It’s a new year and a new decade, which means new developments in the world of packaging. Here are the three trends that are going to dominate the industry in 2020:
Sustainability has been a major focus of 2019 and it’s not going away for 2020. Customers are more conscious than ever about what they’re buying – and are very vocal when they believe that packaging is excessive and unnecessary.
From the individual product packaging through to delivery, every part of the retail chain will continue to minimise its packaging usage and to explore the use of new materials. Expect to see more and more brands exploring alternatives to plastic, particularly recyclable or lab-grown materials.
Sustainability will also see brands pare down their packaging design – particularly new names wanting to make an impact. This means that designers will be having to rethink some of the traditional design concepts to find ways to minimise.
We’ve already seen technical innovation playing a role in packaging, but this is likely to amp up even more in 2020.
Augmented reality (AR) enabled packaging is a great way to simply update traditional or iconic designs without having to change them. It relies on the consumer’s device to unlock a new type of content and information from brands – far more than could ever be included on traditional packaging.
In theory, connected packaging eliminates the need for traditional labelling altogether. Sustainable cosmetics brand Lush has removed labels from many of its pre-wrapped gift sets because customers can use an app to browse the contents inside digitally. Connected packaging also opens up a new channel of communication for brands to be more transparent with customers by letting them learn about everything from the ingredients used to where it’s been shipped from.
But packaging will also be getting smarter in other ways. For example, we’re now starting to see some of the world’s biggest brands imprinting their packaging with microscopic bar codes which make sorting it for recycling easier. We expect to see more of these types of innovations being incorporated in 2020’s packaging.
Packaging that takes a good photo is going to be hugely important going forward. Whereas once it was all about what a product looked like on the shelf, now more and more shoppers are buying online. This means that the packaging has to not just look good in person when the customer gets it in their hands but be eye-catching when photographed – even when displayed as a small icon on a page of shopping results.
Likewise, many of us are shopping through social media channels like Instagram. We discover products through the images and videos shared by others. Many up-and-coming direct-to-consumer brands have become hugely successful by creating packaging that people want to take photos of. What’s more, many of the designs are instantly recognisable which builds brand exposure even when people only see images online.
As a result, we’re likely to see even more distinctive packaging designs emerging in 2020 as brands strive to carve out an individual presence.
By Cate Trotter, Head of Trends at Insider Trends, London