As the years go by, innovative packaging remains as important as ever. Digital technology has opened the door for new approaches to packaging that are geared toward customer expectations. Here are four trends to watch out for in 2014.

1. Personalization
With variable printing and other cutting-edge solutions, it’s possible to personalize items at a low cost. Presses can easily deliver short-run packages, whether this means 1,000 copies or just a few. As a result, more companies are inviting consumers to personalize their items. For example, Heinz created a campaign that allowed customers to customize soup cans for their sick friends and family members, marketing company Digital Surgeons reported. According to Graphics Art Mag, companies are offering more options for customization, from the copy on the label to the dimensions of the carton itself.

2. User-Friendly
As packaging becomes more sophisticated, it can also be designed to make life easier for consumers. No matter what customers are up to, they want packaging that meets their needs. For instance, those with active lifestyles want to take small packages on the go, while some consumers want bags that reseal between uses to maintain freshness. Others want containers that store easily. In addition, these days, health conscious consumers are often interested in snack-sizes that will prevent them from binging. Companies are being asked to fulfill the diverse needs of shoppers. Whatever wants these consumers may have, companies should look for innovative solutions. In one forward-thinking example from Digital Surgeons, a wine company used recycled cardboard to make a new kind of bottle that is 85% lighter than glass but still recyclable. This shows that some of the most innovative companies address desires customers have yet to express.

3. Sustainable459952319
Consumers are becoming increasingly eco-conscious and are often on the lookout for companies that use eco-friendly packaging. The Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability market has reached $290 billion in just the U.S., according to Digital Surgeons. These consumers feel a personal responsibility for the environment and believe companies should facilitate this interest by providing better packaging. Companies can meet this need in several ways, such as using environmentally-friendly materials or adjusting their packaging so it can be easily re-purposed. Another key finding from Digital Surgeons is that the higher the household income level, the more likely consumers were to rate environmentally-friendly packaging as important to them. This means eco-friendly packaging could be a key consideration for certain luxury items.

4. See-Through
Shoppers are growing more interested in transparency, both in terms of ingredients and in the packaging itself. As controversy grows over genetically modified organisms, consumers want to know exactly what’s in the products they are consuming. In addition to revealing exactly where ingredients came from and how products were assembled, showing consumers exactly what they’re getting can help alleviate any fears or misconceptions. Transparent packages allow the product to speak for itself. However, showing the product shouldn’t mean sacrificing creativity. Rather than making the package entirely clear, businesses can make a window that shows the product but incorporates it into a larger design. This approach is hip, but it also provides the same kind of transparency that shoppers want.

Heather Hill, Marketing Manager at a healthcare packaging & solutions provider, contributed to this article.