Over 240 international packaging manufacturers and suppliers descended on Manhattan’s Pier 92 last week for Luxe Pack New York, billed by organizers as “the premier show for creative packaging.” The two-day trade show looks at the latest trends and innovations in packaging across beauty, fragrance, food and beverage, fashion, jewelry and more.

Key trends this year included personalized packaging on a mass level, raw materials moving from trend to market, and the rise of niche brands.

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Image courtesy of UBRProd
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Image courtesy of UBRProd
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Luxe Pack New York 2016. Image courtesy of UBRProd

Mass individualization

Consumer demand for customized products and experiences is on the rise. In a SONAR™ survey for our forthcoming retail report, Frontier(less) Retail, we found that 66% of US millennials (age 18–34) and 62% of UK millennials said they would be more likely to visit a physical store if it offered an interactive experience to select or customize a product.

Separately, a 2015 Deloitte survey found that 43% of 16–24 year olds and 46% of 25–30 year olds were attracted to personalized goods and services, and 71% say they are willing to pay for this at a premium price.

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Share a Coke labels printing at Hewlett Packard
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“Increasingly, packaging is about personalization,” says Nathalie Grosdidier, general manager of Luxe Pack. “You can see this through all the niche brands, niche fragrance, skincare, etc. emerging everywhere. Consumers want to find the exact brand that fits to them.”

Digital print is a hot topic for the packaging industry, allowing individualized mass print-runs at competitive prices. Doris Brown-McNally, worldwide brands business development manager of Hewlett Packard, presented the strengths of HP’s Indigo digital printer with a varied portfolio of brand examples. These ranged from mass brands such as Coca-Cola, whose “Share a Coke” campaign involved approximately 800 million personalized labels with 150 different names; to small, fast-growing brands such as New York’s Death Wish Coffee, which has used digital prints to position itself as a major player in the industry.

“Inviting fans to have personalized packaging becomes advertising,” says Brown-McNally. Consumers “share the products on social media and this extends the marketing reach.”

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Oreo Colorfilled
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Oreo’s Colorfilled campaign invited consumers to create their own packaging for the product by digitally coloring in predesigned illustrations, which were then individually printed and shipped. Cindy Chen, global head of e-commerce at Oreo manufacturer Mondelez International, said the campaign was part of a larger strategy for growing Mondelez’s e-commerce revenue to $1 billion by 2020.

Digital printing is not limited to paper and plastics. Family-owned glass manufacturer Heinz-Glas uses digital print on their glass bottles to imitate raw materials including leather, slate and wood. “All the raw materials have lived through a digital revolution thanks to digital printing,” comments Grosdidier.

“With digital print, brands can strategize and think of how to look from regional perspectives,” says Brown-McNally. This is globalization meets personalization.

Raw materials

This year’s LuxePack New York saw more examples of raw materials used in packaging, including wood, stone and ceramics. “You couldn’t see that 10 years ago,” Grosdidier says. “This was a trend a few years ago, but now you see raw materials used for products that are now on the market. It’s a reality.”

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From cap droppers to the entire bottle, manufacturers are exploring the potential of using raw materials to add tactility and sophistication. Family-owned manufacturer Virospack incorporated wood in its latest range of cosmetic droppers for an “organic finish.”

Pujolasos, the Spanish luxury packaging company, presented a range of wood packaging at the company’s debut Luxe Pack New York appearance, while US-based Quality Resourcing Services (QRS) showcased a ceramic fragrance diffuser called At Home.

Niche beauty

At this year’s Luxe Pack grounds, packaging manufacturers were showing off creative designs made for smaller, independent brands, rather than focusing on work done for the usual big names. “The indie brand is becoming the new norm,” says Jamie Ross, creative director at Doneger Creative Services. “They are creating a lot of competition.”

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Divine Duo collection by Lilah B

Ross gave a presentation looking at luxury trends that will impact consumers in two to five years, and said that consumer models were changing. “Indie brands that are coming out can be a lot nimbler than the bigger players,” Ross said.

For example, Tyra Banks’ Tyra Beauty launched in October 2014 and has over 14 different products on sale. Rodan + Fields was first developed in 2002 by two Stanford educated dermatologists, and had a reported revenue of $626.9 million in 2015.

Niche beauty brands are using uniquely shaped packaging to stand out from the crowd. Lilah B cosmetics, founded in 2015, aims to “make beauty simple” and adopts a playful, minimalist aesthetic with its sleek and compact pebble-shaped container. “They do a wonderful job of playing into sectors that we are familiar with such as fashion, interiors and other areas which encompass minimalism,” Ross said.

Australian haircare brand Kevin. Murphy uses a distinct slab shape container with different angular cuts and a well-curated color palette so the products also work well as a collection.

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