Beverage Industry Challenges and Opportunities
Maximizing the Value of Metal Packaging
By Florian Combe, New Product Development & Graphics Manager at Crown Bevcan EMEA
Launching a beverage brand is not just a marketing assignment. To be successful, a product launch should involve the production, commercial, design and operation departments, as well as key suppliers, from the outset. While beverage cans are rightly valued for their sustainability, convenience and portability, there are several other factors to consider when evaluating packaging options:
- Advancing sustainability: Metal is inherently sustainable – it is 100% recyclable and infinitely recyclable, making it a strong packaging choice for environmentally-conscious shoppers. As a packaging partner, we can also provide counsel on enhancing production efficiencies and raising awareness with consumers about the sustainability benefits of cans. A recent example is seen in our partnership with Kristal Kola, the Turkish market’s first canned water brand. In this collaboration, we printed bilingual messaging on the package that highlights the format’s sustainable attributes, including the energy savings to be gained from using recycled material.
- Compatibility: Nearly all beverages are compatible with aluminum cans as the internal coating prevents both contact with the product and corrosion. We have successfully matched beverage cans with sparkling water, beer, soda, juice, tea, energy drinks, and other functional beverages. Working with an experienced supplier that has a proven track record across product categories can accelerate time to market and streamline the launch process.
- Can format advice: Depending on the beverage application, intended drinking occasion and distribution channels, a brand can opt for a standard or non-standard can size. Size variations include slim and sleek cans, as well as larger sizes to help brands stand out at the point-of-sale. Variation in sizes is driven by consumers reaching for cans as they search for product variety, convenience and more premium, visually pleasing packaging options.
- Design options: With increased competition in the retail environment, brands need packaging that will capture consumer attention at the point-of-purchase. Beverage cans have a large, printable surface area that serves as a 360-degree billboard for brands on shelves, which is typically not feasible with other packaging formats. In addition, high-definition printing enables brands to depict intricate designs and strong, bold colors directly onto the aluminum can, boosting consumer interaction with the package while communicating a unique identity. With a broad list of decorative techniques, printing options, ends, can shaping, and colored, embossed and cut-out tabs, close supplier collaboration is critical to achieve the best final output.
What are the latest innovations in decorative can designs?
We see increased interest in innovations that enhance consumer engagement. Brand owners can achieve that by tapping into a range of decorative techniques or even creating interactive experiences. Variable printing technology, for example, which allows up to 24 different design variations to be printed in a single run, is a great way to create a series of collectible cans and attract consumer attention via its non-uniform visual effect.
Then there are smart packaging innovations, such as unique codes that are laser-etched under the tab, that enable activities such as Augmented Reality (AR). AR allows brands to deliver a wide range of content and experiences and is ideal for competitions, promotions and games. These fun, engaging applications are winning consumer hearts and minds across the industry.
Modern decorative finishes and interactive options allow brands to create standout campaigns, localized for specific markets and demographics. Working with a supplier that can advise on various options can help brand owners deliver highly personalized and impactful products to consumers.
What are the key beverage market trends?
Many of the trends we are observing today were initially sparked by changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Demand remains strong for at-home beverage consumption, as well as continued interest in new beverage types, wellness-focused products, and sustainability.
While the appetite for standard can sizes (such as the 330ml format, for example) remains healthy, changes in consumers’ drink preferences and buying behaviors are also driving demand for new package formats, designs, visual appeal and interactive experiences. Metal packaging is perfectly positioned to deliver against these trends, and aluminum cans continue to be a strong choice for new beverage launches thanks to the format’s green credentials, convenience and eye-catching design possibilities.
How can beverage brands stay ahead of market trends?
An effective way to stay ahead of market trends is to work with a supplier with a comprehensive R&D approach that can introduce solutions that are efficient and reliable. Also, look for a team with the expertise to help optimize design and manufacturing processes to accommodate a range of packaging and creative options.
For example, we collaborate with brands creatively, as well as technically, on designs to reach the finish line with the best possible product. We believe in supporting our customers from concept to commercialization, complementing their intimate knowledge of their brand ethos with the right tools, knowledge and recommendations to achieve the desired visual effect.
We also have a continuous learning approach, and this is supported by our Can Academy – a specialist setting designed to educate customers on the can making process and where graphic design falls into the production cycle. Marketers and other decision-makers involved in a product launch can experience design capabilities, reprographics, color matching, proofing activities, as well as the can decorating process, first-hand.
About the Author
Florian Combe is the New Product Development & Graphics Manager at Crown Bevcan EMEA. Through its subsidiaries, Crown Holdings, Inc. is a leading global supplier of rigid packaging products to consumer marketing companies, as well as transit and protective packaging products, equipment and services to a broad range of end markets. For more information, visit www.crowncork.com.