Millennials transform packaging landscape

As the first people to have never known a world before the internet existed, millennials are a unique generation. Identified by market research firms as digitally native, narcissistic and individualistic, the factors that influence their consumption habits are transforming the packaging landscape.

A desire to “experience” the things they buy distinguishes millennials from the status-craving spenders of older generations. Interacting with products on an emotional level gives them more satisfaction than owning a premium brand. And a higher regard for the state of the planet means a company’s social responsibility is impacting purchasing decisions at an unprecedented level.

These evolving demographics are changing the way brands produce and market for consumers, driving new packaging innovations that serve lifestyles dominated by smartphones, social media and a need to express environmental awareness.

“The millennials are changing the world and generation Z are set to follow the same path,” says Tim Eaves, chief executive and co-founder of Quadpack, a leader in cosmetics packaging. “Their social networks are their lifeblood and it’s important to understand the intuitive gestures that are second nature to them. They lean towards sustainable concepts like refillable packaging, recycled materials and reduced packaging content, and see through greenwashing.

“Packaging that draws on these habits will be a natural fit. Fixed processes will be uprooted and packagers must learn to be flexible, act fast and offer more options than ever, while acting in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.”

Beauty brands are racing to implement smart packaging solutions that satisfy the selfie habits of millennials, meaning smaller sizes and leak-proof protection for portability, as well as integrated applicators and convenient two or three-in-one packs. Meanwhile, products that incorporate an interesting gesture, a skincare ritual, a fun shape or eye-popping aesthetics increase consumer engagement.

We are ready and prepared for what is sure to be an exciting future

The desire for self-expression is also propelling demand for personalisation in beauty packaging. Retail stores increasingly offer personalised skincare formulas that are mixed in front of customers following on-the-spot skincare tests. In online stores, consumers can customise products with texts and select unique designs, while modular packaging concepts enable customers to build their own colour palettes.

Quadpack is working to address this new world of packaging with a flexible business model that meets the individual needs of each segment of the beauty industry. “We work on different approaches to personalisation,” says Mr Eaves, “developing ways to print packs individually and offering modular systems, such as eye colour compacts that can be stacked in the same way as LEGO bricks.”

The company has an in-house design team which tracks trends and identifies smart solutions that anticipate demand, aided by its skincare, make-up and fragrance specialists. Its manufacturing division gives the designers the capability to experiment with concepts in plastic materials at Quadpack Plastics, its injection moulding plant, with new decoration techniques at Quadpack Impressions, its decoration facility, and with wood designs at Technotraf Wood Packaging, which Quadpack acquired in 2013. It also works with manufacturing partners to enhance its product portfolio.

As wood, when managed correctly, is the only endlessly renewable material, Quadpack is a passionate advocate for its use in beauty packaging. In 2001, Technotraf was the first company to use wood for a perfume cap. Its PEFC and FSC-certified factory uses wood from sustainably managed forests, and all manufacturing waste is reused for animal bedding, biofuel and chipboard.

Meanwhile, Quadpack is trialling rail transportation as a low-carbon alternative to air freight. And last year it formed the Quadpack Foundation, a charitable arm dedicated to supporting social, educational and environmental programmes with an emphasis on integrating young people from underprivileged backgrounds.

“With a robust plan for business growth, an in-house ‘design factory’, our hybrid manufacturing-sourcing setup, our sector-focused approach and our corporate social responsibility programme, we are ready and prepared for what is sure to be an exciting future,” says Mr Eaves. “Businesses are not separate from the world and each one should play an active part in helping to make it a great place to live, work and play.”

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