Packaging can go through trends like fashion, driven by changes in customer preferences. It is also affected by changing government regulations. Here are a few of the latest trends in the packaging of food and drink.
Minimalism in packaging is a direct rejection of the over-packaging of a few years ago. The box or container is only as large as it needs to be to protect the item. Packaging designers are dumping the protective plastic shell sitting in a cardboard cutout box in favor of a single protective and decorative package. The entire package is designed to serve several purposes so that retailers can take it out of the large shipping container and put it directly on the shelves.
This trend toward consolidated, minimalist packaging is driven by several factors. One is environmentalism. Don’t make a three layered package when you can get by with less material. This often dovetails with the need to cut costs. Smaller protective packages allow you to fit more product in the same shipping box, reducing shipping costs and saving fuel. Retailers prefer products that require less effort to unpack and stock, since this reduces their labor costs.
Food packaging presents a challenge for manufacturers. You have to present a massive amount of information to the consumer without overwhelming them. This includes but isn’t limited to the key ingredients, nutritional information, allergy warnings, and marketing related terms that help sell it like locally produced, organic, clean and heathy. Somewhere in there, you have to maintain the color scheme for the brand and the product’s name.
This may be one reason why food manufacturers are shifting to fewer overall ingredients. It is not simply a play on the public’s desire to know what they’re eating and the belief (true or not) that less is more. When you don’t have as many ingredients in the product, you don’t have to print as much text on the package.
The minimalist trend is even being seen on the packages labels themselves. Instead of complex colorful graphics, you get a minimalist logo and only the text you need. It is a rejection of the glitzy foils and neon colors of a few years ago. And it is cheaper to manufacture. However, you still get bold colors, because you still have to stand out from the competition on the shelf. Occasionally, you get packages made to resemble the product itself like taking the shape of the food. Now it clearly communicates what is inside, a plus in a multi-lingual world, while requiring fewer overall materials and a generally lower cost. The other impact of the minimalist trend is to print the text or logos directly on the protective packaging instead of using stickers. The product ends up being easier to make and recycle.
A Shift from Brand Specific Colors
Colors for a long time were used to communicate what company made the product. The color scheme of the product matched the color scheme of the logo. Now colors are being used to communicate the flavor, while the logo itself communicates what brand it is. For example, the same shades are used to identify diet soda or orange soda, regardless of who made it.
Personalization is a way companies can stand out from the mass-produced crowd. While not every food manufacturer can personalize their products, those that can often do. Shipping products with a personalized label like a drink bottle with the person’s name emblazoned on it makes them feel special and increases their loyalty to the brand.