4 Trends from the 2018 Paperboard Packaging Competition

7/30/2018

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a crystal ball that showed you the future? We’d all probably save a lot of time and money! While we can’t offer you such an amazing tool, we can tell you what’s on the horizon for paperboard packaging design. 

Each year, PPC’s members submit their best folding cartons and rigid boxes into the North American Paperboard Packaging Competition. Judging took place last month, and some interesting trends emerged. Here are the top four.

1. Digital is Upping its Game

The number of digitally-converted cartons entered into the competition has been increasing for the past few years—so much so that we decided to create a new digital category for the 2018 competition. 

 

And it was the right time to do so. We had a record number of digital cartons this year, and the judges all 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. 

 

2. Upscaling the Everyday

Paperboard can impart a sense of luxury like no other packaging substrate. While such upscale presentations are common in the beauty or electronics markets, this year’s competition saw upscale printing and finishing effects 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.

 

3. Creative Multiuse Designs

This year we saw quite a few cartons that not only branded and protected products, but also provided consumers additional value after purchase. 

 

WestRock submitted one such carton for Asahi beer in cans. Not only is the design graphically unique for the beer segment, the structural design of the bottom tray enables the pack to display cans andhold 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.

 

4. Cannabis Continues

unique cannabis carton manufactured by All Packaging Co. took the top award in last year’s competition. The 2018 contest also featured 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. 

 

Have you seen any other upcoming trends? Let us know in the comments! And stay tuned to find out who won the 2018 competition.We will be revealing the top award winners at our Fall Meeting, Oct. 24-26 in Atlanta! 

design trends
North American Paperboard Packaging Competition
package design
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