A quick trip to a grocery store reveals a trend in plastic packaging that is impossible to ignore. Travel-sized or single-serving pouches, pods, blister packs, sachets and trial bottles are taking over the shelves, a phenomenon especially apparent in the food, cosmetic and drug aisles.
The impetus behind this trend is multi-faceted. The average person’s day is much busier and faster paced than ever before, and the idea of portable, on-the-go packaging appeals to those who are in constant motion.
Also, with the rising popularity of healthy living comes the need for portion control, which can easily be accommodated by smaller portions sealed in travel-sized containers.
Smaller packages also are a cost-effective option for budget-conscious shoppers and those who live by themselves. Economy packaging may save money in terms of cost per unit, but the initial price can still be high and many shoppers prefer to buy only enough for their current needs.
Many different industries are seeing increased sales from smaller packaging offerings in a range of products.
According to PMMI’s (Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies) Food Packaging Trends & Advances, 2016 Edition, food manufacturers are rethinking their packaging options to service one- and two-person households with grab-and-go, ready-to-eat servings.
Innovations in food-industry market segments include:
Cosmetic manufacturers are also developing single-use pods, capsules, sachets and trial-sized bottles, according to BeautyPackaging.com’s “Portable Size Packaging Captures Beauty Care Consumer On-The-Go.” Examples include masks and skin creams designed to sell in newly tapped venues including vending machines and transportation hubs.
Other novel uses for smaller package sizes include subscription-based services such as FabFitFun or Birchbox, which ship personalized gift boxes of trial-sized beauty products to subscribers each month. The popularity of monthly gift club subscriptions is skyrocketing.
The over-the-counter drug industry is also turning out more travel-sized drug options than ever before. Small blister packs of four to eight doses are becoming a more familiar sight in drug stores and near the checkout counters in grocery and convenience stores.
Finally, innovators are using the travel-sized package trend as a jumping off point for new products that don’t fit neatly into any pre-existing industry. For instance, Le Whiff uses small, single-use containers called Aeroshots® to deliver an inhaled dose of chocolate-flavored air (calorie free!).
Manufacturers of plastic packaging who jump on the travel-sized bandwagon now can profit by meeting consumer demands.
In an article in Packaging Digest, Mondelēz International innovator Gil Horsky discusses key trends in the world of snacking and travel-size products.
The modern customer is much more health savvy than his or her predecessors, Horsky says. Consumers, especially Millennials, are looking for functional ingredients that promote health and energy and/or fight disease. Packaging must reflect those elements as well as cater to various common health conditions or food intolerances/allergies.
Shoppers are looking for more than just snacks and servings. Packaging that can turn a simple, quick meal into a custom experience and social activity can capitalize on consumers’ desires for novelty, personalization and social enjoyment.
Snack manufacturers would do well to develop fast, interesting and inexpensive single-serving products packaged in containers designed to garner interest wherever on-the-go consumers spend the majority of their time.
Packaging Strategies also highlights several important statistical points for packaging manufacturers to consider in its September 2016 article, “Food & Beverage Packaging Disrupting The Shelves:”
PlasticsMarketWatch.org sums up the current trend of travel-sized packaging in its 2015 “Plastics Packaging Wraps It Up” publication by saying, “Millennials are looking for healthy and convenient food and beverages that come in packages that are easily opened and resealed for later use, and that feature recyclability and other green qualities.
“Plastics packaging should continue to prove especially utile for food packaging. In addition to consumer appeal, packaging has a job to do. Over the decades, our food systems have become increasingly industrialized, where food is produced on a mass scale and shipped for thousands of miles, often across international borders.
“Food safety and freshness are considered crucially important for all U.S. generations, and plastic packaging has proven to be the best material for moving food from farm or factory to consumer.”
Plastic packaging manufacturers looking to develop innovative travel-sized packaging solutions, whether for the food and beverage, cosmetics, drug or any other industry, should consider a full-service team of laboratory technicians, product marketing specialists and regulatory affairs experts.
Plastics Color’s Solutions Center provides professional guidance for color matching, plastic compounding, laboratory services and quality compliance (drug master files available). Polymers can be uniquely formulated to fit any demand. Plastics Color’s wide selection of additives for plastics include functional additives, MiBatch anti-counterfeiting additives, FlamaSol® flame-retardant compounds, scent additives and visually stunning metallic, pearlescent and glitter additives.
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