As access to consumer goods around the world expands, securing and maintaining brand loyalty can be increasingly challenging. Capturing the consumer’s attention with unique and recognizable package design might be step one, but that package must also support a brand promise. Increasingly, consumers are more likely to purchase products that are not only good for their health, but also for the environment. According to the latest Global Packaging Trends Report from PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies and the Reston, Va.-based producer of the PACK EXPO tradeshows, these growing concerns of environmental impact and greater prioritization of health and wellness are key trends driving development and innovation in primary packaging.

Brands earn loyalty by providing goods that align with the needs and philosophies of the consumer. For example, the stronger consumers feel about recycling and environmental issues, the more those issues influence their brand loyalty. Buyers crave association with products and companies that support the causes that are important to them.

Sustainability worldwide
It is no surprise that environmentally friendly products are gaining popularity worldwide and the desire for eco-conscious packaging is evident. According to PMMI’s report, flexible plastic may remain the dominant pack type worldwide, but pack types such as brick liquid cartons and PET bottles will register the highest growth rates—a CAGR of 4.7%. PET bottles, for instance, will experience one of the largest forecast growth rates over the next five years. That may be attributed to the fact that PET is recyclable, durable, safe and light and is linked to the fast growth in bottled water consumption, what is said to be the fastest growing product category, also associated with health and wellness. Among Top 10 packaging types are metal beverage cans. There are various benefits associated with the use of aluminum, including that it is easy to recycle and preferred in many markets for its convenience.

According to “The Sustainability Imperative,” a global survey conducted by Nielsen, a New York-based market research firm, more than 50% of global consumers are influenced by sustainability factors when purchasing a product. Consumers not only prefer, but sometimes, are even willing to pay more for products and services from brands that are committed to positive environmental impact. As a result, companies that invest in sustainability efforts and effectively communicate these values through packaging resonate with consumers around the world and across generations.

Health and wellness
As greater consumer demand for health and wellness products sweeps through international markets, refrigerated and frozen food manufacturers that support these values stand the greatest chance to gain and secure brand loyalty. Packaging is an effective platform on which to reflect a brand’s commitment to the health and wellness of consumers. Packaging and labels that emphasize perceived benefits such as being “gluten free” and “all natural” inform shoppers of the attributes they may be looking for in products. The PMMI Global Packaging Trends report states that products effectively positioned toward health-conscious consumers in North America have seen a large increase in sales volume. In 2014, sales of gluten-free products reached $973 million. By 2019, it is expected to increase 140% to $2.34 billion.

Keep it authentic and find the right solution
As sustainability and health and wellness continue to drive brand loyalty, it’s important for refrigerated and frozen food manufacturers to prioritize points of differentiation. Presenting a product with creativity and originality, as well as ensuring that it lives up to the brand promise is essential to positioning the brand as a leader in the category rather than a “me too” offering. Packaging that breaks the shelf landscape provides ease-of-use and clearly articulates the product benefits, creating circumstances for that first engagement that turns a first-time purchaser into a lifetime fan.

To find the packaging materials and equipment necessary for enhancing brand loyalty, refrigerated and frozen food manufacturers can visit PACK EXPO International 2016, scheduled for Nov. 6-9, 2016 at McCormick Place, Chicago. The show will feature over 2,300 exhibitors throughout 1.2 million net square feet of exhibit space and is expected to attract 50,000 attendees from all over the world.