Retail sourcing for packaging materials increasingly based on consumer research

With the wide availability of customer purchasing and demographic data accessible to manufacturers, they can now design their products based directly on current market analysis. The result is more sustainability efforts and more consumer research driving decisions in retail sourcing for packaging materials. Packing industry professionals gave their opinion and insights on the future technologies and trends of the industry in Packaging Digest.

More sustainable sourcing from plant-based materials

One of the growing trends expected in retail packaging is the increase of sustainable sourcing from plant-based raw materials, said Nina Goodrich, director of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. SPC works to create systems through supplier collaboration and outreach, according to its website. While manufacturers have typically used corn and sugarcane in making packaging products, they can also be made from non-food materials.

"New technologies have emerged to concentrate the sugars from these feedstocks locally before shipping for additional processing," said Goodrich. "These technologies are enabling significant cost reductions in these new feedstock opportunities (agricultural waste, forest waste, municipal solid waste)."

Goodrich also predicts more availability of new and hybrid polymers for fabrics made with increased heat resistance and made partially from algae.

More emphasis on consumer research

As retailers and manufacturers attempt to meet demand, they will concentrate more on research to how new advancements in packaging can improve consumers' lives. Director of design strategy at Sterling-Rice Group Jen Jones said customers are shifting from packaging that employs traditional graphics and designs to those that provide a helpful function through innovation, which she calls "Fantastic Forms."

"Fantastic Forms is about brands packaging their products in unique forms that that solve problems, serve consumers' needs and add a new level of appeal to differentiate on shelf," Jones said.

By addressing the needs of buyers through consumer research and current market analysis, manufacturers can better increase demand for their products.

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