Bottles of coca-cola bottles over 200 years

Today packaging is the combination of science, art and technology of protection, storage and distribution. It’s a multi-million pound industry which involves marketing, design, material testing, user experience, market research, packaging engineering, compliance and shipping. Packaging’s function to protect contents is also leveraged to sell product. It’s been quite a journey from the earliest known form of packaging which were made from natural materials such as leaves and weaved grasses. It’s interesting to see that we have today come full circle, given all the different materials available on the market today, as consumers have become increasingly discerning with a desire for packaging materials from natural and sustainable sources.

Packaging – the early years!

Glass bottle packaging

Glass bottle packaging

Paper is the oldest re-shapeable packaging material. Mulberry tree barks were used in China in the 1st and 2nd centuries B.C to wrap food with paper making techniques improving during the following 1500 years and transported to the Middle East. It is thought that glass and wood packaging have been used for over 5000 years with the emergence of glass storage “pots” being used in Ancient Egypt. In 1823 a patent was awarded for the first example of metal packaging and as we moved into the 1900’s – paper and cardboard began to increase in popularity until plastic appeared on the scene.

Modern Day Materials

General use of plastics in packaging really came into it’s own after World War 2 (even though it was first conceived in 1838). Polythene was used in abundance during the war and quickly established a market for numerous applications. Consumers would have seen their wax paper used in bread packaging replaced by plastic. The growth in plastic packaging increased dramatically from the 1970’s.

Packaging today

Modern premium packaging

Modern premium packaging

With today’s technology and conditions, we have  materials have been replaced by more suitable and economic materials such as glass, metal, plastic, paper and cardboard. During those years packaging was used only for transport and storage, but with these new materials it also became an opportunity for advertising and promotion, and suddenly found itself part of marketing policy. Packaging and design creates the distinction between the same type of products sitting side by side on shelves.

So fast forward to today and our on demand world of ecommerce – with the new focus on packaging with process optimisation alongside brand development.  Bespoke branding on packaging becomes of increasing importance for online retailers with the absence of ‘customer contact’. Customer experience has become the new buzz word with brands leveraging every opportunity to stand out in the crowd -packaging has taken centre stage with product promotion in today’s visual world.

If you would like to talk through your ideas about taking your packaging and branding to the next level, we would love to hear from you.  We have over 40 years of experience – so why not get in touch with our friendly team who would be delighted to hear all about your project! We offer a free non-obligation packaging and process review to help your business to successfully navigate through the maze of choice and options available on the market today – and what’s right for your brand.


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