ITASCA, ILL. — Look out Baby Boomers, millennials are gaining.
“This year in the U.S., millennials will overtake Baby Boomers in population,” said Mike Flood of Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. Millennials — people born in the early 1980s through the early 2000s — make up more than a quarter of the United States' population and have annual buying power of $200 billion, he said.
And, since Flood was speaking at the Plastics Caps and Closures Conference, he analyzed what that means for packaging. His job puts a premium on understanding such things. Flood is director of business closure solutioning for the Americas at Husky, which makes high-speed injection molding machines for packaging, medical and other markets.
“At the end of the day, millennials do value smart packaging, efficient packaging,” he said.
And “efficient” certainly describes PET bottles and their closures. Each year, they reduce weight by 5 to 6 percent. And good design helps. “That first moment of truth. It's the first impression where the consumer decides whether to purchase or not,” Flood said.
When making that decision, millennials want shopping to be a personal experience, buying unique products that can relate to — even engage the brand on social networking, Flood said. That opens up opportunity for digital printing to customize bottles and closures, he said.
“Millennials have grown up with plastic bottles,” Flood said, so they have no problems with wine and beer in plastic bottles.
They want products made of recycled content, that are sustainable, he said. And millennials — like the broader population — are seeking healthy products. Flood said packaging makers are seeing the emergence of smaller portion sizes, just enough to quench your thirst without wasting the rest.
Husky constantly tries to make its machines faster. At the 2012 Chinaplas show, the Bolton, Ontario-based machinery manufacturer debuted the HyCAP HPP (for High Performance Package), molding water bottle closures using a 72-cavity mold on a 1.85-second cycle. On the HyCAP HPP, the mold does not open and close. Instead, an internal part ejection system removes the caps and they drop below the mold, through openings.