Mintel, Chicago, highlighted six packaging trends set to make an impact on global dairy packaging markets over the year.

Digital evolution
Digital printing is capturing brands’ attention by creating opportunities to engage consumers on a local, “hyper-”personal and even emotional level. With nearly one-quarter of Chinese consumers indicating they would pay more for personalized soft drink packaging, digital printing is positioned to grow well beyond industry estimates. In 2016, the market will experience the tipping point for digital package printing, as brands move beyond using it for limited editions and personalization, and capitalize on its economic and speed-to-market advantages for mainstream package decoration.

Show me the goods
With the growing number of on-pack claims competing for shoppers’ attention, consumers are demanding more information about what they are really buying, but seeking less on-pack clutter that confuses purchasing decisions. This is why clear and concise information about ingredients, functional product attributes and safety must be communicated with total transparency. Looking ahead, the concepts of clean labeling and clear on-pack communication are set to converge.

Phenomenal flexibles
No longer is flexible packaging (specifically pouches) considered a tradeoff. Almost one-third (32%) of consumers associate flexible packaging with being modern, and brands are tapping into flexibles’ nearly unparalleled marketing opportunities. But, at what point will flexible packaging, especially pouches, become non-differentiated? Truly innovative brands will be looking to the next generation of rigid/flexible hybrids that offer functional and environmental benefits alongside great shelf presence.

More than “just” green packaging  
Despite brands’ best efforts, package recycling is well below its potential. What’s more, 63% of U.S. consumers stated that reusable and re-purposable packaging is a key purchasing driver. Going forward, when product price and perceived product quality are equal, consumers will be increasingly turning to these eco- and alternative-use attributes as the deciding purchasing factor. Therefore, brands cannot afford to ignore this, as they develop their brand positioning and marketing strategies.

Size matters
American families are seeking value in larger container sizes for milk. And, Millennials, who are driving snacking and new flavor trends, desire options in small sizes to try out new flavors and to fit their on-the-go lifestyles. What’s more, 50% of health-conscious snackers say they would be willing to try a new product if it comes in a small, trial-size pack. In 2016, brands must deliver packaging that consumers see as right-sized for themselves and shifting use-occasions in order to overcome the growing lack of brand loyalty.

Packaging “mobil-ution” 
There’s a revolution happening in mobile-engaged packaging. Unlike the previous generation that included clunky QR and text codes, this time around, brand owners are tapping near-field communication (NFC) and Bluetooth low energy (BLE) as primary engagement technologies. Moving forward, as brands clamor for innovative ways to engage with shoppers, the mobile environment will become the new front line in the battle to win consumers’ hearts, minds and wallets.