January 26, 2024

7 Minute Read

Packaging Design: 4 Smart Trends to Explore in 2024

Discover How Packaging Impacts Consumer Choices: 4 Key Trends That Will Elevate Your Brand in Retail

Packaging. The Silent Hero in the Aisles of Consumer Choices. Or the Brand Assassin Slowly Dying in a Sea of Sameness.

Let's face it: we judge books by their covers and products by their packaging. It’s an extension of your brand to the consumer. And, in the grand theater of retail, packaging design is the unsung hero, quietly persuading you from the shelf to your cart. It doesn't shout; it doesn't need to. In this little narrative, we're diving into how packaging wields its silent superpower of persuasion to sway your buying decisions and, believe it or not, bring joy into your buying habits.


The "Love at First Sight" Packaging Design Effect:

Remember your first crush?

That's what happens in the retail world – but with packaging design. This is the story of love at first sight, or what Procter & Gamble elegantly termed "The First Moment of Truth." Amidst the jungle of shelves, packaging is that charismatic character that catches your eye and says, “Hey, Pick Me”. And sometimes, against all rational judgment, you do.

The question is, are you developing a 'Purple Cow' or a just falling into the status quo of what everyone else is doing. Set a new standard - Be remarkable. (If you haven’t already, read Seth Godin’s book the “Purple Cow” it’s amazing.)

seth-godin-purple-cow-design-mid-2So, let’s explore the different roles packaging can play for brands in the consumer’s buying journey.

Experience Packaging - The Emotional Charmer:

Packaging isn't just a box, bottle, or wrapper. It's a raconteur. The right packaging can make you feel things about a brand or product. A sleek, minimalist design whispers, "classy and sophisticated." A bright, bold package yells, "fun and adventurous!" And when you feel texture or a spot varnish, it's like that reassuring pat on the back saying, “I need this in my life”. Great example: Stanley, a 100-year-old brand, becoming relevant again. Transforming from an old-fashioned thermos used by construction workers to a fashion accessory for the trendiest of audiences to match their car, mood or yoga pants. Brilliant.

The Stanley Quencher's fandom continues to surge, with a 275% increase in sales year over year, and current U.S. sales up 751% year to date.

Stanley Brand packaging design

Sustainable Packaging - The Cool Kid:

Being in tune with the social climate is important and eco-friendly packaging is an expectation by consumers. It’s not just "nice to have"; it's a must-have. As a company, it’s a statement that says, “We’re committed to making the world a better place one package at a time, for you and for us.” Brands that get this get that gold star approval rating from consumers, retailers, and mother earth.

Sustainable Packaging design

Smart Packaging - The Surprise and Delighter:

Listen, packaging is something consumer’s touch, interact and engage with. So why not take full advantage of the opportunity while they have your brand in their hands to connect and start that relationship. There are so many ways to extend your reach beyond the package with the use of QR codes, NFC chips, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality – that this packaging doesn't just sit there on shelf. It can become a pathway inviting your audience into a whole new world of exploring (Insert Your Brand here). Maybe it sounds like tech wizardry, but it’s not that hard to implement. In the deep realm of packaging, Gandolf would approve.

Smart packaging design

Never Underestimate the Power of the Unboxing Experience

Nothing leaves a bigger impression than the unboxing of a product. The careful little details perfectly crafted around the product with intention. What does it say about the product if the company puts that much care into how they package it. When brands do a great job at reeling you in and making you feel like you are part of something bigger, you take notice. Manscaped , a men’s grooming product, does a really nice job. When you get your product it’s perfectly vacuum formed into the plastic accompanied with accessories and the box material is quality. Open the lid and you’re hammered with this gold, debossed messaging that’s funny, conversational, puts a smile on your face and makes you feel welcome. Immediate winner. High Five.

Take some time to think about the type of experience a customer has when opening your packaging. You have a captive audience, don’t waste the intimate interaction, or take it for granted. What indelible mark can you leave with them, what does it say about your company, brand? Everything matters. 

Unboxing Experience Manscaped

I’d suggest changing the lens on your packaging design strategy. Use it as a unique opportunity to connect, make friends and build community for your brand. It’s not just a bag or box that delivers product to the store, it truly can be the unsung hero of the consumer experience, or that silent assassin caught in the traps of trying to do or say too much. It's why we choose products as if by magic, but it's not magic; it's art, science, and a bit of psychology. Embrace the power of good packaging – not just to hold a product, but to hold your attention and win hearts and minds. If you’re not creating a memorable packaging experience, you’re at risk to the next competitive brand that shows up next to you on the shelf. Always be innovating.

Challenge yourself, your team and your agency to think outside, inside and all around the box. Come up with something worth talking about and watch what it’ll do for your brand's affinity, repeat customers and your bottom-line.

Onward. @DaveKorinek

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