It’s what consumers see, pick up, hold, and take home with them – it’s a literal and figurative touchpoint between your brand and your customers.
That means you need to be absolutely certain your product packaging is worth bringing home. As we wrote,
Good design is a signal to customers that they should buy from you.
This is true not only online, but also for physical products.
We all want to believe that consumers make decisions on products and services strictly based on merit, with the best one winning. In spite of that hope, psychologists and retailers agree that in many cases this just isn’t true. Quality aside, sometimes the flashier, prettier or sexier product wins the day.
So what does this mean for retailers and product manufacturers? What it means is that creating a terrific product is only part of the formula for sales success. Packaging it perfectly, complete with eye-catching graphics and colors, is just as important to your financial success.
Make sure your packages don’t get left on the shelves in 2019 because of dated, unattractive design.
Here’s are 2019 packaging design trends that are accessible, attractive, and easily adapted for any business.
- minimalist packaging
- sustainable packaging
- soft neutrals, pastels, and patterns
- unusual/playful package graphics
- black and white colors
- transparent packaging
- cause-friendly package graphics
- vintage packaging design
- package graphics that tell a story
- use of gradients in package graphics
- artisan package graphics
Let’s take a closer look at each of these trends.
Think you can get a perfect score?
With all of the nostalgia for the brashness and brightness of 80s and 90s, minimal design might come as a relief for the eyes.
Keeping things simple might be a safe choice.
However, there are other reasons to opt for simplicity – and it’s not always because minimalism plays it safe.
Reducing a product’s packaging design to its essence is a powerful way to truly hone your brand.
Do you want to create a lasting, striking impression on consumers?
Let your product speak for itself.
Minimal packaging design allows the integrity of your product to shine through.
It can provide a break for consumer eyes weary of bright, cluttered packaging adorned with outrageous or ornate design work.
Minimal design can also bolster a brand’s personality.
Imagine a beauty product with a sparse, uncluttered package, or a cleaning product with a truly clean design.
Just because something is minimal, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s simplistic.
The goal is to strip away what’s unnecessary from a package’s design until only the essential remains.
This gives your product a truly clean slate on which to shine.
With more and more focus on the impact of packaging waste, it’s more important than ever that designers and companies think green.
It’s not just the right thing to do. A Nielsen study found that 66 percent of global consumers said they would pay more for sustainable brands.
Many studies on the buying habits of Millennials found a preference for sustainable products as well. A different Nielsen study found that 3 out of 4 Millennials and 72 percent of Gen Z polled would pay more for a product with sustainable packaging.
We have looked extensively at sustainability in product and packaging design. We found that:
Packages that use green materials like recycled aluminum save energy and reduce landfill waste. This is compelling for environmentally concerned consumers.
As increasing numbers of consumers demand sustainable products and packages, this trend will continue to be important, and timely.
After a design trend hits, there’s often an opposing trend that seems to surface soon after.
Call it reactionary, evolutionary, or simply how trends change and progress.
In the past few years, we’ve seen a pattern in graphic design trends that incorporates bright colors, loud patterns, and in your face graphics.
These designs are colorful, but they don’t work for every business.
Fortunately, the recent shift to bold, brightly colored designs has its own counterpart trend.
The incoming trend toward neutral colors, pastels, and patterns are like a salve for overtired consumer eyes.
The versatility of this softer trend has been embraced by a wide variety of businesses.
Cell phone cases, intimates, even our beloved coffee packaging – businesses in every marketplace have found a way to adopt a neutral palette into their packaging.
Packages using these trends speak to our softer side.
They create a welcoming feel that can be effective to draw in consumers seeking something more compassionate or considered.
This trend doesn’t mean that packages have to fade into the background or appear more passive.
Designers can use pastels and patterns to create visually compelling packages that attract attention.
If your brand or product benefits from a more subtle or mellow look and feel, incorporating this trend may uncover the packaging zen you’ve been seeking.
We expect packages in 2019 will have more of these soothing, gentle color palettes.
There are many instances of very serious packaging to be found in any given marketplace.
You know the ones – their stark, commanding graphics and imposing, stern typefaces impress customers with their obvious sophistication or visual dominance.
This style of packaging works well for some brands, but taking a step outside of a more serious approach can draw attention, too.
Adopting an unusual, playful graphics style in packaging can appeal to consumers looking for a lighthearted experience, an adventure, or something aggressively fun.
Knowing your market is important here – you probably wouldn’t want to purchase medical supplies wrapped in neon smiley face adorned packaging.
But if you know your consumers are in it for a good time or a youthful feel, this fun and fancy free trend might be worth playing around with.
What’s black and white and read all over?
This package design trend, that’s what.
Designers have used the yin and yang of colors to great effect, and this trend shows no signs of fading to… well, black.
There’s something powerful about packages that use white and black.
It removes the distraction of color and instead draws the eye to the shape and form of the design.
It also spotlights the copy, which can be advantageous when copy is a critical part of your brand.
There’s also a sophistication to designs using black and white.
If you’re not sold on the bright, intense colors in other trends, the simplicity of black and white may be perfect for you.
Who doesn’t get a little thrill at a sneak peek of what’s in the box?
Packages with cut-outs have been a staple for many years.
While cut-outs briefly fell out of favor in the early 2000s because of the expense involved, many businesses have decided the expense may be worth their while.
Customers want to know what’s inside of their products, and transparent packaging is a way to show and tell in an attractive way.
Providing a literal window into your product helps build trust and (pardon the pun) transparency.
It shows that you have nothing to hide, and can encourage a level of trust not possible with products hiding behind a closed…box.
After all, seeing is believing.
Companies that stand for something resonate with consumers. A Core LLC study confirmed this, revealing some impressive numbers. According to the study:
Forty-one percent of Americans say they have purchased a product in the past year because it was associated with a social or environmental cause. A full 83 percent of consumers want more of the products, services and retailers they use to benefit causes.
The study also found that companies who support causes are viewed more positively, and can benefit from switchers who jump from other brands. Specifically:
85% have a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause they care about; and,
80% are likely to switch brands, similar in price and quality, to one that supports a cause.
As we discussed earlier in our look at sustainable packaging, increasing numbers of consumers seek out companies who make it clear they care. Whether this is through sustainable packaging or clearly stated causes and charities doesn’t matter.
Wearing your heart on your proverbial sleeve (or in this case, packaging) is ultimately good for everyone, and good for business. This is a trend bound to grow as younger, more socially-aware consumers start flexing their immense buying power.
We just emailed the Brand Identity Guide to you.
Every year, designers look to the past to find inspiration.
Package designs that recall vintage elements, colors, or patterns but with a refreshingly modern twist will be found in abundance in 2019.
Packages with a vintage feel draw in consumers who search for that “artisanal” or handmade quality.
It may be ironic to use something evoking the past to charm those looking for authentic in-the-now experiences.
But what’s more authentic than getting in touch with our history?
Vintage designs also convey exclusivity. An old-fashioned look feels bespoke and unusual. That feeling lets a purchaser feel they’ve collected something rather than simply made a careless purchase.
If you’re looking to create an aura of sophisticated taste, finely crafted goods wrapped in vintage packaging is a great way to create that tastefully curated experience.
Authentic; exclusive; handmade: if any of these fit your brand, a vintage-era look may work for your package’s design.
The best packaging tells a compelling story to interested consumers.
A good brand story conveys a central message in every visual piece of branding your business has. Your brand story, in many ways, is the backbone of your entire brand identity.
Product packaging is your business’ most effective weapon to tell your brand’s story in a compelling way:
Product packaging has the power to inspire us to purchase a product and can make us feel even better about the purchase we’ve just made.
To build a strong brand, you must tell compelling brand stories. As we wrote previously:
Effective product packaging does more than merely set the stage for a product. The experience of unpacking a product is part of a customer’s experience with a brand, much like a company’s name and logo.
The need to tell compelling brand stories will only grow in importance in the year 2019.
If you want your packaging to tell your own story, consider these questions for your designs:
- What does your brand stand for?
- How do you want customers to feel when they use your product?
- How does your product resonate with your customers’ desires, fears, ambitions, values, etc?
Having your packaging designs incorporate the story your brand tells is an especially impactful way to truly connect with your market niche.
Gradients are a growing trend in just about every area of design.
Gradients are easy to use because they’re striking and versatile.
As we recently wrote,
Gradients provide subtle visual interest without being too busy.
That’s what makes them so great for lending an air of dynamism to a design without overwhelming the important stuff.
Gradients add depth and complexity to packaging without distracting from the product itself.
The colorful design provides just enough visual interest to draw the viewer’s eye – and then helps customers to remember the brand later on.
That kind of attention gives any product on a shelf a much sought after advantage.
It’s easy to see why gradients aren’t going anywhere in 2019.
We recently wrote about the massive success of Etsy and, by extension, the success of the independent seller marketplaces found there. As we wrote,
A major part of Etsy’s appeal for people is the authentic, local-shop feeling of the store and product – even if that store is actually located thousands of miles away.
The artisan, handcrafted, personal feel of the products found on Etsy all reflect a broader trend: the growing preference to purchase products that feel local, handmade, intimately crafted, and not mass produced.
For products that are created with each individual purchaser’s needs in mind, packaging should reflect that carefully crafted feeling.
Make sure your packaging illustrates your authentic, craftsman identity and emphasizes that your product was created by you.
This trend is focused on impressing upon customers that your product is natural, fresh, handmade, and a genuine artisan experience.
Wrapping It Up
Trends respond to changing tastes, but our underlying preference for attractive, beautiful design remains the same.
Good design is good business. Be sure your product packaging catches the eyes of your customers and prospects.
Want a closer look at other design trends for 2019?
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