One takeaway from 2020 is that the world became a lot more digital. This isn’t going to change in 2021 as the coronavirus pandemic keeps us Zooming, streaming and online shopping at higher levels than ever. This digital existence is also the biggest trend shaping packaging design for the year.
Digitally driven: social media friendly
Ecommerce was already on the rise prior to Covid-19. The pandemic has made online shopping explode though, increasing pressure on packaging designers to create product packaging that still grabs attention as a small image on a screen. This is coupled with the fact that there are now more online channels than ever to buy through.
Social media shopping has taken off which means designers now need to consider how packaging performs in larger feed images and flat lays, as well as ecommerce sites. As such, bold colour and graphic choices will continue to dominate packaging design this year to ensure products standout in these 2d visuals.
It’s also one of the reasons we’re seeing a rise in art inspired designs. Artists are experts at creating arresting colour and pattern combinations that draw attention which feeds perfectly into what packaging designers are trying to achieve.
Simple designs can also help with product and brand recognition even when a customer is quickly scrolling, or when viewed at different sizes.
Another factor is video commerce via the likes of Instagram’s IGTV and Reels which customers can now shop directly, plus the growing trend of livestream commerce.
It means packaging designers need to consider how products also perform when filmed, including potentially live video environments.
Questions include is it immediately clear how the product works or will the presenter struggle to open it? Does the design work from all angles? What if a presenter holds it in a certain way?
Digitally driven: designed for delivery
Deliveries, whether to a home address or a click and collect point, go hand in hand with online shopping.
As such, the ecommerce trend will drive more creative packaging designs that can stand up to rigours of the logistics industry and still pack a punch. This includes more letterbox friendly designs that reduce bulk to make postage easier and more cost effective. It will also include more creative packaging designs beyond the standard brown cardboard box as designers look to provide a more exciting home shopping experience.
Digitally driven: new communication channels
Another way that digital is shaping packaging design in 2021 is via the new communication channels that it offers. Through social media customers have a direct, and public, line to talk to brands and they aren’t afraid to use it.
Packaging designers are able to tap into this to understand what customers want whether it is noting the issues and complaints customers have with packaging to see how it can be improved, or requests for more sustainable packaging materials.
Brands need to take note of the questions and requests that customers are asking of them and their competitors via social media and feed that into their packaging designs in order to ensure they’re meeting customer needs.
In turn, these channels offer a great forum for instant feedback on new design ideas, colour suggestions and graphics which designers can use to gauge customer reception and hone their approach.
With 2021 looking as though it will largely be a continuation of the ‘new normal’, the increased shift to digital opens up new opportunities and requirements for packaging design this year. And with many of these digital trends unlikely to just disappear once we go back to ‘normal’, what is learnt this year may be applicable for many to come.
By Cate Trotter, Head of Trends at Insider Trends, London