What does 2019 hold for the UK print industry?

07 Feb 2019

As we welcome in a new year, it’s time to look at what 2019 will hold. Which emerging trends from 2018 will continue their grip on the market and which new developments might we see coming into play? Here’s a look at the key trends we see driving the UK print industry forward in 2019.


Sustainability might have been the dominant trend through 2018 but it’s definitely no fad – it’s a key consideration for all labels and packaging moving forward and it’s here to stay. Environmentally conscious packaging was once not much more than a point of difference for brands; a ‘nice-to-have’ that the consumer mightn’t notice if not pointed out in marketing and wouldn’t overly miss if it wasn’t there. During 2018, however, the Blue Planet effect has totally gripped the collective consumer gaze and it is now absolutely vital for brands and manufacturers to truly engage with the environmental and sustainability credentials of substrates and processes.

The focus on environmental concerns will continue to rise through 2019 and beyond, with ever-increasing consumer awareness driving brand owners and suppliers to take a holistic, sustainability-focussed view of the packaging supply chain. This can be seen in action as companies of all sizes and types, from independent packaging suppliers to food manufacturing giants, take pledges to address any issues in their own individual supply chains and meet ambitious sustainability targets. For example, brand giant Nestlé has just laid out its vision to achieve a waste-free future and follow through on its commitment to make 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025.

Sustainable packaging isn’t just the production of renewable, recyclable or eco-friendly materials – it covers a whole range of design and production choices. At Creation, we’ve always strived to minimise our environmental impact through careful production choices, such as our pioneering use of the Asahi AWP flexographic plate. The plate is water washable and doesn’t require the use of solvents, removing these potentially harmful chemicals from the wash-up process. In 2018 we took this a step further, committing to going totally solvent-free as we continue to change the way we operate to deliver sustainable processes across our business and reflecting the importance we place on considering the environment in everything that we do.


Stand-Out Presentation

As the retail marketplace becomes increasingly crowded and consumers become more scrutinous of products, thanks in part to heightened awareness of sustainability, product presentation is a brand’s most valuable tool to stand-out on shelf and on screen! In particular, 2019 will see the rise of enhanced design properties and special finishes, as well as an increased focus on high-graphic design work.

There is a marked shift towards premiumisation across all sectors and packaging must pull its weight in persuading consumers that a new, likely higher, premium price-point is worth it. Through 2019, we will also see a trend towards eye-catching packaging design in the online retail marketplace as competition heightens and consumers expect a store-level experience without ever leaving their homes. Well-designed packaging and branding will be crucial to making the most of this trend and standing out from the crowd. Labels, in particular, are extremely effective in delivering high-impact, premiumised design to instantly grab consumers’ attention, whether in-store or online.

Designers must also now take note of fashion and design trends, as the importance of these for packaging can no longer be ignored. For example, the PANTONE colour of the year 2019 is likely to have a greater impact than ever, so expect to see a rise in vibrant 16-1546 ‘Living Coral’ on-shelf. Colour management will continue to become more important, as consumers will inevitably spot discrepancies between on-trend brand colours and those that just don’t quite hit the mark.

Creation_Pantone_coral Creation_Pantone_coral


Building on the trend for premiumisation and focus on presentation, personalisation will take another step forward to be at the forefront of many brands’ choices. As almost every retail sector becomes more crowded, and with stiffer competition than ever, brands must offer that special something to entice consumers to choose their product.  Packaging personalisation and customisation are relatively simple and cost-effective ways to deliver something extra and will be a key tool to drive brand loyalty and enhance consumer engagement in 2019.

Thanks to continuing technological advances in the industry, we will see a rise in new ways for brands to engage with their target consumers using packaging, potentially long after the supermarket shelf or click of a ‘buy’ button. Personalisation will become as individualised as possible, as brands seek to use this powerful tool to build individual relationships with each consumer and take hold. The use of augmented reality, in particular, is set to explode onto the scene, taking packaging from something consumers experience passively to a truly interactive experience that can escalate a brand. A recent study by Stylus Packaging Futures clearly demonstrates there is a consumer drive for interactivity in packaging design, with 64% of UK consumers stating interest in packs with connectivity and 50% stating they’d like to be able to scan a pack to receive the product’s provenance information.

Brands and packaging suppliers alike must therefore consider how best to deliver the customised packaging of the future, with the use of smartphone-driven augmented reality and connectivity, and ensure they are meeting consumers’ needs and expectations, as well as driving product differentiation in the market.


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