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Six Consumer Trends That Will Drive Packaging

The economy, women's rights, and the emergence of Gen Z should influence packaging decisions in 2023.

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With 2023 now fully in gear, Euromonitor International released its Top Ten Consumer Trends for 2023. Always a factor in packaging, in recent years, consumer buying habits have taken the first chair regarding how CPGs and retailers operate. Six of the trends directly impact the world of packaging, and as you’ll read, some could shake up entire product lines.

Authentic automation

As buying power gets younger, with the dominant demographic now Millennials and 65 percent of the U.S. population falling between 15-64, most consumers accept and embrace automation as part of their everyday life. Machines make convenience and speed possible, but the power of emotional connections shouldn’t be underestimated. Consumers want to interact with humans and machines for different reasons and at specific points in the path to purchase. CPGs must focus on improving the buyer’s journey, offering curated packages that reflect customers’ preferences. For OEMs, that means CPGs require investment in automation to reduce costs, optimize operations and maximize efficiencies. 

Budgeteers

Breaking news: Economic shocks, record-high inflation, and supply shortages continue to drive up the cost of living. The “when to spend vs. when to save” is a dilemma facing most consumers, often pushing brand loyalty aside. Private-label and “store-brand” products will rise in use, stealing market share from traditional category leaders.

In 2022, the number one reason buyers shopped online was overwhelming to get the best price. E-commerce continues to grow even more, with consumers turning to online shopping to reduce personal transportation expenses. CPGs also feel the pinch as shrinking profit margins lead to SKU rationalization, updated pricing strategies, and supply chain optimization. CPGs will seek new formulations of product bundles and direct-to-consumer models to help deliver savings while retaining customers.

Here and now

This trend appears to run counter to the previous one and requires some nuance to unpack. Euromonitor claims consumers are permitting themselves to “live a little” regarding discretionary items. They’re not abandoning financial responsibility, but after a tough couple of years during the pandemic, “sparking joy” with spontaneous purchases is a bona fide trend. CPGs can take advantage of this in a number of ways with limited-time or exclusive items that entice shoppers to buy on a whim. Packaging plays a crucial role in selling that product at first glance when stakes between the consumer and product are at their highest.

Sustainable by default

Going green has never looked so good. Decreased consumption and spending are increasing sustainability by proxy as consumers switch to energy-saving products, continue eating at home, and limit travel as fuel costs rise. Less than one-fifth of consumers would pay more for household essentials with sustainable features in 2022. However, market dynamics spurred green activities like repairing, secondhand shopping, and renting. For CPGs, this is the circular economy’s time to shine. “Reduce, reuse, and recycle” have never looked as good to consumers as it does now, and packages need to reflect this to capture a suddenly willing audience. 

She rises

Female shoppers requiring fair representation and equality reads like common sense, but in the past couple of years, brands have realized that females now rightfully demand it. Limited product ranges or primary non-gender-specific offerings won’t cut it. They buy from brands that advocate for the cause and personalize products to their size, age, or life stage, all factors that impact packaging. CPGs and supplement manufacturers can develop products that target nutritional demands during pregnancy, postpartum, or menopause, as a few examples. 

Young and Disrupted

Gen Z now represents 25 percent of the population. A population shaped during its formative years by pandemic and unrest, Gen Zers are resilient but have higher expectations. CPGs need to be transparent, honest, and relatable, with packaging that communicates these traits. Young and disrupted consumers aren’t inherently loyal and can’t be treated like transactions. They must clearly see the value in their brand interactions to become repeat buyers.

 

 

 

 

 

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