Changing package design for changing consumers

Take a quick look around you. I bet you can see at least five package designs without even needing to move. Of the packaging you see how many of them are food or drink related? Food and packaging are inextricably linked and have been since the beginning of the mass-produced food industry. They are everywhere and nowhere, they blend in to our everyday lives and become part of our habitats, routines, and identities.

Despite packaging being a large sector of the graphic design world, there aren’t many examples of it being an influential vehicle for new design aesthetics. While magazine design and print ads are used frequently to demonstrate visual representations of culture shifts in modern human history, package design has been more of a utilitarian follower rather than a ground-breaking pioneer of visual communication. . .until now.
In this era of information availability, and constant bombardment by advertising it is becoming increasingly difficult for advertisers and food corporations to simply convince consumers what they want and what they need.

There is an ever-growing demand by the consumer to ask the question “but what am I actually eating?”

This question has led to mass interest in artisanal, small batch, and local products and has driven many super markets to stock such products. For this reason, honesty is currently the most influential consumer trend effecting packaging design. The customer is craving for new wholesome products and the flashy, cartoony, corporate packaging is now synonymous with unhealthy additives, countless preservatives, and ingredients one could only attempt to pronounce.

Clear windows to show off the product, professionally unprofessional branding, realistic photography, and proudly stating ingredients, are just a few key features of how smaller artisanal and natural food brands have distinguished their products on the shelves. As a result, this style of packaging, its call for honesty and the consumer’s desire for honest has become the loudest voice in the packaging arena. This visual representation of healthy, wholesome ingredients is a backlash at the blind food purchasing of a bygone age.
Some examples of this include: The Cornish Seaweed Company, Tundra Mini bars: coconut, and Trussings Craft Fizz.

Uniquely it seems that this trend in package design that began with smaller food and drinks companies has permeated into not only the greater food design world, but also of branding and identity design as a whole.

With branding that resembles the simple and often rustic designs based on the trend of honesty, companies are re-engaging with customers and making them feel like they do care about the kind of product that they are producing for consumers no matter what that product may be. In the example of Hellmann’s and Johnsonville, one can see the attempt to create craft, homemade feel that has been so successful for smaller brands. Though we know very well that grandma Hellmann isn’t churning out vats of perfect mayonnaise, getting rid of gimmicky slogans and stating clearly what the product has and what it DOESN’T have in it is a testament to the powerful impact that the relatively small companies are making with their focus on conveying their message of honesty through package design.

 

While this blog has focused on food package design, all companies and organisations have packaging in the form of a visual brand identity. As we have seen, brand identities must be fluid and must react to the changing values of its clients and consumers. Here are a few questions you may want to ask about your own company’s visual identity.

1.) Does my brand reflect the values of our clients/customers and does it reflect our own company ethos?
2.) Does my brand lend itself to connecting with new potential clients and customers?
3.) Is my brand flexible enough to allow for company growth and to remain relevant in changing times.

If you would like to discuss or re-think your organisations visual identity or package design with Pelican’s graphic design agency contact Cheryl Conant at Cheryl.conant@pelicomms.co.uk.

Pelican Communications is a specialist in the environmentfood and drinkoutdoor and leisure and packaging sectors and offers a range of services such as media relationsbrand managementevent managementdesign and people developmentContact us for marketing and communications expertise.