Designing a package to perfectly mesh with a cultural
or social trend can enhance the product and the brand.
Our changing times are
defined by trends, which amplifies the challenge for marketers to capture
the essence of a trend as it emerges. Timing is everything. And while some
brand marketers understand they can connect with consumers functionally,
aesthetically and emotionally when their products are grounded in a trend,
many overlook trends when it comes to package design, often resorting to
stock solutions. One reason may be that they and their design teams
don’t really understand how to translate a trend into an actionable
packaging solution. So, here’s a review:
Match the trend to your brand and target
Forward-thinking designers are beginning to realize
the importance of connecting with trend strategists to understand the
needs, desires, values and passions that motivate people to make decisions,
and to grasp how a trend can relate to a particular product or target. But
marketers should be specific about who and what they apply trends to, as
not all trends are relevant to all lifestyle segments, demographic groups
or to all brands or product categories. This level of understanding is the
foundation of connecting with the consumer viscerally, and can offer a
window into the consumer’s psyche and emotions.
Take inspiration from other products or
Because they operate on ever-shortening product
lifecycles, the fashion and beauty industries (and others like them)
manifest trends long before consumer packaged goods brands ever do.
You’ll find that it is often beneficial to examine how a trend
you’ve identified as important is affecting other products,
categories and industries, and how those manifestations can inform your
Invite consumers “living the trend”
to your ideas
Once you identify a trend and designate it relevant to
your brand, you’ll need to ensure that your resulting package designs
are, in fact, speaking the language of consumers who are already living the
trend. Guide consumers through visual language exercises, functional
hands-on evaluations and shelf and use connections to guide your designs.
Yes, these are simple steps, but they are too often
overlooked. And look at how beautifully they can be applied. The makers of
Arm & Hammer, for instance, understood that consumers are increasingly
looking to take charge of their lives and have more control over their
environment. Their solution was a functional one: the Fridge Fresh package,
with a replacement indicator bar that tells the user when the baking soda
is past its prime and a flow-through-designed air filter that provides
added confidence of freshness because it exposes the interior of the fridge
to twice as much baking soda as the conventional one pound box.
Trends can also be applied via package aesthetics.
Consider one that Iconoculture, a trend strategy firm, has labeled
“Get Real”, which describes consumers’ growing demand for
authentic experiences and possessions in a world that is more and more mass
marketed everyday. Armed with this insight, a designer would consider
unadulterated package solutions, which might manifest in their choice of
materials, the uniqueness of their design or the hand-crafted look and feel
of the end product. Bear Naked granola packaging is a good example: simple
structure, simple graphics and consumers can see what is inside.
Another brand that has connected with this same
consumer segment is Mountain Valley Spring Water. The company created a
bottle that reinforces the brand’s authenticity and heritage. The
bottle’s green tint evokes nature and reminds consumers of the
natural origins of the water, while an embossing of the phrase “Since
1871” reminds consumers of the brand’s history.
Of course sustainability is another big shift, and
brands are beginning to realize that environmentally friendly solutions are
slowly becoming the cost of entry. This trend has implications in the
choice of materials, features and the move towards minimal or refillable
packaging. Take Aveda’s new Nourish-Mint lip color, which is housed
in a refillable, 96 percent post-consumer-recycled resin lip case designed
to minimize packaging waste by encouraging reuse.
So take these brands as inspiration. Can your
packaging embrace a current consumer trend? Yes. Could it result in
stronger emotional consumer connections for your brand? Absolutely. Just
remember that inspirational design can only be fueled by analyzing current
trends and the consumer values that drive them early in the development
process. And then work to translate those trends into an actionable
solution that can best ensure brand loyalty and longtime marketplace