The world changes quickly and packaging trends are no exception.

According to analyst firm Smithers Pira, the total value of the global packaging industry reached $876 billion in 2018 and is expected to top $1 trillion by 2023. MarketWatch identifies the major players in global packaging as familiar names, such as HP, Du Pont, Xerox, and Kodak.

Packaging is still a big deal despite of massive digitalization going on.

Let’s look at the top packaging trends to expect in 2020 and beyond:


Packaging Trend #1: Personalization and Customization

Manufacturers are expected to exploit the better branding opportunities offered by digital printing.

Many companies have already ventured into new branding campaigns (and some of them did so a couple of years ago).

Coca-Cola printed people’s names on soft drink bottles:



Nutella tried something similar:

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Bud Light plastered NFL team logos on cans of beer. Frito-Lay printed faces on bags of potato chips. Oreo, Heinz, Snickers and many other global brands run similar personalized packaging campaigns previously and this trend is likely to continue during 2020.

Digital printing opens up a whole new world of branding opportunities!


Packaging Trend #2: Eco-Friendly Packaging 

Environmentally friendly packaging isn’t new, but with the rising environmental awareness and anti-plastic sentiment, it moves in exciting new directions in 2020.

In fact, plastic’s share in packaging waste is not the biggest among all packaging materials according to Eurostat:

But this does not seem to be changing the consumer’s perception of plastic packaging. Generally, packaging has always been something that caused significant public concern regarding its effect over the environment and sustainability which now turns out to be the major factor for reversing its potential towards stronger marketing messages and better business interests.

Thus, in 2020 eco-friendly packaging looks like a great marketing move for all business types and sizes and one of the hottest trends to follow.

Plastic is out as packaging becomes smaller and “greener”. Brands are actively seeking alternatives to plastic and reduce packaging waste. Online retailers and e-commerce companies are opting for new, more efficient ways to pack and ship orders in branded, eco-friendly packaging.

Another similar 2020 packaging trend is printing inside boxes. Companies pushing for sustainability are taking advantage of inside-the-box printing to remove the need for packing receipts.


Packaging Trend #3: Minimalism, Bold Colors, and Effects

Expect some wild new packaging designs coming your way!

Bold colors and wild special effects not only draw customers in they help establish brands. Packaging Strategies predicts minimalism, powerful pastels, colorful gradients, and bold black-and-white designs will be 2020’s hottest packaging trend.

Many companies are opting for minimalist packaging. Minimalist packaging focuses on the substance of the product and incorporates simple typography and color choices.

Minimalist packaging design example by Yuta Takahashi.

This year manufacturers and package designers are pushing the limits of innovation in almost every single business sector from apples to auto parts. Even road signs have inspired the look of Asarai’s skincare products. Similar trends are expected in 2020.



Packaging Trend #4: Flexible Packaging


If you don’t know what flexible packaging is, you probably haven’t shopped in the frozen food aisle recently. From flash-frozen veggies to Chinese cuisine, nearly all frozen foods come in flexible packaging.


“Flexible packaging has the ability to seal in freshness, taste, and odor. It also occupies less shelf space, offers better graphics and is lighter to ship,” according to Deanna Klemesrud, global marketing director for Flint Group’s packaging inks.

Examples of a new trend in flexible packaging. Source: Perimeter Brand Packaging.

Flexible packaging has spread throughout the supermarket from foldable laundry detergent cartons to packages with clear windows so you can see the products inside.

“A decade ago, flexible packaging was relegated to the snack aisle. But the cost and functional benefits make it one of the fastest-growing packaging markets,” Klemesrud notes.


Packaging Trend #5: Retro Packaging

Consumers of all ages are drawn to kitschy, retro designs. Look for more “old school” packaging and brand characters in 2020. (Where have you gone, Tony The Tiger?)

As the saying goes, everything new is well-forgotten old. Vintage packaging design is making come-back once again, this time coupled with trendy plastic-free and eco-friendly concepts (which makes it even stronger).

Generally, consumers feel more benevolent towards retro packaging because of better familiarity, stronger emotional connection and as a natural result – increased trust. What is more interesting is that retro packaging often comes in environmentally friendly materials and consumers feel strongly sympathetic towards anything that potentially can benefit the environment.

In 2020 mixing these two favorable factors together and leveraging their combined power looks like an amazing idea. Retro/vintage packaging trend is likely to be pretty popular in 2020 and beyond.


Packaging Trend #6: The Rise of Digital Printing

Massive digitalization is still going on in the digital age.

As a natural outcome of this process, the biggest game-changer in the global packaging industry is the rise of digital printing.

As digital printing continues to grow, standard offset printing will lose market share. This downward trend will also affect other traditional forms of packaging, like flexography printing, rotogravure printing, and screen printing.

Digital printing is less expensive and gives manufacturers added flexibility when designing packaging materials. Also, digital printing allows for expanded customization options and on-demand printing.

Small businesses are also taking advantage of the digital printing revolution. When every penny counts, digital printing allows businesses to design and produce certain packaging jobs and promotional materials in-house with simple tools like Canva (or alternatives). Even with side effects such as expensive cartridges (which dry up if you don’t use them enough increasing cost-per-page of on-demand digital printing) and regular equipment maintenance small businesses still prefer digital printing and this trend is likely to rise in the coming years.

Another advantage of digital printing is creating short product runs with a variety of different SKUs. This allows packagers to market test certain packaging designs and focus on niche products.

Corrugated packaging is expected to experience a mass migration to digital printing. According to Ink World magazine, only 1% of corrugated packaging is currently done digitally. Expect that number to skyrocket.


Packaging Trend #7: Living in 3D

Another factor changing the way products are designed and marketed is the use of 3D package design software modeling.

Simply put, 3D modeling software lets you see what your new design will look like before sinking a ton of money into actual packaging.

The use of 3D modeling software has changed the face of package printing and manufacture and will continue to do so in 2020.