Pantone Color of the Year 2016

The following post was written by GTS Packaging Solutions’ Liz Wolfe, and is featured at gtspblog.wordpress.com.

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Pantone has just announced their 2016 Color of the Year, and for the first time since they started the practice in 2000, they’ve picked two colors: Rose Quartz and Serenity.

Last year, we noted that their 2015 choice ‘Marsala’ was an interesting one (pictured below on the left along with the colors from 2011-2014). Marsala’s deep, earthy tones are quite different from previous selections (which have all been rather lively).

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It seems that Pantone is sticking with last year’s idea of shaking things up–while they are going back to their more colorful roots, Rose Quartz and Serenity are the first pastel colors they’ve selected since the early 2000’s.

Pantone’s Color of the Year isn’t just an arbitrary decision: in addition to being a huge name in the printing industry (thus inspiring next year’s trends), their selection is always inspired by current events. Rose Quartz and Serenity are meant to work together to soothe and balance viewers in a time of change and turbulence.

About their decision, they’ve said: “Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.”

Pantone also points out that “in many parts of the world we are experiencing a gender blur as it relates to fashion, which has in turn impacted color trends throughout all other areas of design. This more unilateral approach to color is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity, the consumer’s increased comfort with using color as a form of expression, a generation that has less concern about being typecast or judged and an open exchange of digital information that has opened our eyes to different approaches to color usage.”

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Have You Heard of Coffee Leaf Tea?

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Consumed in Ethiopia for more than 200 years, coffee leaf tea is exactly what it sounds―the leaves of coffee plants roasted and then brewed into tea. While coffee leaves barely contain any caffeine at all, they are believed to be more nutritious than both coffee and many blends of tea. They also have “…a clean and smooth flavour without the bitterness associated with conventional green and black teas.”

Wize Monkey is one of the companies currently popularizing the blend, and their goal is “to improve the livelihoods of coffee-dependent communities by harvesting a sustainable & healthy product.” Wize Monkey was founded by Max Rivest and Arnaud Petitvallet, who are both business school graduates from France with a focus on ethical practices and international sustainable development.

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Other than oil, coffee is the second largest industry in the world, worth approximately $15.4 billion in 2009/10. Even still, the coffee business is incredibly seasonal; coffee beans can only be harvested for 3 months out of the entire year. As a result, most workers cannot be kept on year-round. According to Wize Monkey’s site:

“In the last few years, the coffee market has become flooded and revenues have been plummeting for all coffee farmers worldwide. We figured that if the farmers could also sell coffee leaves, they could create a second source of income and help make ends meet. After three months of searching and meeting with dozens of organic farmers, we have come home to Vancouver BC with a one-of-a-kind revolutionary tea. Not only does it do your body some good, it does the farmers some awesome.”

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The good thing about coffee leaves is that they can be harvested year-round. Wize Monkey sources their leaves from one of the top coffee growers in Northern Nicaragua, who has over 18 years experience in the industry. This particular farm “pays workers 80% more than the industry average, which means more funds in the worker’s pockets to support their families…” If Wize Monkey is successful, coffee leaf tea could potentially provide long-lasting benefits to families and communities around the world that normally make a living selling coffee beans.

Curious about how you can try Wize Monkey’s coffee leaf tea for yourself? Their online shop has a preorder bundle available with shipment due for spring of 2015 (soon!), or a two sample pack.

Personalization: Why It’s Important for E-Commerce Packaging

It’s 2015, and retail e-commerce is doing better than ever. According to an estimate released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, in 2014, total retail sales amounted to well over 4.5 trillion dollars, and retail e-commerce sales accounted for nearly 3 billion of that (approximately 6.3% over all). Between 2005 and 2013, e-commerce sales figures as part of a larger whole have nearly tripled (rising from 2.4%). We’ve seen a steady incline in both general and e-commerce retail sales—that trend will likey continue, as experts predict that “60% of U.S. retail sales will involve the web by 2017” (through either direct purchase or research purposes). With numbers that high, why does our e-commerce packaging still look like this?

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When a business has a storefront, it’s all about presentation. Workers are required to keep the site clean and operational at all times, and they must greet guests with a smile. Shelves are kept stocked and organized. Careful consideration is put into the look and feel of the store itself. Businesses understand that wowing their guests is good business. If what they are presented with is top of the line the whole way through, customers are more likely to come back.

Many business do bring their presentation beyond the storefront by spending thousands—or tens of thousands—of dollars on developing high class websites (web development is getting more affordable with the introduction of platforms that are designed to allow anyone to engineer their online presence, coding experience or not). Even if the customer is not physically present, steps can be taken to keep them coming back. A beautiful, easy to use site is a great start, but it doesn’t have to end there. Personalized e-commerce packaging is on the rise.

So why should a business bother doing this? If a customer is receiving a package, it’s clear they’ve already decided where they’d like to bring their business. Does it really matter how the package is presented? Technically, standard e-commerce packaging likely wouldn’t dissuade anyone from re-ordering from an online shop. They are used to seeing deliveries this way, after all. But fine tuning your presence from checkout to doorstep definitely won’t hurt.

Whenever I order something online, I’ll typically forget where it came from not long after,  unless it’s something branded. Even if custom packaging doesn’t work for you, the smallest acts can and will go a long way—for example, I’ve purchased several birthday presents from the artist Wednesday Wolf, who I haven’t forgotten about because he included a personalized message with my first order.

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For custom shipment packaging, look to a company like Loot Crate, “a monthly box of geek & gamer gear.” For a service like this, the unboxing is a big deal because the contents are a surprise. Having packaging like the above is a nice touch: pulling new loot out of a sleek, custom box is more exciting than ugly/standard shipping gear. I actually first found out about Loot Crate via Facebook when a friend posted a picture of his new crate, box and all. The packaging itself was clearly part of the excitement, and so it made it into the picture (while a normal box would have likely been discarded).

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There’s also Trunk Club, a service that matches clients with online personal stylists. They’ll build you a custom wardrobe, keeping in mind your style and preferences, and then ship it straight to your doorstep. The clothing is laid out nicely in the box upon arrival, and the exterior of the box itself looks great. Trunk Club also capitalizes on the custom note business—each crate contains a handwritten message from designer to recipient. Many clients not only return for more, but opt to work with the same stylist time after time because of the high level of personalization they’ve achieved (after all, over the years, stylists start to get a really great understanding of what their clients like and don’t like).

Like I said. Shipping presentation probably won’t dissuade anyone from re-ordering. They may just forget about you in the grand scheme of things. In an economy that will see a higher and higher prevalence in online ordering, personalization is the key to getting customers to remember why they decided to order from you in the first place.


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5 Popular Brands Re-Imagined by Students

This week, we’re spotlighting 5 popular brands re-imagined by students. From Epson Ink to Wonder Bread, their designs offer a fresh perspective to the classic products we’ve grown accustomed to seeing. First up:

1. Parker Brothers Board Games by Sam Kittinger

This design, which is also hosted on Lovely Package, “…stemmed from a desire to de-construct the overdone packaging board games nowadays are so known for. Drawing inspiration from vintage, modernist game box design, these re-inventions focus on simplistic imagery, experimental typography, and limited color schemes.”

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2. Wonder Bread by Marisol Escorza

This re-imagination of the popular brand is meant to capture a looks that caters to the European market.

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3. Sony Earbuds Cassette by Alyssa Phillips

One of the goals with this project was to give “…the now rarely used cassette a fun new purpose.”


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4. GE Energy Smart Light Bulb by Michelle Wang

The goal of this project “…was to reduce carbon footprint — finding a way to use the least amount of material while still offering protection…by using a single sheet of chip-board, no glue, and minimal ink.”

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5. Epson Ink Cartridge Packaging by Ali Prater

According to a comment on Lovely Package, Prater “…wanted them to have a clean and elegant disposition as well as a unique exterior, both of which distinctly separates them from their competition.”

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Waste and Opportunity 2015: As You Sow

As You Sow, a sizable organization that works “to promote environmental and social corporate responsibility…” recently ran a report on the packaging industry’s overall performance in regards to sustainability and packaging. Their Waste and Opportunity 2015 analyzed the practices of several large companies and found that to varying degrees, they all “…are wasting valuable materials through poor packaging sustainability policies – to the tune of $11.4 billion a year.” Many of these companies do not take responsibility for their actions, either, as they are not only wasting valuable materials, but are also greatly contributing to pollution.

As You Sow’s report analyzed 47 major companies based on four core practices of sustainability, ranking them on their overall performance:

  1. Source Reduction: using less materials and switching to those which are reusable if the option is available.
  2. Recycled Content: using recycled content when creating new products, which they point out “…helps create a market for recycled materials and requires far fewer resources.
  3. Recyclability and Materials Use: avoidance of materials that cannot be recycled easily.
  4. Boosting Materials Recycling: when possible, make it easier for consumers to recycle products after use (this more so applies to brands which have established storefronts, where they can have designated recycling bins).

According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States from 2012, some types of packaging materials are better than others. Recovery rates for plastics are extremely low–only 13.8% of these materials are recycled. Glass and aluminum are also moderately poor, at 34.1% and 38%, respectively. Paper and paperboard products ranked the highest, at 76.1%, though they note that these rates are skewed “…primarily due to high recycling rates for corrugated cardboard; only 25 percent of all other types of paper packaging is recycled.” Steel packaging does moderately well: 72.2% of these materials are able to be recovered.

As You Sow highlights how their core practices of sustainability can be put into use in both the fast food restaurant and consumer packaged goods markets, and gives examples for each:

For fast food restaurants, reusable cups and dining-ware should be available (like at Panera and Starbucks). Use of recycled content should be maximized (Starbucks and McDonald’s), and companies should entirely avoid materials that are difficult to recycle (like the foam cups from Chick-fil-A).

As for consumer packaged goods, more reusable and bulk options should be made available, and goals should be set to increase the use of recycled content (PepsiCo is off to a good start, while Coca-Cola is lagging behind). Companies should also be designing packaging that is easy to recycle: Capri Sun is a very common bad example in this department.

In their 5 key actions brands must take to drive packaging sustainability, As You Sow points out that brands should be disclosing their production information on the creation of packaging that we don’t have very much information on (like plastic pouches), stating simply that “what gets measured can get managed.” They also note that “some companies generate millions in revenue recycling corrugated cardboard,” and brands who do not already should be capitalizing on this. Lastly, if companies do feel the need to be using materials that are hard to recycle, they should be working with processors “…to develop new, cost-effective recycling processes to ensure they are recycled. All brands need to fund new investments in materials market development…”

As You Sow says it best: “It’s time for companies to step up and take the lead on recycling.”

Packaging Conventions to Look out for in 2015

Conventions are a great place for networking. You can meet potential clients, learn the latest tricks of the trade in the industry, connect with industry professionals, and more. This week, we’re covering some of the upcoming shows to look out for in 2015.

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Pack Expo Las Vegas is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year from September 28th – 30th in Las Vegas, Nevada (venue TBD). Pack Expo covers the leading trends and innovations in the industry as a whole. With over 1,800 exhibiting companies and 29,000+ overall attendees, Pack Expo is a show you don’t want to miss.

Can’t make the Las Vegas show? There’s also Pack Expo East from February 16th – 18th in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with over 300 exhibitors and 4,000 attendees.

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The Converting & Package Printing Expo is another one you don’t want to miss if you’re in the Chicago area. From September 13th – 16th, they’ll be covering flexible packaging, non-wovens and tissue converting, corrugated converting, folding carton/boxmaking, 3D printing technologies, and more. With over 120 exhibitors, it’s a sizable convention where you’ll be joined by many other industry professionals.

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Info Flex runs from May 4th – 5th in Nashville, Tennessee. This particular exhibition has been running for over 30 years; they have a solid track record, drawing in 240 exhibitors and 2,000 attendees. According to their site, 98% of exhibiting companies from 2014 plan to return this year, and 89% met potential business prospects. Both the size of their venue and the attendance rates have increased by over 30% in recent years. They cover flexible packaging, tag & label, corrugated, folding carton, printed electronics, and more.

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Lastly, we have Luxe Pack, whose New York show runs from May 13th – 14th. Luxe Pack is the only show of its kind, as it is dedicated specifically to creative and innovative packaging. They offer innovative solutions for all sorts of packaging types and industries, with a strong focus on aesthetics. To date, they have been running for 9 years, bringing in over 3,300 visitors and 200 exhibiting companies.

Which shows are you planning on visiting?

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What is Nano-Enabled Packaging?

What-enabled packaging? While it may sound complicated to someone who’s unfamiliar with the subject, nano-enabled packaging is actually far more common than you may think. As of 2013, the global nano-enabled packaging market was worth 6.5 billion dollars, and that rate is expected to more than double by 2020. What is nano-enabled packaging though? Nanotechnology “involves the uses of nanomaterials, which have external dimensions of less than 100 nanometres.” Basically, it’s work that is done on a very, very small scale. According to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies’ ‘Nanotechnology 101,’ “At the nanoscale, scientists can start affecting the properties of materials directly, making them harder or lighter or more durable. In some cases, simply making things smaller changes their properties-a chemical might take on a new color, or start to conduct electricity when re-fashioned at the nanoscale.”

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You may have recently heard of this bit of nanotechnology floating around (I know I’ve certainly seen a few of my friends posting videos of it on social media). Scientists have recently created an incredibly hydrophobic metal–so hydrophobic, in fact, that droplets of water bounce right off its surface upon contact. To do this, tiny etchings were made into the surface of the metal at the nano scale, which helps to create air pockets and repel water and other substances. This technology could have many applications, including self-cleaning smart phone screens, water (and consequently ice repellant) cars and planes, and a way to prevent metal objects from rusting.

In the food packaging world, nanotechnology is generally used to prolong the lifespan of the product. With a growing customer base worldwide, “…food packaging requires longer shelf life, along with monitoring food safety and quality based upon international standards. To address these needs, nanotechnology is enabling new food and beverage packaging technologies.” Nanotechnology in packaging could take many forms, such as moisture absorbers, gas permeability, and antibacterial properties.

Some of the biggest names in nano-enabled packaging right now include Amcor, Bayer, Danaflex-Nano, Honeywell, and Tetra Pak International (the later of which you may recognize from their 100% renewable carton).