"Convenience is not a plus anymore, but a must in all distribution channels, includingluxury" said Innovative Consulting, which conducted an industry-wide survey for release at the Emballage exhibition. "Well thought products to be consumed both inside and outside the home,simple and pleasant to use and to stock, light to carry and if possible, eco-friendly are expectedeven in the high-end markets."
The analyst found that packaging trends are being driven by the increasing number of new productsbeing introduced on the market each year. For example 81,507 new food and beverage products wereintroduced worldwide in 2004, compared to 55,000 in 2002.
In the non-food categories, about 200,000 new products were introduced between 2002 and June2005, with cosmetics accounting for one-third of the introductions. The increasing competition forspace and attention means impact, differentiation and a capacity to create desire are the mainchallenges for the packaging industry to meet, said Innovative in releasing the survey results.
"Because of the growing number of new products, the need to emerge from the clutter iskey," said Innovative. "Successful packagings in this context are the simple and memorable ones, those that appear as a self-evidence, often using primary colours anddesign, such as the CC wave, the violet pack of Milka, the green bottle of Fructis."
The analyst conducted 20 interviews with designers, manufacturers, sociologists, distributors andresearchers in France Germany the UK, the US, Japan and Korea for the survey.
Innovative found that the emerging trends continue to be an increase in convenience packaging thatprovides additional functionality, such as for single-serve products, dual compartments and resealableclosures.
The drive toward more portability in packaging reflects an on-the-go society, and has led to new package forms, especially inthe beverages markets but also in cosmetics. Such packaging includes those that allow processors to offer consumers a combined snack and drink in one product, for example.
Health and wellness expectations from consumers are also starting to heavily influence packaging,resulting in products that include microwave steam cooking technologies and packs, to caps that release vitamins, to the "bulk-like" approach based on transparency and small labels to show the freshness and naturalness of the product.
A recent study conducted by IPSOS Public Affairs in the US found that 34 per cent of consumersranked freshness as the most important factor when it comes to food packaging, ahead of the 24 percent who ranked price higher.
"There is a growing trend towards 'product is the king' in which the product appears almost'nude' and intact like if the manufacturer's intervention was almost none," Innovativestated.
Packagers are also using pre-industrial, nostalgic designs in a bid to arouse consumer desire bycreating realistic and warm images that whet consumers' appetite. This is especially true of premium foodproducts, said Innovative.
Meanwhile customisation of product is becoming a mandatory response to the fragmentation of lifestyles andtargets.
Innovative found as "surprising" that environmental concerns seem less top of the agenda for the professionals than they are for the leading edge consumer groups.
Except in the Nordic and Germanic countries, the current posture being taken by manufacturers is more reactive thanpro-active, Innovative found. Manufacturers are reacting under the pressure of consumers, politicians or economic constraints.One example is the move by Walmart to switch from petroleum to corn-based plastic containers at atime when oil prices are jumping to record levels.
"This situation will certainly evolve in the years to come as consumer or institutional pressure willincrease," Innovative said.
One failing by the industry is its tepid response to designing packaging for Internetsales.
"In spite of the complexity of motivations regarding the e-commerce -- from price-driven and functional to luxury andemotional -- and its spectacular progression, it seems that the packaging domain has not yet fully embraced the new challenges of the internetdistribution," Innovative said.
Such challenges include the need for simpler, not so bulky, and more economic and environmentally friendly packs for transportation, more luxurious packs for high-end purchases or specific design approach for the new brands created on theInternet.
Emballage opened in Paris on 20 November, with about 2,200 companies exhibiting packaging and processing machines to food, drink, cosmetics and pharmaceutical companies.
About 53 per cent of the exhibiting companies are from outside France, compared to 50 per cent in2004.
"This development is in particular driven by the growing participation of companies from Eastern Europesuch as Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovakia Republic, Romania, Russia, Slovenia and theUkraine. International growth is also being driven from the Middle East with participants comingfrom Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
The attendance is also getting internationalised. Two years ago the bi-annual Emballage attracted 108,000 visitors,of which 35 per cent were from outside France. About 29 per cent of the visitors were from the foodmarkets, 11 per cent in the pharmaceutical and health sectors and 10 per cent in the cosmetics,beauty and luxury goods manufacturing.
This year, about 450 new products, such as machines, packages and containers, and software, wereshown by exhibitors. About half of them were displayed for the first time.
Emballage runs along side the IPA World Food Process Exhibition.