evolve over the next few years. 

Reduce the volume 

One of the most common mistakes made by several enterprises is overpacking. You may have encountered this as a customer. You've ordered something small but when you open the box it's been wrapped in a number of paper or plastic wrappers.

This isn't only annoying to get through, it's also wasteful as that significant amount of raw material will end up tossed in the bin. Some may argue that this is important in order to guarantee protection, particularly in the case of expensive items that can be damaged quickly, such as electronics. While this is true, there's an easier solution to that problem.

Simply packing and wrapping everything with a close fit serves to minimise the amount of paper and plastic used. When items are arranged snugly, they're unlikely to move and shift during transportation and are less likely to sustain any damage. 

Personalised packaging 

The days of impersonal commerce are long gone. The customer of today wants to feel connected to the businesses they're buying from and wants to have common worldviews and ideas to those of the companies.

If their vision doesn't align with those of the brands, they're more than willing to take their custom elsewhere.  One of the best ways to make your business stand out is to jump the bandwagon of the latest trend of providing personalised packaging for your clientele. When you do this you send a message that you're really putting your heart and soul into your brand and are willing to go the extra mile to make sure everything looks perfect. 

You can also draw inspiration from other brands. For example, Beanbags.co.uk offer a wide range of products, ranging from the classic beanbags to giant pillows, kids accent chairs, and square seats. This has meant that they had to adapt and find the correct packaging options to fit every size and shape of beanbag comfortably.

It's important to get the right packaging for the right products in order to save on delivery charges, but also to ensure items arrive in pristine condition. Take a page from their book and don't underestimate the importance of personalisation when packaging is concerned. It helps increase your audience's loyalty - and improves the customer experience you provide.

Tech integration 

Technology is becoming the driving force behind every industry.

In manufacturing it's not only about cutting-edge processes bringing the latest innovations to merchandise, it also helps transform packaging from a mere protective exterior into an immersive experience. Since augmented reality and AI are certainly not going anywhere anytime soon and are likely only ever increasing in popularity, this is a trend you're probably going to want to look into.

3D-rendered artwork and interactive tours, as well as QR codes will provide your customers with accessible content and information that'll make shopping a more comprehensive experience. 

It's what on the inside that counts 

No really, it does. And not just the product but the packaging itself.

It's a real treat when the packaging is largely minimalist on the exterior, perhaps in a nude colour and with only a few written words, such as the brand logo and motto. But when your customer opens the box they find a richly decorated interior, with flowers or geometric patterning, designed with bold colours that will catch the eye of your clients. It's pretty much like buying a beautiful coat and then noticing that it comes with a beautifully designed lining.

Nobody can refuse a gift within a gift. 

Imperfection pleases aesthetically 

Are you familiar with the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi? This philosophy centres on the acceptance of imperfection as a part of life. Marketing has traditionally been based on the idea of presenting a perfect, often unrealistic image.

This doesn't work anymore as social movements have developed and people have become increasingly aware and critical of the nonsensical run for a perfect image.  This worldview translates into packaging as well, and imperfect wrapping is often associated with a manufacturing process that's less polluting and therefore greener. Since the climate crisis is a pressing concern for everybody and there's an urgent need for global action, you want to do your part and make sure you cater to the expectations of your environmentally-conscious audience.

Even if this means that the packaging costs will be a little higher due to the usage of higher-quality materials, it would be more of a statement to your commitment to bring superior grade goods to the market, as well as proof you're taking your obligation towards ensuring every part of the process is the best that you can offer. 

Recyclability 

And since we're discussing eco-friendly practices, we can't omit recyclable materials from the equation. You should choose to use packaging made from recycled materials and if there are certain parts of your wrappings that can't be reused and repurposed in any way you must change them as soon as possible. Replace them with items that can be recycled to show your customers you're dedicated to establishing your brand in an eco-friendly position. 

When you think about marketing the packaging you use is probably not at the forefront of your priorities.

However, it is an indirect way through which you express many things about your business and customers are sure to pick up on it.

Don't neglect it.