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Packaging Trends 2011 and 2012


Jason Kempson - Jul 15th 2011, 16:56

“Packaging has to grab the consumers’ attention, relate to their own identities and create an emotional connection – in a matter of seconds,” states Jason Kempen, Creative Director at Fountainhead Design. Fountainhead is a boutique design and communication agency established in Cape Town in 1995, specialising in premium packaging, corporate identity and brand collateral. A renowned leader in the local design industry and firm believer that packaging is the image of the product, Jason shares his views on key packaging trends to keep an eye on in 2011 and 2012.

Imagine yourself as a consumer. What’s the first thing that attracts you to a product –the expiration date, price or the packaging? Statistics have indicated that the average in-store consumer views the product’s packaging as the most important factor to consider before purchasing a product.

Throughout the years, packaging has evolved from an information tool to an identifying tool and, at present, is the focal mechanism used by consumers when relating product experience. Packaging has evolved from a mere functionality (housing a product). It has now become an intricate part of the consumer decision making process. Creating simple and engaging packaging that directly impacts customer loyalty and brand credibility will always be at the forefront of design trends.

Robert Sertic, my partner at Fountainhead, points out that, “Approximately 70% of all purchasing decisions are made in-store. With consumers spending an average of only twenty minutes in-store, it’s clear that packaging plays a critical role in influencing consumer purchasing decisions and how they engage and interact with the product.”

Being the key communicator between the consumer and manufacturer, packaging communicates the core value of the product. If designers ensure that the message of their packaging designs is clear and well-communicated, while sustaining the product’s brand value, the odds of influencing consumer decision making and spending behavior will definitely be in favour of their client.

From multinationals to the smallest of agencies, this realisation has become more apparent, with the trend towards killing two birds with one stone prevailing – creating packaging which is innovatively designed and efficient, yet still meaningful to the consumer. Designers must ensure that their creations are unique and distinctive, in order to guarantee meeting the needs of the market, while building brand value and awareness for their client’s product.

KISS is King

"Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art." – Frank Lloyd Wright, architect and designer of NYC’s Guggenheim Museum.

Keep It Simple and Straightforward. This should be the slogan that all design agencies consider when formulating their packaging designs. Industry specialists are moving towards packaging designs that are unambiguous, concise, and much more simplified, thereby providing consumers with greater clarity regarding product information.

With the changes in legislation and the steady evolution of the FMCG market, it’s a constant challenge for designers to remain on top of the market. As a result, local designers should opt for developing packaging designs which are less “trend based” and focus instead on creating packages that are classic and timeless.

The single-minded design is becoming particularly apparent at the higher end of the market, with packaging becoming more conceptual and design-focused in order to create brand “moments” that are memorable and drive future sales.

Open Innovation & Client Collaboration

With the growing needs of clients in various industries, designers should be inventive and think well while problem solving. Design challenges include finding creative methods to transform complex client briefs into an end-product which is innovative, efficient and sustainable.

To ensure that the end-product meets these requirements, designers have taken it upon themselves to indulge in the trend of open innovation. This trend of mutual collaboration between supplier and designer is becoming key to packaging design success. It guarantees that the supplier has a clear understanding of what’s required from both parties, while exposing designers to new technologies – resulting in an improved end-product for client.

Sustainability & Green Consciousness

An important trend in packaging is sustainability and the use of sustainable materials – without foregoing cost efficiency and overall consumer value. When ethics and ecological concerns are translated into packaging, consumers associate a sense of well-being and security with the product and brand at hand.

The implementation of sustainable packaging supports consumers in streamlining and uncluttering their lives. Surveys show that more than three quarters of consumers would prefer a simpler, less complicated lifestyle. Statistics indicate that consumers are willing to pay more for environmental packaging – reflecting its growing importance. Designers should commit to measurable sustainable packaging goals that will ensure that all routes towards sustainable packaging are evaluated and contribute towards educating the consumer about sustainability and its importance.

Biodegradability and nanotechnology are becoming hot trends not only in packaging designs, but in all industries across the board, from beauty and food to the health and pharmaceutical sectors. As a result of global warming, consumers are more aware of the importance of reducing their carbon footprint. With this is mind, designers should ensure that they have an understanding of how their packaging will contribute towards recycling and what type of affect it will eventually have on the environment.

Ensuring that on-shelf packaging has green credentials is an important factor that should be thought through by all design agencies. The ultimate responsibility and execution of re-usable packaging lies with the manufacturer who should implement environmentally-friendly initiatives in all that they do.

Baltasar Gracian, a proponent of maximum significance coupled with minimum form, is known for his simple yet astute observation that, “"Things do not pass for what they are, but for what they seem. Most things are judged by their jackets." If designers aim to be successful when developing and launching new packaging ideas, it’s essential for them to keep abreast of the major trends as they evolve from year to year. Packaging is the image of the product. Ensure that your packaging design is equipped with a tailor-made jacket.

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