80 Years of Canny Innovations

The past 80 years has seen a rapid evolution of the beverage can. The continuous innovation displayed by the can making industry is indicative of its forward-thinking culture, continually looking to modernise and invigorate the beverage market. Here, we explore how cutting-edge technologies and techniques have most recently contributed to making the can the pack of choice for brands and consumers nationwide.

Pop-up straw
Much of the innovation in the can market is driven by the needs of the consumer, and the launch of a can containing self-activating straw is no exception. Created to enhance the way the consumer interacts with the can: when the tab on the drink is opened, a ‘magically-appearing’ straw pops up. This instantly makes the drink experience more comfortable by preventing the consumer from having to tip their head in order to drain the can.

Offering a spill-proof solution for consumers on-the-go, brand engagement is also improved through the addition of lasered logos, images or messages to the straw itself.

Cans with coloured ends and matching tabs
Leaving its mark at POS, drink brands can now add a wide array of coloured ends and tabs to their cans. Perfect for differentiating a drink from its competitors in a crowded market, the end gives the can the extra ‘wow factor’ it needs to pop on the shelf.

Developed to further brand visibility, the new rainbow of hues gives the customer the exciting product it’s looking for and could prove vital for those looking to make a memorable statement at POS; as part of the can’s 360-degree design options, the colored ends successfully help lift the brand message.

Beverage accessibility
Let’s also consider how innovation on the top of the can is enhancing the drinking experience. Full aperture cans are currently gaining recognition. Cans featuring this attribute (i.e. where the end can be peeled off completely) have now appeared in the shortlist for the 2016 Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association awards and are being sold by at least one craft beer brand in London.

It’s an innovation that could prove popular at sporting events and music festivals where consumers are keen to drink their beverages on the go. It has also been praised for accentuating the aroma of the beverage for the consumer – perfect for aromatic drinks like beer.

Of course, removable ends may not be suited to every occasion so it’s important to recognise a can innovation, now so common-place, it is regularly overlooked and taken for granted: the ring-pull. Retained ring-pulls weren’t in widespread use until the early 1990s, but since then companies have been maximising their potential. Coloured, lasered and shaped tabs draw the eye of the consumer and have been used to celebrate brand logos, introduce competitions and in the marketing campaigns of many of the world’s biggest brands.

The can has come a long way since it was first used to contain beverages 80 years ago; it’s certainly not a product that remains frozen in time. Every year we see new innovations launched to enhance the can for the benefit of the consumer, the drinks brand and the marketer; we can’t wait to see what happens next!

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