What’s Next? Exploring 5 Key Packaging Trends for 2024

5 min read
December 8, 2023
What’s Next? Exploring 5 Key Packaging Trends for 2024

The packaging industry is constantly evolving, driven by changing consumer preference and technological advancements. In 2024, the packaging landscape is poised for significant transformation. Staying ahead of these changes is crucial for brands seeking to thrive in a competitive market.

In this article, we'll explore five key packaging trends that will shape the market in 2024.


Trend 1: Sustainable Materials Are Expected

Pregis green bubble 800

Sustainable materials have become a focal point in the packaging industry, and this trend is set to intensify in 2024. With consumers becoming increasingly aware of packaging’s impact on the environment, demand will continue to rise for eco-friendly packaging solutions that are biodegradable, compostable, and made from recycled materials.

In 2023, we witnessed a significant increase in companies embracing sustainable initiatives, and this trend is expected to gain even more traction in 2024. Companies are recognizing the importance of aligning with eco-conscious consumers, defining their ESG goals, and working to reduce carbon emissions in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development goals.

Beyond the push for paper-based packaging solutions, there is also growing awareness around the impact of inks and coatings, prompting a shift towards more environmentally friendly options. The BoxMaker is at the forefront of these eco-friendly options, utilizing HP True Water-Based inks on our HP PageWide C500 presses. These inks are not only food safety compliant but also fully repulpable and recyclable. Learn more here.

We anticipate that brands that put in effort to use sustainable materials and adopt sustainable packaging strategies will be favored by the market. Read this guide to get started on your sustainability journey.


Trend 2: Mass Adoption of AI-Aided Design

Midjourney packaging design 800

Image created using Midjourney

Artificial Intelligence (AI) made an undeniable splash in 2023 across almost every industry. In the field of packaging, AI is revolutionizing the design process as AI-aided design continues to rise. As AI tools become more integrated into professional software platforms, we will see an increased use for both graphic and structural design, offering more efficient ways to ideate and refine packaging concepts, and even create production-ready graphics (though we caution “buyer beware” when it comes to copyright and understanding how AI images are generated).

In 2024, we expect AI to impact not only packaging design but also other facets of the packaging management process, including manufacturing, supply chain management, and automation. AI may soon be leveraged to estimate demand, manage inventory levels, reduce shipping costs, and find new ways to streamline business operations.

Brands that embrace AI tools are positioned to outperform their counterparts that do not.


Trend 3: Adopting Digital Print from the Start

starwars x stanley box 800

Digital print and finishing continue to reshape the packaging industry by revolutionizing packaging production. More and more brands are opting for digital print from the start due to its high print quality and undeniable supply chain advantages, including quick lead times, reduced waste, and flexible order quantities that traditional production methods struggle to deliver with the same level of agility.

In 2024 an increasing number of brands will leverage digital print, web-to-print, and other digital tools to enhance their custom packaging sourcing strategy. Brands with a strong presence in retail channels that aim to boost brand awareness and identity are sure to turn to digital print if they haven’t already. In a market saturated with products, beautiful and quick-to-market packaging that can be economically customized to a specific audience will give brands an edge over their competitors. Digital print is the perfect solution in this case.

Packaging manufacturers continue to invest resources in digital print and finishing, and those without the financial means are outsourcing these services to meet the growing demand. This is a strong indication that digital print will continue to dominate the market in the coming years.


Trend 4: An E-Commerce First Approach

Just as modern web design has adopted a “mobile first” methodology, modern brands are born online and cater to e-commerce customers from the start. As such, e-commerce packaging is no longer an add-on afterthought but often the first format that a successful online brand needs to develop.

In 2024 online shopping will continue to drive demand for specialized e-commerce packaging solutions, including custom mailers, a variety of void fill solutions, custom inserts, poly bags, and more.

According to Forbes, by 2026, 24% of retail purchases are expected to take place online. As consumers have become accustomed to shopping from the comfort of their own home, we can expect this to be the new normal moving forward.

Forbes ecommerce statistics

Source: Forbes

One crucial aspect of e-commerce is the handling of returns. An integral part of the online shopping experience, brands should treat returns as an opportunity. E-commerce shipping box formats that make it easy for consumers to make a return, especially when it comes to apparel, can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Brands with a robust e-commerce packaging strategy will be favored by online shoppers.

Return mailers 800


Trend 5: Differentiation through Shape

In 2024, packaging customized by shape will become a powerful tool for brand recognition and differentiation. Unique geometric shapes, intricate cutouts, and captivating patterns on labels are and will continue to capture consumer attention. Attention is currency. Brands that recognize this will invest heavily in packaging that stands out on crowded shelves.

bennetts chocolatier dieline 800

Source: The Dieline

The trend of uniquely shaped packaging goes beyond aesthetics; it serves as a tangible expression of a brand's identity and values. It is no longer just about compelling typography or vivid colors. Brands must use the packaging form itself to tell a story.

If everyone is using colors and fonts to stand out, brands that use shapes as decorative elements will create stronger and longer-lasting impressions than their competition.


Start Planning Your 2024 Packaging Strategy

Keeping up with packaging trends is essential for brands looking to sell more products, increase market share, and satisfy their customers. The dynamic shifts in 2024 packaging trends present opportunities for innovation and differentiation. As we approach the new year, businesses must embrace these trends to stay relevant and meet the evolving demands of the market.

The BoxMaker is your all-in-one packaging supplier with cutting-edge digital printing capabilities. Our award-winning structural design team is here to help bring your packaging ideas to life. Contact our Packaging Advisors to kickstart your 2024 packaging strategy and stay ahead of your competition.


Join The BoxMaker Mailing List