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Cans as canvas that maximise brand experience and storytelling potential

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Cans as canvas that maximise brand experience and storytelling potential

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With the constant market changes and the world full of uncertainty, one thing is clear: the consumers’ attention span is shrinking and brands need to fight stronger than ever to gain a slice of it. In this context, packaging plays a crucial role in increasing awareness, being a canvas to tell a story, to stimulate the senses, to engage, and, what follows, to influence the way consumers feel about a product or a brand.

Rising interest in cans is being driven by a mix of established and more recent trends. Lifestyle changes are the major, well-established driver of the move. Two-thirds of people in the UK eat lunch or dinner on the go at least occasionally, creating opportunities for drinks including coffee, tea and wine that are sold in convenient formats.1​ Almost half of people eat lunch on the go at least once a week.

The lifestyle changes behind the rise of out-of-home consumption were disrupted in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, the changes in how people live caused by the coronavirus outbreak created new trends that favour the use of cans.

COVID-19 brought the stackability, safety and security of cans into focus. At a time when people are buying in bulk, cans are a particularly attractive type of packaging. The coronavirus pandemic created new consumption occasions, too. Beer consumption switched from pubs to homes, which are now where everything happens. With restaurants and cafes closed or deemed unsafe, consumers spent more time meeting to eat and drink in parks. The convenience of lightweight cans is well suited to all of the new consumption occasions.

Canpack PF 1

As sustainable, unbreakable and lightweight packaging, cans are a good fit for the on-the-go market, making the rise of out-of-home consumption a driver of increased use of the material.

Sustainability is the second, long-term driver of the shift toward cans. Two-thirds of Europeans are extremely or very concerned about packaging and food waste.2​ Packing products in cans is an effective way to target that large group of consumers. As consumers and brands have sought to reduce carbon footprint and waste, cans have been recognised as a sustainable option that can help them achieve their goals.

Cans are infinitely recyclable. Each time a can is recycled, the properties of the material are retained, enabling it to be used to make new cans, or other products such as cars, ships and planes, again and again. Yet, it is not enough for a material to be recyclable. There also needs to be infrastructure, processes and incentives in place to ensure the material actually gets recycled.

In Europe, the vast majority of cans get recycled. At the last count, 75% of all cans in Europe were being recycled.3​ That means three out of four cans go back into the system and are made into a new product. The rate of can recycling in Germany is 99%. Six other countries including Norway, Finland and Belgium recycle more than 90% of their cans.

A focus on sustainability as well as pre and post-pandemic changes in consumer habits and priorities are pushing food and beverage producers to adopt cans to create opportunities to tell brand stories in new, more impactful ways. CANPACK is using its deep expertise and leading-edge technology to help brand owners realise those value-creation opportunities.

Working with brand owners to create value through impactful, on-trend cans

CANPACK, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of metal packaging, has added another driver of the move toward greater use of cans. By investing in capabilities that support the brand experience, CANPACK has equipped itself to make packaging that stands out at the point of purchase and created opportunities to use cans to creatively tell brand stories.


Cans maximise the impact of the story brand owners choose to tell on their packaging. The large printable surface area, including the can end, enables creative execution of bespoke designs. With the use of high-resolution printing or a variety of different inks, including among others ones that change colour when exposed to certain stimuli, brand owners can create great consumer experiences. Temperature-sensitive inks can indicate if the beverage is cold enough. With inks reacting to sunlight, the lithography can change depending on whether the consumer is at home or outside and other inks shine under UV light or glow in the dark.

Equipped with a wide variety of inks, brand owners can design cans that have surprising effects, delighting consumers and increasing the likelihood that they will share photos or videos of the product on social media.


Brand owners can also change the feel of cans. Some finishes give a soft, satin effect that makes cans feel very tactile and fabric-like. Other finishes enable rougher surfaces that feel more like sandpaper, underlining elements of the can’s lithography. Other options include the use of coloured or printed ends and a range of tab refinements to complement can design and make the most of the moment of consumption.

Working with technology such as CANPACK’s Quadromix, brand owners can even deliver up to four completely different designs in one production batch. Multiprint, in turn, enables mixing up to 24 different elements of the lithography in one production batch. Using these capabilities, brand owners can create engaging promotional cans that feature different words and images, enabling them to tell new stories and create products that stand out on store shelves.4,5

Researchers have confirmed the effectiveness of varying elements of the packaging. In one study, researchers found consumers paid more attention to products featuring front of pack variations than a conventional single design.6​ The study shows featuring different words or images on packaging can improve shelf impact and promotional engagement.

Collaborating to create value

CANPACK collaborates closely with its partners at each step in the packaging design and production process, creating value along the way. Equipped with market insights, CANPACK works with agencies to provide creative support at the concept creation stage, before going on to use its infrastructure and expertise in design pre-testing and the rapid trailing of prototypes. In doing so, CANPACK helps its partners to fully explore the design potential of cans.

The combination of a large canvas and the diverse range of inks and finishes opens up near-endless possibilities. However a manufacturer or agency wants to position a brand, the technology exists to tell that story on the cans used to package a product. Brand owners that explore those possibilities in partnership with CANPACK will see come to cans as more than just packaging; they will realise cans are a vehicle for creative storytelling and value creation.

1. Juliano, L. The Grocer: Food-to-go.
2. Global Consumers Seek Companies That Care About Environmental Issues.​.
3. Aluminium beverage can recycling in Europe hits record 74.5% in 2017.​.
4. Canpack unveils Quadromix technology.​.
5. Sivasubramaniam, K. Canpack’s printing technology used to raise profile of endangered species.​ (2020).
6. Lacoste-Badie, S., Yu, J. & Droulers, O. Small change, big change – Increasing attention with product package variations. Food Qual. Prefer. 86, 104007 (2020).

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