Nostalgia buffs, hold on to your pogo sticks – scratch’n’sniff is making a comeback, but this time in the world of packaging. According to research company Mintel’s predictions, smelliness is set to be one of next year’s most exciting packaging trends, along with colour-coded ranges and domestic cleaning products for young adults.
These and other global predictions were ‘brainstormed’ by Mintel employees from around the world, including its director of trends and innovation David Jago.
‘Scratch’n’sniff is so underused, considering that it is excellent fun and a great way of engaging the consumer and gaining a point of differentiation from your competitors,’ he says. So what’s stopping scratch’n’sniff technology – which involves capturing aroma-generating chemicals in tiny plastic spheres that rupture when scratched – from taking over the shelves?
Jago admits that producing scratch’n’sniff is ‘not cheap’, and that the technology is still too crude to make it viable for some major applications.
‘We are not going to see it on ready meals, for instance, because the aromas of, say, a macaroni cheese or a meat pie are way too complex to capture in scratch’n’sniff,’ says Jago.
Elmwood London managing director Elliot Wilson agrees. He says that, while scratch’n’sniff technology could be used on fabric conditioners and ‘other areas where fragrance plays a big role’, applying it to food packaging ‘could be disastrous, since you would do your brand a great disservice if it didn’t quite work’.
Jago’s argument that novelty technologies should, and will, be used more in packaging design stems in part from his observation that packaging is taking on responsibilities traditionally left to advertising.
Sue Daun, head of brand experience at The Brand Union, concurs. She says, ‘Alcohol advertising will eventually be banned, and as that process takes hold, packaging will play a hugely crucial role in communicating with consumers.’ Daun says The Brand Union is working on ‘a number of projects in the technology arena, in which we are going to have to think beyond the box’. She tips augmented reality and barcode-reading with smart phones as big trends for 2010. She earmarks cosmetics as a particularly good canvas for this sort of technology, ‘since you tend to keep the packaging, which is a crucial part of the cosmetics experience’.
WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell recently predicted that western Europe will have an l-shaped, the US a U-shaped and emerging markets a V-shaped recession. As such, Wilson believes Mintel’s global predictions lose accuracy when applied to the UK market.
‘We are still very much in the downturn, and we are working with retailers who believe people’s attitudes to consumer brands have changed forever, away from mass consumption,’ says Wilson.
He believes that consumers ‘confused and disillusioned by the vast choice [on offer]’ are driving product rationalisation. This will eventually result in about four options per product/ the market leader, the number two, a challenger and a supermarket own-brand, he envisages.
Jago concedes that new brands will have to innovate their way into the market. ‘Innocent was born out of the end of the last recession, so, as the economy begins to recover, you will see small start-ups coming up with interesting new lines,’ he says.
Mintel’s 2010 packaging predictions
- Clearer front-of-pack nutrition statements on food packaging will appease the 45% of UK consumers who complain that nutrition labels are cluttered and confusing
- In 2010, grudge items such as cleaning products will be housed in chic, boutique-inspired packaging. Products highlighting simplicity of use will appear, aimed at Generation Y consumers, born between 1977 and 1994
- Colour-coding, such as that used by Glaceau Vitaminwater, will gain popularity to help shoppers make faster choices
Source/ Mintel Consumer Packaged Goods Predictions 2010