The calendar may say 2021 but we’re already looking over the next horizon toward 2022. The trends we see shaping packaging design next year and beyond reflect the ever-increasing urgency toward eco-friendly and sustainable packaging, innovative technologies that are moving from the fringes into the mainstream, aesthetic transformations inspired by the global pandemic and whimsical design approaches that are were once unique and beginning to become commonplace. Here are some of the packaging design trends we anticipate as we get ready for 2022.
Plastic-free More and more, consumers are showing a preference for purchasing products housed in sustainable packaging that is recyclable, compostable or biodegradable. We’re seeing structural designers and creative designers embracing the possibilities of paper and paperboard, and when plastic is a necessity a preference toward mono polymer recyclables.
Sustainable branding The swift and coordinated reaction to the pandemic from governments around the world showed that, despite our cultural, social and economic differences, we can unite under a common goal. Now consumers are expecting the same level of urgency in addressing today’s climate crisis, not just from our political leaders but from the brands they use and connect with during their daily lives. CPG firms can embrace sustainable branding by including on-pack messaging that communicates their dedication to protecting the environment using authentic language that says honestly and simply what they are doing and why. Over two-thirds of consumers polled across France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the US also support carbon labelling on products; it’s up to our industry to figure out ways to communicate the carbon footprint of products with clean and relatable messaging.
Algae to the rescue Algae has surprisingly emerged as a viable packaging alternative to oil-based plastics. Much like bamboo, another eco-warrior, algae grows at an incredibly fast rate – giant kelp can live for up to seven years, grow up to two feet per day and can be harvested on an industrial scale. Notpla, a startup based in London, England, has already developed an algae-derived carrier that holds liquids and is now exploring algae packaging to replace cardboard boxes.
Beyond the box Augmented reality holds the promise of taking the consumer’s relationship with their product packaging to another dimension. To enjoy an augmented reality experience, customers can point the camera on their mobile device at a package and watch as the real-world image is enhanced through computer-generated special effects. For kids, the content can be fun and/or educational while for adults, manufacturers can communicate safety information, nutritional information, even their sustainability story (see items 1-3 above). The technology can also take your Instagram posts to the next level.
Bold, upbeat colours As the world emerges from the grey cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re seeing those electric neon colours last embraced in the ’80s making a dramatic comeback. The use of bright colours is an effective way for a brand to assert its individuality in the marketplace and really stand out on shelf. Keep in mind that colour and our emotions are closely intertwined; colour is the first thing we register when we see something, and we process colour on an instinctual level before logic kicks in and analyzes personality and messaging, function and form.
Flat graphics A bold illustrative style has emerged in packaging design circles over the last couple of years and we see this “flat graphics” approach continue to pick up momentum as we head into 2022. The style involves using simple, colourful, two-dimensional illustrations comprised of simple blocks of colour in a fun and borderline cartoonish way, often portraying people, animals or fictional characters.
Textured packaging As we mentioned in a post a couple of months back, luxury packaging is becoming a necessity. While 2020 marked a shift to e-commerce, 2022 will be all about retail spaces being open again and elevating the in-store shopping experience. Textured packaging such as embossing and debossing, UV and soft-touch coating, holographic and metallic finishes not only pop off the shelf, but engage consumers’ tactile experience and relationship with your product.
Want to learn more about tomorrow’s emerging packaging trends? Contact us to find out how we can future-ready your product through unique and inspirational design.