2018 Consumer Packaging Trends to Watch

2018 Consumer Packaging Trends to Watch

The overarching trend in consumer packaging development is “make life easier for everyone.”

digital packaging, intelligent packaging, smart packaging, connected packaging

Everyone means the consumer, the packaging supply chain, the brand client, the Omni-channel retailer, the environment and the MRF.

To help define what “making life easier” means for your brand, ask these questions at your next team meeting:

“What consumer packaging conversation does our brand own?”


“What consumer packaging conversation do we want our brand to own”


“What consumer packaging conversation do our competitors own”.

Good conversation starters.

Because packaging matters, I’ve prepared 2018 consumer packaging trends to help you kick off 2018:

Trend #1 – How To Recycle

According to the City of Toronto Solid Waste Management Services memo dated November 2017, “Contaminated recycling is currently costing the city millions annually and last year more than 52,000 tonnes of non-recyclable material was incorrectly put in the Blue Bin.”

That’s just one city.

Did you know? Green Blue’s How2Recycle label is gaining traction in the USA. Everyday retail and product brands in North America are joining the How2Recycle effort by adding How2Recycle symbols on packaging that help consumers make good, informed end-of-life decisions for packaging.

Implication: Packaging and recycling are getting well-deserved attention from consumers every day. To help consumers make end-of-life decisions, make room for an end-of-life recycling symbol on-pack.

The Flexible bag packaging segment continues to grow, supported by consumer demand in certain FMCG categories. When developing flexible bags, keep it simple! The last thing you want to learn is that the flexible bag your product is packaged in goes to landfill in most markets. (And consumers start calling your 1 800 # for answers.) Control the outcome by writing the specification with your designer and package printer. Get informed!

Trend #2 –  Limited Edition Packaging

According to IPSOS, dinner continues to be an unplanned event. Did you know that 56% of dinner decisions are “day of” events?

To help consumers decide what’s for dinner, consumer brands continue to step up.

Campbell’s Soup made a 2018 prediction that Limited Edition Innovation will continue to trend. Walk your neighborhood food aisle and you will see new and seasonal LE products influenced by acculturation trends. Acculturation continues to put a global spin online extensions and new product innovation targeted at busy families. In 2017, McCormick announced their flavour forecast at SIAL in Toronto emphasizing the acculturation theme and trend. Consumers are integrating global tastes into their diet and they like it! Line extensions are thriving!

The implication for the packaging supply chain: Short run print jobs are the lifeline of LE food and beverage products. Help your client brand sell more product with appetite appeal photography and illustration. The lifestyle image on packaging panels accompanied by flavour cues inspires consumers. Make it look delicious!

Trend #3 –  #ComeClean

SB258 Cleaning Product Right to Know Act is a win for all consumers, not just Californians. It’s an ingredient disclosure act that is supported by industry and environmental advocates.

Did you hear? On October 15, 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown signed California Senate Bill (S.B.) 258, the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act of 2017. The act requires manufacturers of cleaning products to disclose certain chemical ingredients (including fragrance mixtures) on the product label and on the manufacturer’s website by 2020.  The law makes California the very first state to declare ingredients in commercial and residential cleaners on packaging and websites.

Implications for the Packaging Community: Learn more about this legislation as it unfolds. While it is currently California-based, as you know, this type of legislation scales. Help your brand clients bring it to life! Follow #comeclean to learn more.

Trend #4 – Automate!

Automation tools are a must-have for every marketer that creates, reviews and approves artwork. Thanks to the digital evolution, designers, printers and pre-press houses are jumping on board with online tools that save time, money and reduce design change risks.

Implications: Did you know? If you do not offer online tools to clients, you may not check all the boxes on the next client RFP. Help make life easier for busy marketers. Get automated! They want it. Yes, it adds cost. It’s really an investment. A time-saving and risk lowering investment.

Trend #5 –  Thank you for calling!

1 800 tips: If your customer service team has not yet been asked by consumers about product packaging layers, this could be the year. Consumers want to know, “is this packaging recyclable? Is this packaging sustainable?” Train your client services team to give informative responses to consumer inquiries. Most customer service teams say they will get back to consumers, but they don’t. Or they fall short on the answers.

Well, that’s a wrap! I hope you enjoyed reading my top 5 trends to watch in 2018.

How is your brand responding to these trends?

Need help?

Karen Blumel Consulting is a firm that specializes in consumer packaging innovation and development. I leverage over 15 years of consumer packaging leadership and expertise to help your team develop better consumer packaging.

I’d like to help YOU make better product packaging.

The consumer, the packaging supply chain, the brand client, the Omni-channel retailer, the environment and the MRF. These are the stakeholders in your packaging decisions.

Let’s get started! Reach out for a consultation today:


Be well,




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