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As a generation, millennials are exerting a strong power over firms in the packaging industry and, as a result, they are greatly influencing many of their long-standing business practices. Having been the first generation to grow up in a world completely dominated by the internet, millennials—those born between 1980 and 1999—have established specific needs and demands that have forced firms to revamp their traditional packaging and production methods in order to directly appeal to this new generation of consumers.
Millennials are frequently characterized by the unique way in which they interact with products. Specifically, the digital environment in which they have grown up has created a consumer group that is keen to share their purchasing experiences, which has seen the emotional element of buying goods become increasingly important for companies to consider when designing packaging. With social media offering a platform to instantly share feedback on products, the pressure for firms to satisfy continues to increase.
With e-commerce the most popular way for millennials to shop, more and more customers are now turning to the internet to purchase pharma goods. This has seen the emergence of many online pharmacies as companies adapt to suit the lives of those that find themselves too busy to visit the doctor. This change has resulted in counterfeit products becoming one of the largest threats in the market. Shockingly, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have warned consumers that 97% of online pharmacies are fake, forcing pharma firms to act to ensure the protection of their consumers in order to be able to continue to safely offer online services.
Packaging has become one of the most efficient ways to allow fake goods to be identified, specifically with the use of microtext. By printing information that is almost unnoticeable to the human eye without the help of magnification, pharma companies have been able to offer a guarantee with goods purchased online as it means they can integrate serialization.
With consumer experience more important than ever, firms are turning to smart packaging as a way of maximising customer satisfaction. This is a trend that has certainly immersed itself in the pharma industry, with firms unable to ignore the power of millennials owing to their tendency to share purchasing experiences online. In today’s market, there is simply no place for goods that do not offer users an experience that is not only functional, but also pleasant.
To meet these expectations, packaging features such as soft-touch grip and easy-open seals are appearing more frequently in the industry and firms are having to invest in developing exceptional products that will delight their young audiences. This has also created new opportunities for innovative firms to produce goods that exceed consumer expectations. One way in which this is being achieved is through smart packaging solutions as a way of adding value. In other words, the one-size-fits-all model is no longer adequate for millennials that have become accustomed to personalized products.
In response to this, Medical Guardian has developed a pharmaceutical smartwatch device that boasts:
In addition, pill containers that remind consumers when to take a tablet and also announce approaching sell-by dates are being offered by companies such as Tricella.
Millennials have also led the way in applying significant pressure on firms across many industries to consider the sustainability of their products and the environmental impact of their practices. With plastic the word on everyone’s lips, recyclable packaging and waste reduction are key issues for companies to address if they are keen to engage with core consumer groups.
Packaging supplier Quadpack has already responded to the concerns of their consumers and acknowledged their corporate social responsibility by trialling rail transportation as a low-carbon alternative to transporting goods by air. In addition, the company has established Quadpack Foundation, which dedicates itself to supporting social, educational, and environmental programmes with an emphasis on integrating young people from underprivileged backgrounds.
The damaging environmental effects of single-use packaging is a topical issue at present and, in the food and drink industry, companies including Starbucks and McDonalds have promised to ban all single-use plastic straws by 2020. However, the pharma industry is struggling to make similar pledges as single-use plastic is relied upon as a way of minimizing the risk of infection. Unable to ignore the pressure from millennials regarding environmentally friendly production, the FDA are monitoring hospitals and re sterilizing companies to ensure that they are recycling safely, and they also offer detailed guidelines on their website in order to help the pharma industry meet social demands without having to compromise on product safety. In addition, PE and PET are being chosen more frequently when it comes to medical packaging as they are durable materials that can be recycled and returned to the market at a clean and high grade.
Millennials are an undeniably important consumer group for pharma packaging companies to interact with. However, their complex purchasing habits require special attention in the industry, made only more challenging at the hands of the many influences impacting packaging, including strict safety regulations and the sensitive nature of the products. This calls for firms to achieve a balance between their responsibilities to satisfy consumer needs, while also managing personal objectives and operating in line with intense federal restrictions.