The world may be in the midst of a global pandemic, but the giving of gifts goes on. In fact, it may even be growing as people look to show appreciation and love for one another when they can’t be together physically. When it comes to gifts, packaging has always had a big part to play. But how is that changing in a world with Covid-19?
Demand may be higher than ever
While gifts are given all year round, annual holidays are high points in the gift-giving calendar. This year though much of the world has been in lockdown during key holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, Eid and now Father’s Day. This means that most gift shopping is currently being done online. Shoppers are making their selection and having it shipped directly to the recipient without ever seeing or touching the product in person. As such, gift packaging has become more of a must-have than a nice-to-have option at the checkout. Whereas in the past the customer may opt to wrap a gift themselves, now they need products that are ready to be given. Brands who don’t already have gift packaging options will be using this time to introduce them. This is because not only is gift packaging a great way to communicate a brand, but it also plays into the popular unboxing video trend of the unboxing video. Shoppers are increasingly expecting some level of theatre when it comes to product packaging and nowhere is this higher than in gift packaging.
Ecommerce is the primary focus
When gifts are not being given in person, the packaging requirements change. For example, a beautiful multi-layered gift packaging design with all the bells and whistles may be extremely heavy or fragile to ship which makes ecommerce fulfilment difficult and/or costly. As such, the focus for many is on creating gift packaging that is ecommerce friendly. Again, this taps into an existing trend around subscription boxes. Pre-pandemic, customers were increasingly signing up to have products delivered directly to their home. That’s only likely to continue. One area that is likely to grow is letterbox-sized packaging that fits through the door. While in normal circumstances it means that a gift isn’t missed because someone is out of the house during delivery, at present it means the recipient doesn’t have to interact with the delivery person.
Supply chain shortages may drive innovation
The coronavirus pandemic has put a lot of pressure on packaging manufacturers. Whether it’s increased demand as food and healthcare sales shoot up or factories being out of action due to risks of staff falling ill, the industry is experiencing a supply and demand gap in some places. While this is a challenge for all, it may also be the opportunity for innovation. Gift packaging materials, for example, may change based on what is readily available. This might mean fewer fancy embellishments like holographic or metallic elements or embossed and texturised packaging in the short-term. But designers may also look to change their approach to use less materials in the first place. It could even drive a whole new brand identity for some companies. Afterall, it was because of material shortages after World War II that Hermes ended up with its now famous bright orange colour scheme.
By Cate Trotter, Head of Trends at Insider Trends, London