The Driving Forces of Package Design

Today, packaging is more than just the container that holds product—it serves as much more. As the role of packaging has increased so has the amount of new package designs.

When analyzing the opportunities in packaging, companies tend to follow new packaging trends, but is that the best option? Instead companies should be examining what motivates these trends.

Driving packaging decisions should be three items: need behind the need, customer communication and holistic design. By utilizing these key components of packaging design, companies can move in the new innovative direction consumers demand.


Need Behind the Need

Consumer needs should be the main driver of packaging, but what sets your product packaging apart is knowing the need behind the need. For example, in 2002 Heinz launched their first upside-down bottle, which not only met packaging trends but also met the need behind the need of the consumer.

Today the consumers are looking for product solutions, with new packaging design that solve the need behind the need. Companies such as Bird’s Eye and Green Giant found the need behind the need with vegetable steamers.

By deeply understanding their consumer, these companies were able to set themselves apart in their category with innovative packaging designs that met ther consumer’s need behind the need.


Consumer Communication

In this 27/7-connected world, companies now have the opportunity to connect with the consumer through interactions like packaging. Packaging can serve as a medium to convey the most important selling points to the consumer.

Consumers are busy and need this conversation to happen in an instant. Quick, easy-to-read callouts can tell the consumer what they need to know in a brief second. Although, strategy must be used when determining what should be emphasized and what is not as important. Finding out what is most important to your customer is key.

From emphasizing “gluten-free,“ to focusing on “made with real fruit,” by showcasing these key elements can create product differentiation by visually showing the consumer what makes your product different.


Holistic Design

Not only can communication through callouts differentiate your product from your competitors but design can also be crucial.  Design can no longer just meet the functional requirements, but also needs to be holistic.

Holistic designs address the right and left brain, in addition to connecting emotionally with the consumer. Color combinations and flow can help develop a strong holistic design. Additionally, by creating and maintaining a brand balance between identity, claims and eye-catching elements packages can not only look appealing but also help with the communication with the consumer.

Packaging designs should not be driven by trends or fads, but by the consumer. By understanding the consumer, companies are able to find the need behind the need, open the channel for communication and develop a design that is holistic and appealing to the consumer—all of which creates packaging differentiation.


With contributions by Michelle Hill


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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