Packaging Trends and the role of Disruptive Packaging

Posttime:2013/10/23    Source:Lirui Packaging

We are constantly trend watching. Anyone who is involved in packaging is always being asked what are the current trends, which trends should we be following and the hardest of them all, what is coming around the corner and what will be the next big trend. For me there is a simple common aspect of all good trends. They disrupt and they are different from the current norm and this is how they get noticed and how, therefore, the trend grows.

There may be contradictory trends at the same time. A good example of this is the use of colour. We have seen growth in the use of big bold, non-traditional food colours. Alongside this we have also seen the trend for natural, simple colours inspired by nature. Then there are the brands that turn this on its head. A good example of this is Ella’s Kitchen, organic, natural baby food packaged in the brightest, non-food colours that you can find.

This use of colour really stands out on the baby food aisle. Ella’s have taken it to the next level by using the colour as the product descriptor, the Red One, the Green One, the Purple One.
This is another trend that we’ve seen, confident brands dropping traditional brand names and product descriptors for bold, engaging, descriptive  and instructional names.

Fruit Bowl and Baxter’s have taken the “it does what it says on the tin” approach by helping the consumer know how the product should be used. The consumer immediately gets the message, they know how to use the product. These brands have also created an emotional response, “School Bars” give an honest and wholesome feel. Any parent knows that only “good” food can go into  lunch boxes. The first time I saw the “Stay Full” tin I can remember imaging being full and the contentment that brings.
Naming the product to achieve an emotional response  has been taken to the next level by Heinz with the labelling of their iconic Tomato Ketchup. Following on from the Selfridges “No Noise” campaign where iconic brands were stripped back to basics.
Heinz have taken this concept a step further with a range of labels and descriptors that directly engage consumers. A trend which is becoming more and more main stream is the personalised trend. Coke have recently moved from small scale “designed for me” labels to a mass market of named bottles.
From this campaign, I have observed that people are not too worried about having their name on the bottle. Consumers want to have a bottle that is different from their friends and colleagues  Having an individual design has also been exploited by Absolute Vodka with their 4 million uniquely decorated bottles.

Well known designer or premium non food brands such as Coke have joined together with Marc Jacobs and Jean Paul Gautier, San Pellegrino and Bvlgari, Gordon’s Gin and Jasper Conran.

It would not be possible to discuss trends without mentioning the enormous reaction in the UK to the Jubilee and Olympics last year which has evolved into a general trend for nostalgia and heritage. This is not unique to the UK and can been seen in designs across the world with brands reaching back to old designs. Are we returning to simpler, more honest times? This nostalgia has coincided with a recession, a time when the trust placed in brands always becomes apparent. Many brands grow stronger in times of recession when the consumer stays true to the established brand values and is less willing to experiment. However I believe that the Jubilee and Olympics trends last year also effectively demonstrated another issue with trends. This is that we following trends for trends sake There were numerous poor examples of pack design that spawned on the back of a cheesy Jubilee based pun and a bit of bunting.. They were cheap and hurried and did nothing for the brand.

Not all trends are suitable for all brands, avoid the obvious and lazy. If the design does not spark an involuntary positive emotional reaction in the consumer, don’t do it! I still remember the reaction I had to a  Limited Edition dishwasher tablet packet! Trends should be about catching the mood of the time and linking that emotion to the product via design.

What  is the next big trend?

These are my predictions for 2013/14:
“Made for me” and emotional links to the product will continue
Simple, natural designs will continue as a proxy for environmental packaging

Disruption with colour, shape and substrate.

The big one to watch in the coming months and years will be knowing when the time is right to move from the emotions of austerity to new confidence, moving from looking back to looking forward with curiosity and developing the new and radical again. This will only come when the consumer is ready to experiment with their hard earned money once more.

More information, contact Ms. Carmen Gong:, Skype: liruipacking.

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