The beverage industry is booming with continuous launches of new craft beers, sodas, energy drinks, and healthy or performance-enhancing beverages. Significant growth in these segments is an indicator of consumer excitement over the new beverage choices available on store shelves. However, as options continue to grow, package design plays an increasingly important role in driving awareness at point of purchase.

In support of its “Open Up to Cans” campaign, the Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) commissioned consumer insight research to better understand how beverage packaging impacts consumer preference and drinking experience. The results highlight the importance of the can’s graphic, sensory and functional benefits for consumers, which could affect decisions made by beverage package designers and marketers.

The in-depth research, which consisted of qualitative and quantitative analysis, was conducted through three research lenses to understand the role of beverage packaging containers at all points of the consumer experience, from the point of purchase to consumption. Participants were studied across four core areas: product taste, performance, sustainability and innovation.

The research revealed a key finding: The 360-degree  graphics possible on cans sell beverage brands; visuals play an essential role at the point of purchase. In fact, 72 percent of consumers agree that the “unique shape and printing space on cans — images and designs — catch [the] eye more than other beverage containers.” This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the high value that consumers put on design, which presents tremendous opportunity to beverage brands.

Cans offer a wraparound canvas; every inch is available for eye-catching 360-degree high-resolution visuals. Cans deliver a unique branding experience that consumers appreciate, even encouraging them to step outside of their comfort zone to try something new based on graphics alone. In fact, nearly half (48 percent) of consumers surveyed said they have tried a new type of beverage based purely on the look of its container label and graphics. Additionally, 56 percent prefer canned packaging because the labels completely cover the entire package.

Performance on these key attributes positions cans as a lead packaging option for designers and marketers when launching new beverages. Additional findings from CMI’s research highlight other important can advantages:

  • Eighty-five percent of consumers believe that cans protect the taste experience by effectively blocking out the damaging effects of light and help preserve flavor and carbonation.
  • Eighty-one percent say the infinite recyclability of the can matters to them, confirming that sustainability continues to be important to consumers.
  • Fifty-three percent of consumers find packaging very or extremely important when choosing a beverage.

Since the introduction of the modern aluminum beverage can in 1959, the packaging industry continues to evolve according to changing consumer preferences and demands. As this new research reveals, the next wave of innovation for the can will be driven by creative visuals and eye-catching graphics. It’s no longer just about brand names — the brand experience and the vehicle used to deliver beverages to consumers matter as well. The can helps optimize that experience.

The full research findings can be found at, an educational resource for beverage packaging professionals and brands to learn more about the benefits of the can.