Beverage packaging trends bubbling up in the industry

Beverage packaging trends bubbling up in the industry

Written by admin , March 1st, 2016   // Food & Drink

Standing out in an increasingly saturated industry is a concern for beverage manufacturers of all sizes, but simultaneously keeping up with rapidly changing consumer demands intensifies that challenge. Major manufacturers regularly introduce new products while new categories and products from smaller companies disrupt the status quo. The solution for many companies is taking the form of packaging innovations that are changing the way consumers look at soda, beer, juice, and other beverage categories. With smaller packaging sizes, multi-packs, and situational package types, packaging innovations have become the norm for beverage companies looking for new ways to meet consumers’ changing demands and entice them to buy, and that will continue to be a major trend for the industry in 2016.

Reducing size, not profits

One packaging innovation gaining traction is mini-cans and mini-bottles. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo recently reported sales declines for soda volumes in larger packaging but sales boosts for smaller packaging, like 7.5-ounce mini-cans and 8-ounce mini-bottles. This type of packaging will be the way companies “reinvent” the soda business in the coming year, Sandy Douglas, president of Coca-Cola North America, said at a conference last year. Soda companies have multiple reasons for downsizing their packaging. Increased profitability in exchange for convenience is a given, but soda companies are also contending with nationwide soda tax proposals and recommendations from the WHO, FDA, and 2015 Dietary Guidelines that consumers limit their sugar intake, which soda is notorious for containing. “As you downsize packaging, you’re realizing, especially on the sugar side of things, people want to limit their intake of (sugar), but they still want a Coke,” Brian Reed, principal of market structure at IRI Worldwide, told Food Dive. “They just don’t want a lot of Coke. So an 8-ounce can is a perfect way to keep Coke in people’s hands but at the level that they want so they don’t substitute an energy drink or small bottle of juice or something else for that.” Smaller packaging will be more common among larger manufacturers rather than smaller soda makers because larger companies tend to be more flexible in their ability to change up their packaging in terms of capital and production capabilities, Reed said. “The larger manufacturers are really good at matching up who needs what, when, and they will develop packaging to fit that need state,” said Reed.

Getting the right count

Major beer manufacturers are experimenting with the quantity of individual products in multi-packs of various sizes. In this case, manufacturers tend to match up packaging more to the type and availability of shelf space in different configurations offered by varying retailer types, such as grocery stores versus drug or convenience stores, Reed said.

Manufacturers also change up pricing for multi-packs in different outlets.

“I can sell a 15-pack at Walgreens and a 12-pack at a grocery store for different prices, and it’ll be different to discern that,” said Reed. “A lot of that is the outlet, but (manufacturers) are also getting to who needs what and how many and which package type as well. They are doing it for some profit reasons, but a lot of it is to provide retailers with packaging that’s specific to the needs they serve.”

The sampler pack

Also coming to market are sampler packs, especially in the beer category, though this trend tends to be more common among craft beer producers than major beer manufacturers, according to Reed. Craft brewers tend to produce several varieties they can package together in one multi-pack, whereas that might not be the case for an Anheuser-Busch InBev or MillerCoors. “(Craft brewers) have multiple flavours, and they want you to try a new flavour, so they’ll give you a 12-pack which has four bottles of three different flavours,” said Reed. “They’re pretty good at that, because their mission is, they’ve got a variety of different things, where a Bud or a Bud Light, they’re not going to do that.”

A package for every situation

Instead of offering a variety of flavours, major beer manufacturers are more likely to introduce a variety of packaging types. Bottles and cans can come in a range of sizes, and bottles themselves may be long or short necks, like Miller Lite’s steinie bottles briefly reintroduced last year, or they can be made of glass versus aluminium—it all depends on the situation in which consumers want to drink it. Cans and bottles, for example, can differ significantly from a situational perspective, according to Reed. “Bottles tend to be more at-home or in my everyday kind of living. Cans tend to be much more portable—I’m going to tailgate, camping, somewhere else,” said Reed. “(Manufacturers) recognize that the configurations need to be different based on those situations when (consumers) are using the product.”

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