When consumers’ fundamental needs are considered before the creative process begins, the end result generates interest through beauty, function and relevance. Knowing what makes consumers tick and how the industry is evolving can help you move the creation of your future business in the right direction. Let’s have a look at four trends that are playing a crucial role on the packaging design scene right now. Get ready for the integration of tactile elements, smartness that matters, the challenges posed by interruptions and much more.
#1 TOUCHING REALITY.
We have five senses for a reason: together they help us understand and fully experience our surroundings. In the last few decades, visual experiences have been explored in all possible directions (e.g. virtual reality, augmented reality). At the same time, cognitive neuroscience has made a great deal of progress in the study of the human mind and of the principles that help to determine our behaviour. Touch is one of the most important senses when it comes to driving consumer behaviour. The increasing lack of texture in people’s lives makes experiences become one-dimensional. So, in 2017, smart brands will be focusing more on how their products feel. By elevating the details and integrating tactile elements, companies will consequently need to have a clear strategy for the tactile components of their brand.
– What are the tactile elements of your product/brand?
– How can you create brand recognition across senses?
– How can you further elevate the details?
A good example:
Orangina is a good example of a global icon that established tactility as part of their brand early on through the orangepeel textured glass bottle. In 2015, they switched to plastic with a new curvy bottle – yet the iconic texture remained consistent. The spirits industry also has many great examples in which all of the senses are utilised. Temple Distilling, for example, recently upgraded one of their brands, where instead of making big changes to the shape of the bottle or the graphic design, they made subtle changes in the form of tactile and visual material effects. The result: packaging that doesn’t just look great, but feels great as well.
#2 SHARING AND CARING.
We live in a world full of alarms: conflicts, terror and environmental disasters. Consumers are increasingly worried and aware. In response, they begin to see environmentally responsible products not only as a good move for the future, but as a paradigm shift that needs to happen now. The circular economy suggests that our products will no longer just support our own needs, they will participate in a much larger system. In 2017, we will need to continue pushing the boundaries of the circular economy and rethink products in terms of the entire value chain. As part of this movement, we need to see many more companies and organisations working together across silos to achieve better consumer behaviour and encourage responsible consumption. Consumers are realising that their current consumption patterns need to be changed. To make this happen, they are turning to the companies that respond and turn their promises into actions.
– Think circularity, think across value chain, rethink waste.
– How can you start with small actions (instead of the big words)?
– How can your products/services be participants in a bigger system?
A good example:
From trash to treasure: together with leading experts, labs and material innovators, Parley gives plastic trash a new life and turns it into yarn and fabric for the fashion and luxury industries, polymers for beauty products, or raw materials for use in packaging and construction. Another recent example of rethinking waste is created by rum brand Fitzroy. They designed a rum packaging in which the caps are made from discarded Coca-Cola labels.
#3 LESS IS THE FUTURE.
We live in an age of interruptions. Even though the connected world offers us both convenience and social interactions, consumers are increasingly seeking meaningful and simpler experiences offline. People are looking for personal enrichment beyond the worlds of work, social media, and city life – some are escaping to the outdoors, others leave their phones at home when going to a restaurant with their friends. People are getting increasingly overwhelmed by certain things, and complicated packaging with too much material is connected to stress and irresponsibility. So now, not only do companies need to address the physical needs of the consumer, they also need to address the consumer’s spiritual and emotional well-being. There is a constant challenge to make slimmer products which are both easy and intuitive to use. The goal should be to reduce the clutter on the shelves, and ensure top-notch integration between the product and the packaging.
– How can you consider consumers’ spiritual and emotional well-being?
– How can you simplify your packaging?
– How can you be simple, bold, intuitive and reduce the clutter?
A good example:
Lightweighting is now part of almost every brand owner request. Ecover’s washing liquid bottles have been inspired by the skeleton structures of algae. By applying the same principles of that skeleton structure, Ecover was able to create an aesthetically pleasing plastic bottle that uses 15 per cent less plastic without losing mechanical capacity. Reducing rather than adding is the essence of minimalistic design thinking. Many health juice bottles are minimising their label sizes, using the juice’s colour as a backdrop of the design. This is a good way of giving the consumers what they want – less fuzz and more nature!
#4 MAKE SMART MATTER.
Consumers can shop anytime, anywhere, and are becoming increasingly demanding in terms of convenience. New technology which is integrated into consumers’ product experiences is only going to grow, advances are being made in materials science, and components are getting smaller. As this sector is quickly evolving in many areas, one thing is clear: consumers and brand owners now want usable products that add real value to their lives, rather than short-term marketing gimmicks. How can smart components help prevent food waste, ensure product safety, generate and store meaningful data for medical purposes, or make the weekly shopping easier? Consumers are embracing the intelligence which is seamlessly integrated in their reality. It is the marriage of technology and simplicity that will help brands connect with consumers in exceptional ways.
– What real consumer problems need to be solved?
– How can you create a seamless experience, integrated into consumers’ lifestyle?
– How can the solution be intuitive?
A good example:
Amazon Go is a new kind of store with no checkout required. Amazon created the world’s most advanced shopping technology so you never have to wait in line. Use the Amazon Go app to enter the store, choose the products you want, and go! Amazon uses sensors, video technology and AI algorithms to create this convenient shopping experience. Or take another example: Counterfeit wine is a major problem worldwide, but especially in China. The Smart Wine Bottle, with Thinfilm Open Sense technology, can detect a product’s sealed and open states and wirelessly communicate content to a smartphone or device.
About Kristina de Verdier.
Kristina de Verdier is a designer and strategist, based in Sweden, who works with human-centred packaging design for brands globally. Since 2014, Kristina has managed her own studio, where she helps companies create holistic and bespoke design solutions using consumer insight, strategy and design.