Springfield, Mass. – The Paperboard Packaging Council (PPC) has shared four design trends the association noticed during its annual North American Paperboard Packaging Competition. Manufacturers submit hundreds of folding cartons and rigid boxes into the competition each year, making it an excellent platform for monitoring upcoming trends and new converting technologies.
Digital Upping Its Game
The number of digitally-converted cartons entered into PPC’s competition has been increasing for the last several years—so much so that the association decided to create a new digital category for the 2018 competition.
Not only did 2018 see a record number of digital entries, the judges also agreed that the quality has skyrocketed. In many cases, it was hard to tell the difference between digital and traditional printing. One judge even commented that high-quality digital printing may be more than a trend. It might become the standard for short-to-medium runs going forward.
Additionally, 2018 was the first year where digital finishing enhancements, like those from Scodix, were popular in the competition. The judges were excited to see digital finishing executed commercially and suspect that it may become the rage over the next few years.
Upscaling the Everyday
Paperboard is often the first choice of substrate for luxury markets. Yet this year’s competition saw upscale printing and finishing effects even in everyday market sectors. For example, for the first time in the competition, the judges saw soft touch coating on a six-pack beer carton.
Graphic Packaging International highlighted this trend with their Kellogg’s Extra Creations cereal box. The black, gable-top carton has overall matte varnish, spot high-gloss coating with embossing, and gold foil stamping. The nontraditional shape, color, and effects all work together to create a unique, upscale feel that grabs consumers’ attention amongst the sea of rectangular cereal boxes in the grocery store.
The judges said it was excellent to see new market sectors taking advantage of what paperboard does best—offer premium branding and graphics that help brands sell their products.
Creative Multiuse Designs
The competition featured cartons that not only branded and protected products, but also provided consumers additional value after purchase.
WestRock submitted one such carton for Asahi beer. Not only is the design graphically unique for the beer segment, the structural design of the bottom tray enables the pack to display cans and hold ice. This allows consumers to keep their beer cans cold on the beach or wherever their adventure takes them.
Other interesting entries included a spooky, glowing Jägermeister carton designed to illuminate consumers’ Halloween parties; a rigid paperboard Ferris wheel that served as a showpiece for upscale cosmetics; and several packages that utilized augmented reality or allowed consumers to access virtual content with their smart phones.
A unique cannabis carton manufactured by All Packaging Co. took the top award in last year’s competition. The 2018 contest also had several excellent folding cartons and rigid boxes designed for the cannabis industry. Cannabis cartons generally have two major functions: branding and childproofing. This year, some entries were quite strong in the branding aspect, featuring soft touch coating, foil stamping, and spot UV. Others designs took it a step further by adding creative locking mechanisms made entirely from paperboard. These designs put paperboard’s nearly limitless structural possibilities on display. As the cannabis market grows, so too should its demand for paperboard packaging.
The top winners of the 2018 North American Paperboard Packaging Competition will be announced at PPC’s upcoming Fall Meeting, October 24-26, in Atlanta. For more information about the competition, visit paperbox.org/cc.
Kellogg’s Extra Creations cereal box from Graphic Packaging International adds upscale flair to the cereal aisle.