I have been plagued by a disruption of my internet connection for more than 7 days. That fact defied me to post about the Pack Expo Las Vegas 2011, which opened its doors at the Las Vegas Convention Center Monday Sept. 26. As the largest and most important packaging exhibition of North America run till Sept. 28, it is now too late to write about it as a visitor. May I advice my readers, who are interested in what more than 1,600 exhibitors from 25 countries showed, to go to “Live From Pack Expo” by the Packaging World . You can find them here: Day One, Day Two/Three.
Ahead of the exhibition, Pack Expo producer PMMI (Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute) challenged the design community to envision how packaging will drive consumer purchasing decisions a decade from now by inviting package designers and developers to submit their ideas of what consumers will see on retail shelves in the year 2020.
The Future of Package Design
Ten innovative concepts were chosen and featured as part of “Project 2020: The Consumer Experience” and were on display in The Brand Zone.
Here 5 of the most interesting concepts (in my opinion). While describing the finalist concept, I take the liberty to comment.
Multi-Purpose Sunscreen Bottle
Multi-chamber bottles are becoming very popular and we have seen several brilliant solutions for various consumer brands and we will see many more multi-chambers packaging, and not only in bottles, in the future.
The concept for the Multi-Purpose Sunscreen Bottle was submitted by Bailey Brand Consulting, Plymouth Meeting, PA/USA.
Bailey came up with an at first sight extraordinary complicated multi-chamber bottle. The design immediately reminded me of the Evoque Candle’s Patented Box, which is a candle box for storing individual fragrance candles and candle accessories. The Candle box includes a housing with a top opening, a tray for storing candle accessories that fits within the top opening of the housing, and a slidable lid for covering the tray. When you want more details go to the fascinating packaging blog: BoxVox.
Is the Evoque Candle Box made in steel, the Bailey bottle is plastic. Baileys argumentation is as follows:
Every consumer’s beach bag has multiple bottles of sunscreen so they can best protect different body parts. While a smart approach to skin care, it’s impractical due to weight, the opportunity for product waste and the toll large, bulky bottles can have on the environment. To remedy this situation, Bailey Brand Consulting created a single container with modular compartments to hold lotions with different Sun Protection Factors (SPFs). A built-in lever allows consumers to choose their desired SPF level and a spray or pump applicator eliminates the mess associated with squeeze-style tubes. A lock feature on the applicator and permanent cap prevents leaking when the product is not in use. The eco-friendly bottle is made from recyclable materials and is refillable, so consumers only need to replace the SPFs they need.
Refilling isn’t quite a success in the market and hardly accepted by consumers, particularly the pouch refills. Mainly due to hygienic concerns consumers do not like to refill. By following a trend, Bailey solved this problem using refill pods. Although the refill pods are a smart idea, they leave, in this particular application, the consumer in the situation that an almost empty pod, when going to the beach, must be replaced by a new one. And what is the consumer to do with the remainder of sunscreen in the replaced pod?
The Fresh Can
Crown Packaging Technology is engrafting its submitted entry “The Fresh Can” onto the upcoming and very promising trend of self-heating/self-cooling of on-the-go meals. We see this trend emerging mainly in the hot-coffee and hot-tea section, but certainly, with a further evolving of the technique this will also move to the ready-to-eat meal section. Crown took a shot at that future.
Crown’s argumentation is as follows:
Enjoying hot, fresh and nutritious meals on-the-go will get easier for consumers thanks to the Fresh Can concept from Crown Packaging Technology. Shelf stable ambient foods, including vegetables, pasta, soups and ready-to-eat meals, can be heated in seconds thanks to in-can steaming technology from small self-heating pucks in the base of the package or heating by induction on ‘smart surfaces’. In addition to enhancing convenience, the Fresh Can offers significant quality and sustainability benefits. Steam heating provides improved taste and freshness and the all-metal construction is 100% recyclable. Metal packaging also saves energy by eliminating the need for refrigeration and freezing and reduces food waste by controlling portion size.
The interesting point in this concept is not the self-heating in itself, but the fact that Crown thinks in terms of steaming. In general, self-heating packages are using calcium oxide and water for the thermal reaction in a closed environment separated from the food stuff.
It is obvious that Crown’s vision of the future self-heating packaging, is the result of a strategic alliance signed in April this year with HeatGenie, a self-heating technology developer from Austin/TX.
In contrast to what is on the market, HeatGenie isn’t using the thermal reaction of calcium oxide and water, but uses a solid-state fuel which provides high specific energy, high conversion efficiency, and high heat transfer efficiency at a controlled heating rate. It is a pleasant surprise that this technology may lead to in-packaging steaming of food, creating a welcome addition to the canned food segment.
The Laundry Bottle of the Future
Paperboard bottles aren’t new. I have been looking at this development since the introduction of the GreenBottle for milk in the UK, made from 90.7% recycled waste paper), the (never commercialized) 360º Paper Water Bottle and the Ecologic bottle for Straus Family Creamery also for milk. I have the impression that neither the GreenBottle in the UK, nor its cousin the EcologicBottle are a consumer success for as far as milk is concerned.
Recently Ecologic Brands introduced the paper bottle into the detergent market. Although a very interesting development, I don’t know, really don’t have a feeling whether this type of bottle will attract sufficient consumer response.
Let’s look at the argumentation Ecologic Brands, which submitted this design, used:
Designed as an ecological alternative to traditional laundry containers, Ecologic Brands’ hybrid bottle consists of a sturdy moulded fibre shell and an inner pouch and spout. The shell, which is comprised of 70% old corrugated cardboard (OCC) and 30% old newspapers (ONP), can be recycled up to 7 more times or composted. The interior pouch and spout is made from #4 LDPE plastic and fully recyclable with plastic grocery bags at retail drop-off bins. Consumers simply split open the shell’s side to separate and recycle components. The addition of a drain back spout and dosing cap delivers the same functionality that consumers expect with rigid plastic bottles.
After the unsuccessful dairy section, Ecological Brands is gambling for the detergent sector for 2020. They might be right. It is, generally spoken, a brilliant design, as it can use not only OCC and ONP or whatever recycled paperboard, but also many natural materials, such as bamboo, palm leaves, bulrush etc. The design has a large potential, but in my opinion, only when natural materials or recycled paperboard can be thermoformed or moulded from a thin film. as the bottles, at this moment, are too voluminous. The household products section might be the best choice to implement this bottle.
Collapsible, Biodegradable Bottles
Alex Silva, an Independent Designer and Wessco International submitted this collapsible bottle. Although collapsible bottles aren’t new, think of the many harmonica and accordion bottles available in the market, the combination of collapsible and powder-ingredients is an interesting design.
Power, energy and similar drinks lose their effect over time, as vitamins, among others, break down in water. That’s why many dispensing caps have been developed. Creating a collapsible bottle with the dry ingredients and just adding the liquid, is a brilliant idea.
Here is their argumentation:
Created to reduce the amount of PET plastic bottles that end up in landfills each year, these refillable, collapsible bottles encourage reuse and enhance portability. Composed of flexible, plant-based biodegradable plastics derived from renewable biomass sources, the 8oz. bottle is capable of collapsing to 1/3 of its original size, enabling it to easily fit into pockets, purses and backpacks. Bottles are shipped in a collapsed state, enhancing efficiency and minimizing environmental impact. The bottle also features a wide mouth for easy filling and drinking and a screw cap for resealability.
It is funny, when you read their argumentation, to see that the inventor didn’t think in terms of keeping the ingredients for an energy drink in form. He is just talking about the refill possibilities.
Reusable Flow Bottle with Green Refill
Pack Flow Concepts submitted this concept, which I have in my files already for some time. I never used it for an article as, it is one of these concept, I don’t believe in. Refilling is not a hot-item for consumers, worse they are averse, mainly due to hygienic concerns. There are many examples of refillable containers and they never have been successful.
But who am I, just decide for yourself.
Here is the argumentation which the company sent in with the sample:
The Flow Bottle consists of a reusable outer container with an easy-to-load, compostable refill that helps to reduce shipping costs and the product’s environmental footprint. The refill is manufactured empty and shipped on trays in its collapsed format. At the filling location, the tops of the refills will be lifted for application of the liquid product, such as detergents, liquid cleaners, food and industrial oils, and then sealed. Sold in packs of two or four, consumers purchase the refills and load them into the squeezable outer container which can be printed with the same familiar decoration and product information to relay brand messaging during every use. Once the contents of the interior pack have been used, the refill can be easily disposed of and replaced. Other versions of the Flow Bottle provide Zero Waste Dispensing for limiting exposure to air. A third version is for pouring beverages.
As said I don’t believe in refillability. Not now anyway. Whether the consumer in 2020 is willing to go for refilling time will tell. For the moment I think it is the wrong item to concentrate future packaging design onto.
There is one more item which jumps out of this competition of future design and that is the way designers see shopping in 2020. As it directly influences packaging I will write about their concepts in a next article.