Product Packaging Trends for 2018: 6 ways to be truly authentic

Packaging is all around us. From cans of soup on shelf stores, to taco plates at the food court, and home meal kit deliveries, you can’t avoid packaging. Though the basic premise remains the same from year to year, people’s expectations and desires for packaging change quite a lot. Here are 8 trends we see in 2018.

  1. Transparency: When we say transparency, we do indeed mean packages that are see-through, clear plastic bags, bottles, and boxes. When companies create a package that allow people to see the product without ripping it open, what they are really signaling to consumers is that they are open and honest about what their products really are. Consumers don’t have to purchase the product to find out if the shape, size, or colour depicted on the package is actually reflective of what’s inside. In addition to physical transparency, however, we also mean packaging that reflects a company’s mindset to be open and honest with consumers. By creating easy to read ingredient lists and clear and focused mission statements on their products, companies are being more transparent about who they are and what they offer. And people love it. For example, Naked fruit beverages have long used clear bottles, shared their mission statement (the goodness inside), and stated precisely how many pieces of fruit and vegetable are contained within each bottle.
  2. Colour: We could all use a bit of cheering up now and again and colour is a easy way to do it. Colour can evoke a full range of emotional responses from innocence, to authority, practicality, love, energy, and happiness. Diet Coke’s new flavours as packaged in these beautifully coloured cans are a testament to this trend. For instance, the purple Feisty Cherry can reflects wisdom and prosperity. The yellow Twisted Mango can reflects happiness and optimism. Choose your colours wisely!
  3. Digital integration: With the rise and spread of social media, many products are incorporating an online component. From encouraging brand specific hashtags (e.g., Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke, Always’ #LikeAGirl, ALS Association’s #IceBucketChallenge), inviting people to share photos of themselves with products, or giving people a discount if they ‘check-in’ on foursquare, many consumer products are taking the personal experience into the digital world.
  4. Responsible packaging: If we’re going to accuse millennials of ‘killing’ off products, then we also have to give them credit for demanding environmentally friendly products and services. Social media is full of people sharing images of overpackaged products – tiny plastic packages placed in boxes in bags in bubble wrap in plastic bags in boxes. And they’ve had enough. Packages that respect the environment, whether that means rectangular beverage bottles to reduce shipping and shelving costs or materials that are fully biodegradable, are sure to succeed. McDonald’s is already on board with this trend and promises that their packaging will be fully recyclable by 2025. Coca-Cola plans to recycle as many cans and bottles as it sells by 2030.
  5. Illustrations: Moving on from complicated graphics, current trends point to illustrations on packages, taking advantage of their ability to tell meaningful stories. The Toronto Transit Commission is using a beautiful illustration on many of its materials, one that showcases some the city’s best features including the CN Tower, the Skydome (you will not convert me!), and, of course, our racoons.
  6. Personalization: People want to feel special and one way to do this is through personalization. Snickers bars has been in on this trend for a long time with their creation of unique, fun names for their candy bars. Consumers can enjoy not only eating the candy, but also picking out the specific bar that reflects their mood at the moment. Similarly, Coca-Cola has created cans with individual names and unique descriptors on them. Doritos is the newest brand to take up this trend by offering ketchup Doritos in Canada. Just for Canadians. Just for me.

These trends are sure to inspire some beautiful packaging over the coming months. But remember. No matter how much the designers love the new package, if the package doesn’t resonate with people, it won’t be as successful as it could have been. As part of the packaging redesign process, be certain to include time and budget for a rigorous package test. Whether that means focus groups or in-home-usage tests, be sure you get the approval of your real boss – the consumer.

If you’d like to learn about package test options, including focus groups, recruit to central locations, mall-intercepts, or in-home-usage tests, please get in touch with us! We’d love to help you.

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