It seems like “trend” is often viewed as a bad word. It implies a fad that won’t stick around or cause any positive change. But one of the good things about the packaging industry is that it’s always trying to improve itself. That admirable goal ends up creating new opportunities and packaging trends that reflect the needs of businesses and their products.

In the end, it’s positive change, and it’s one of the reasons we like packaging so much. Let’s look at 5 important packaging trends we’ll be watching in 2020.

Environmentally conscious packaging

The push for packaging to become more environmentally friendly has really taken off in the past handful of years—and it seems like supply chains are finally up to the challenge.

More and more, packaging is being made from less harmful and less wasteful sources. Paper-based products are being made from sustainable or responsibly managed forests. Plastics and films are increasingly recyclable. Biodegradable options aren’t as hard to find, or as expensive to obtain.

Things are changing for the better. As a prime example, check out our eco-friendly mailers.

E-commerce packaging design

With online shopping and its shipping costs always on the rise, optimized packaging is (understandably) highly sought-after by businesses. After all, simply reducing a shipment’s box size can see huge improvements in both material and transportation costs.

Focusing on packaging design reveals plenty of options available to businesses. In addition to reducing box size, changing to a new box style can create new opportunities (an easy-fold mailer may lower your shipping costs, while a front-lock mailer might change your brand’s feel, attracting new business).

Much like how style isn’t just what you wear, but how you wear it—packaging isn’t just what you use, but how you use it.

Digital printing techniques

Plate-based printing has long been the printing method of choice in the packaging world. It’s time-tested, readily available, and largely cost-effective. And while digital printing has been around for a few decades, it’s taken a long time for its quality and associated costs to improve.

That’s changing, thankfully. Those improvements in print quality and output costs have finally put it on the map, making businesses more aware of its other advantages (mainly, its speed and automation opportunities). Adoption of digital printing is certainly a noteworthy trend on its own, but it’s what can be done with it that’s far more interesting.

Here’s how improved digital printing techniques leads into the next two packaging trends for 2020:

Custom branded packaging

Custom shipping packaging has been around for quite a while. But because of its costs and often astronomical order minimums, it was never in the realm of possibility for smaller businesses.

That is, until digital printing came along and kicked the door in.

All those advantages we listed above have made it so that smaller businesses can order quality, branded packaging in quantities that won’t overload their storage areas and at prices that won’t destroy their budgets.

It’s leveled the playing field in ways not possible just a few years ago. Even if you’re a small online store shipping out a few dozen orders (or even less) a week, your shipments can look just as high-end and expensive as the big guys with huge market share.

Personalized packaging

Digital printing in the packaging word has delivered something long desired but also long considered a pipe dream. Mass-produced, reasonably priced custom printing runs that let you change elements on every printed piece.

Imagine sending thank-you boxes to your 50 best customers, each one printed with their name inside.

With online shopping making it difficult to create a bond with your customers, just think of the attention and brand loyalty that personalized packaging would earn your business.

There are plenty of opportunities for businesses looking to optimize and improve their packaging strategies. What packaging trends do you want your business to take advantage of in 2020? We’d love to hear your plans—and help you achieve them.