A Millennial impact on FMCG Packaging

March 21, 2017 11:11 am
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Millennials are having a growing influence in how organisations do business. With a population of 16.2 million (2016) or approximately 25%, this is now the largest single demographic in the UK. The needs of this demographic vary greatly to those of the baby boomers, and generations X and Y. Yet this impact is not limited to how millennials are accommodated within businesses. Their values transcend across all aspects of life, and FMCG packaging is one area of notable change.

In a typical supermarket, a shopper will pass about 600 items per minute – one item every tenth of a second. Consequently, the competition in this space is intense and packaging has a crucial role to play. Brands need to constantly find creative ways to gain attention and generate interest in their products, and packaging is fast becoming a USP in targeting millennials.

Traditionally, packaging has been used for several core functions:

  • Protection of goods from damage or contamination
  • Marketing
  • Information transfer
  • Convenience of handling and storage
  • Security

However, the role of packaging has evolved over the years, and now the needs of millennials must be considered. Millennials are attributed with several characteristics which drive different consumer behaviours from other demographics. Principally, these include:

  • High expectations
  • Technologically immersed
  • Thought diversity
  • Convenience
  • Socially responsible

When considering how these characteristics influence consumer decision-making, a clear distinction is evident between Millennials and others. As a growing sector, these customers represent the largest market share of any single demographic. Strategically, businesses need to consider whether this sector supports their long-term objectives, and if so, what transitions are required to sustain or grow their reach with the market place. Arguably, packaging will be one of the greatest opportunities.

To appeal to Millennials, aligning packaging to their values is likely to provide a USP which makes the greatest impression. Here are some key characteristics to consider when defining how packaging can attract your target audience:

Experience Seekers

Interactive packaging, which offers more than just the aforementioned traditional benefits, will generate intrigue. Using packaging to create a sense of adventure can be a product/brand differentiator. Examples include Origami Bottle, and smart labels (QR codes)

Social Media Savvy

Millennials spend, on average, more than 25 hours a week online. Digital accessibility on packaging linked to social media can facilitate advertising, promotions or information sharing. Influencer marketing is an effective way to create brand awareness, leveraging off peer-to-peer networks. So ask, “Is this package instagrammable?”


Individuality, customisation and differentiation are important aspects for Millennials. They demand products which speak to them as a person, and reflect their values. Coca Cola’s ‘share a Coke’ campaign with personalised names on bottles is an example of this approach to packaging.

Open mindedness

Brand loyalty is less of a concern with factors such as uniqueness and technology prioritised. Packaging can be used to appeal to individuals as an extension of marketing campaigns. Reliance on traditional brand loyalty and a one-size-fits-all approach won’t reach the masses of this market. According to Boston Consulting Group (BCG), half of U.S. Millennials aged 18 to 24 and 38% of those aged 25 to 34 agreed that brands “say something about who I am, my values, and where I fit in”.

Socially Responsible

With increased on-the-go purchases and convenience shopping habits, millennials are conscious of their impact on the environment – and this, therefore, extends to their brand selection. Recycled, carbon neutral and biodegradable materials are generally preferred. Yet this extends beyond green living. Per the 2015 “Millennial Impact Report”, 84% of Millennials made a charitable donation in the last year, and 70% had volunteered for a cause. These values are deep-rooted and an extension of the individual.

The core role of packaging may continue to support the traditional requirements, but the impact of millennials is causing many FMCG manufacturers and retailers to consider the wider implications of their approach.


Written by Arron Delamare, Coriolis Consulting Pty Ltd