What are the new trends in folding carton packaging (unit cartons) and how can your company benefit?

The latest trends in the packaging industry are making folding cartons an ever more attractive solution.

One of the key advantages of folding cartons has always been economy, flexibility of design, and speed of production. They are printed, converted, and glued at high speeds. And because they ship flat, freight costs are lower.

New Opportunities and Trends in Folding Carton Packaging

There are five new trends in the folding carton industry that are opening new opportunities:

  1. The opportunity to save money in package printing and fulfillment costs.
  2. The opportunity to satisfy consumer demand for sustainable products and packaging and in turn, sell more product at higher margins.
  3. The opportunity to make marketing campaigns more trackable and effective.

Here are the trends that can make this work for your company’s product packaging.

1 – Sustainability

There is a growing demand for packaging materials that are environmentally friendly. Many companies are choosing paperboard packaging because it is a renewable resource and can be recycled several times.

Various studies show that demand from consumers for eco-friendly products is growing.

A First Insight study on The Sustainability Disconnect Between Consumers & Retail Executives, quoted in this Forbes article, found that since their last survey in 2019, Gen X consumers preference to shop sustainable brands grew by 25%. Their willingness to pay more grew by 42%.

They also found that two-thirds of consumers across all generations are willing to spend more for sustainable products. However, two-thirds of retail executives believe consumers will not pay more. This discrepancy means that those companies who embrace sustainability stand to profit from the trend.

Zero-waste packaging is also an ongoing trend. The Zero Waste International Alliance defines “zero waste packaging” as

“The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.”

In short, the goal is to recycle as much packaging and product as possible.

These trends are a significant opportunity for companies who are willing to incorporate sustainable boards and other eco-friendly material in their product packaging.

You can read more in this related article on The Latest Sustainable Product Packaging Strategies for eCommerce and Retail Brands.

2 – The customer product packaging experience

How does the end-user feel about the experience of receiving and opening your product packaging?

Consumers have high expectations.

  • They expect the packaging to protect the product and for both to be free from damage
  • They want to know they’re buying from an environmentally friendly company
  • They don’t want to struggle to open the package
  • They prefer an easy return process
  • They want a memorable experience. Witness the popularity of unboxing videos of all types of products including phones, games, toys, shoes, food, and more.

Companies that respond to consumer expectations have the competitive advantage.

For example, which product box below do you think would get a better response from consumers?

product packaging experience in folding cartons

3 – Trends in e-commerce packaging

The continuing rise of e-commerce has led to a trend towards packaging designs that are suitable for online shopping and home delivery. This includes the use of lightweight materials and packaging designs that protect products during transit.

Return-ready mailers are another innovation. Nike designed a return-ready shoebox that cuts packaging waste by 51% compared to the normal “box within a box” method of shipping. It also allows consumers to re-use the box for returns, if needed.

4 – Digital printing and enhanced customization

Advances in digital printing of folding cartons presents another significant opportunity. Digital print technology allows for short print runs and more customization than ever before. Shorter runs deliver significant savings in warehousing and tied up capital.

Enhanced customization also makes product packaging more effective through better customer attraction and conversion, in both brick-and-mortar and ecommerce environments.

With variable data, companies can personalize packaging. One famous example is Coca-Cola which started printing customer names on bottles and cans.

Digital printing also makes product segmentation and versioning easy and affordable. For example, companies with many different versions of a product can produce cartons with version-specific labeling, QR codes, or bar codes for flavors, varieties, colors, SKUs or various promotion campaign codes.

The short-run, fast turnaround ability of digital print packaging also makes just-in-time manufacturing possible for nearly any company.

5 – Optimizing folding carton design

By optimizing the design of their folding cartons, companies can minimize material waste and reduce costs. The goal of right-size packaging design is to minimize material without sacrificing product protection or branding.

To accomplish this a good packaging company, such as Clear Print, uses structural design tools and will provide free CAD-cut samples to ensure the carton will fit the product and protect it well.

An optimized design not only maximizes consumer appeal and expectations, but can reduce printing, shipping and fulfillment costs.

How to Take Advantage of These Trends in Folding Carton Packaging

There are several things you can do to take advantage of these opportunities and to streamline the process of ordering product packaging.

Clearly define your packaging needs

List your packaging requirements from design through to the end user.

Bring your product to a good folding carton (unit carton) supplier and they’ll help you determine the size, shape, material, print and finish options plus other enhancements, such as foil and embossing. They can also help you reduce fulfillment costs and some, such as Clear Print, will provide special shipping and mailing options.

Work with a proven supplier

Look for suppliers who offer the type of packaging you need and have a solid reputation for quality and customer service throughout the process and on-time deliveries.

Read reviews

Look for online reviews or ask for references from the supplier to get a sense of their reliability and the quality of their products.

Consider the lead time

Consider the lead time for the packaging, as it can vary greatly depending on paperboard availability and the complexity of the order.

Get quotes and understand your purchase terms

Don’t forget to consider the total cost of the packaging, including any additional fees for customization or shipping.

Ask questions about payment and delivery with the supplier before you place the order.

How to Get a Folding Carton Quote

To find out how to best take advantage of these opportunities and help your product packaging succeed, call us at 818-709-1220. Or submit a quote here to get started.

Published On: February 13th, 2023 / Categories: Folding Cartons /