CPG Marketing Trends: Bigger Isn’t Always Better – Why the Less is More Philosophy is Catching On

It’s the most basic principle of marketing: get the consumer’s attention. But in a marketplace with brands screaming for someone to take notice, some CPG products are starting to rethink their approach.

Instead of focusing on the hard sell product points, brands are starting to focus on building an emotional connection by keeping their brands clean, simple, and modern. Brands are focusing less on answering, “What can my product do for you?” and more on, “What does this product mean to you?”

This emotional connection approach has led to wide success for market-leader brands such as Apple, Starbucks, Nike, Pepsi, Shell, etc. According to research from the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), consumers seek out products with minimal packaging. Steve French, managing partner at NMI, says that products with less packaging are attracting consumers more than complicated and intricate designs.

Apple logos over time

NMI research pinpoints another reason that the minimalistic trend is so popular: sustainability. While this seems to be a catchphrase that brands continually embrace, it’s effective. Consumers want to be environmentally friendly, and minimal packaging is just another way to achieve this.

“Consumers want to do their part to help the planet,” French states. In the consumer psyche, less packaging often means a better environment.

A survey conducted by Information Resources, Inc. reports that of the 22,000 consumers surveyed, 50% of US consumers consider at least one sustainability factor in selecting CPG items. The chart below details which sustainability factors were most important to consumers, with “sustainable packaging” coming in the second most important spot.

IRI Sustainability Survey

A recent experiment by Antrepo examined what products would look like without clutter. The products stripped of packaging were popular CPG brands such as Nutella, Nesquick, Pringles, Red Bull, and others. Do the brands look better with the minimalistic approach or without? And does the minimalism suggest sustainability to you?


Brad is an expert in private label and challenger brand food marketing for Barkley, an integrated marketing and advertising agency. He specializes in working with manufacturing-driven food companies that have aspirations to develop a consumer insight-led strategies to help drive innovation and growth.

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