4 Packaging Trends of 2018

Feb 22, 2018

Packaging is constantly evolving, and each year there are new trends to factor into a packaging strategy. But with the shift towards more products being ordered online, some feel product packaging isn’t as relevant in today’s market—but it’s actually the opposite. Packaging is more important than ever and the design, graphics, materials, and messaging used are all of equal importance.

Why? Packaging will continue to be a critical component of the customer experience. Even though it may have less of an influence on a purchase decision online, it’s still essential that it connects with consumers upon delivery. So ask yourself if your packaging is up to par and whether or not it adds value to the customer experience. If not, there may be potential to incorporate a few of these packaging trends into your strategy in 2018.

1. Personalized & Interactive

cocacola bottles and snickers bars

Personalization and interactivity are two of the top drivers for customer experience regardless of if we are talking about the packaging or product itself. As we know, market research and access to more data contribute to the ability to understand audiences at a deeper level in order to build products and packaging specific to consumers.

Personalization, specific to packaging, most often impacts the messaging and design on a pack. For example, gender-specific products, or products with a regional aspect (such as sporting goods), provide ample opportunity for personalization. However, today brands are thinking more creatively about how to increase the personalization of their products. Just look to Coca-Cola who led the trend back in 2014 by putting names on individual Coca-Cola bottles.

Because personalization doesn’t just create a stronger brand loyalty but also increases engagement, other companies like Snickers and Doritos have followed suit. Snickers places different emotions on their candy bars to depict what consumers may be feeling as they reach for a snack and Doritos provides unique flavors based on geographic tastes.

Interactivity can also be specific to the actual packaging form. Kids toy companies have been utilizing interactive aspects in their packaging for years. Boxes that convert into a baby doll’s bed or double as a race track are just a few examples. Nowadays, it’s all about making the product reveal as exciting as possible—like multiple layers and accessories unfolding as you open a package. Just look at all the YouTube sensation around unboxing a product and you’ll find brands of all sorts from electronics to beauty are stepping up their game in interactive packaging.

2. Sustainable 

Sustainable practices have been of significant importance for years. While many brands have already worked to adopt sustainable practices, more effort will be put into extending their activities and communicating this to consumers. Following the principles of the 3 R’s, brands can take many steps to improving sustainability in packaging:

  1. Reduce: Minimizing the carbon footprint when it comes to creating packaging materials.
  2. Reuse: Incorporating more multi-purpose or reusable packaging that is also easy to store and carry (in order to remove the need for additional packaging or resources).
  3. Recycle: Making it easier for products to be cleaned (in the case of food) and recycled easily.

Meal delivery or subscription box brands have to be especially careful with sustainability because as they grow in popularity their practices may come under scrutiny. Companies can utilize market research to help prioritize what aspects of sustainability are most important to their products. Specifically, exploratory research can help to understand how certain consumers think about sustainability relevant to different product categories.

3. Contemporary

Packaging designs are usually the most fun for organizations to get creative with, especially as brands are becoming fearless and working to capture consumers’ attention. Bold colors, custom calligraphy or unique fonts, and retro designs are just a few examples of the contemporary design trends taking hold in industries from consumer packaged goods to food and beverage.

Limited edition and throwback packaging designs also fall under this trend for products like beer, coffee, and established consumer products. And because integrating these design changes with a social media campaign is also likely to take place, testing the two together, and utilizing research tools like heatmaps can help understand what design elements are truly resonating.

4. Transparent

Last, but not least, the trend around transparency in packaging is three-fold. Transparency, in general, is important to building trust and emitting a positive brand image. Consumers are looking for brands to translate transparencies onto packaging by

  • Keeping communication and product claims on pack simple and straightforward
  • Using clear and succinct labels for ingredients and nutritional information
  • Literally making the packaging clear so they can see the product inside

The product industry and type of consumer will determine the hierarchy or importance of these trends in 2018. However, packaging testing, prioritization, and refinement can be hard to justify after going through concept testing (as it’s the last step in the process). But as you can see it’s critical to a customer experience, and based on these trends, it’s more relevant than ever. Ensure your packaging is on point and learn more about our methods for packaging research in this report. You’ll also see how a small craft brewery used our Concept Prioritizer™ to test contemporary designs for their beer label.

Written By

Nicole Burford

Nicole Burford

Digital Marketing Manager

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