While it is often not given the credit it deserves, great packaging can either make or break an item. Packaging has evolved to no longer just the label on a bottle but rather how a brand is presented to the consumer as a whole. Due to the plethora of product offerings on the market today, making it harder than ever before to choose between so many similar items, consumers need more than just the functional nature of a product to draw them in. Innovative packaging is therefore a crucial element of any brand’s marketing plan in order to capture and retain a customer’s attention and influence their purchasing decision.
- Consumer is always right: To have a deeper understanding of what consumer trends are rather than just design trends will allow one to identify opportunity and be one step ahead in innovation. Don’t get caught up in the noise of what’s ‘hot and current’ but rather focus on what is needed by your market. Don’t be too influenced by design trends, including those from Europe, as these tend to change every six months and may leave you with an out-of-date design in no time. Trying looking south, to other developing markets for inspiration. Jason recommends opting for simple and engaging packaging that directly impacts customer loyalty and brand credibility, allowing you to be at the forefront setting trends.
- Evolve with trends: Design trends should evolve with the consumer’s wants and needs, as this is a primary role player in whether or not your packaging will succeed. It’s hard to assess each trends individual importance but it’s critical to manage them for your overall packaging success.
- Legislation is key: Packaging has progressed from an informational tool to an identification tool. Legislation is an ongoing trend and The Consumer Protection Act has had a significant impact on this process. There are specific requirements regarding design, size and use of product photography and typography, challenging designers to conceptualize new ways to appeal to consumers with attractive, yet compliant, packaging. It is always best to partner with an experienced designer who is aware of legal requirements, able to provide expert guidance and suggest ways of improving it. Jason further suggests breaking the project into phases, allowing the designer to become a consultant to you.
- Get Social: At present understanding consumer behaviour has become a vital component in design. Customer interaction is much more transparent – we can see this in social media and how it has played a role in informing clients of potential new innovations, trends etc. With the increasing use of mobile internet and smart-phones, manufacturers are now able to create interactions that go beyond the physical pack. Packaging will no longer simply be a physical box on a shelf, but will come to represent the brand in every sense. From competitions and additional product info to price comparisons, consumers are easily able to make the jump online. The consumer is now not only following a brand but the brand is able to communicate to the consumer directly, enabling the client to stay informed at all times. Social media darlings, Twitter and Facebook, have over the last year become influential marketing tools and this is forecasted to continue growing.
- Go Green! Technology is now enabling the product to be reused and recycled. Packaging is moving into a more green direction – one that reduces the waste of material. When ethics and ecological concerns are translated into packaging, consumers also associate a sense of well-being and security with the product and brand. The implementation of sustainable packaging indicate that consumers are now no longer requesting this to be included in the design strategy but rather expecting it to be the norm. Product designers are embracing this trend and creating new forms of packaging giving the consumer creative shapes and forms, using clever and innovative materials. As a result, packaging is no longer necessarily something that gets thrown away…
- All about the senses: Packaging is the first experience that the customer has with a brand and it should be a big moment. In 2013 there will be a continued experimentation with design treatments, print techniques and innovative finishes to really enhance the experience for the consumer who still likes the tangible. In the last year, illustration has also grown phenomenally. There is a real appreciation for the art because it’s the purest form of craft. It’s demonstrating with no digital alteration that you can draw, mark and communicate visually across a large audience. In a fast evolving world where everyone is trying to be original, hand drawn work brings back the human aspect, allowing it to feel friendlier. It is a fun and personal way to convey a brand’s message to their consumer.
Although these trends are important, brand design should be based on a client’s marketing objectives first and foremost, as it adds a lot of value to a business and is a real and tangible investment. If it is relevant, honest and well-made the return will be huge for the business.
Jason Kempen is creative director for Fountainhead Design.