3 sizzling design trends in food and beverage packaging

Rick Lingle in Packaging Design on June 06, 2017

Your product’s story will have to be told simply and immediately through the packaging design to connect with today’s mobile-savvy consumer.


One of Packaging Digest’s “evergreen” features that continues to collect solid interest again in May as it has done monthly since it was posted last April was our interview with Justin Johnson, principal of More Branding, a design agency. That article centered on the firm’s design work for Delici, a high-end dessert in premium packaging sold exclusively at Costco.

Having learned recently that Johnson’s company spun-off a standalone design website devoted to design for food and beverage packaging, Shelf, we felt it was timely to tap his design expertise once again, but this time through a wide-angle view of emerging design drivers in this market.


What trends are you seeing in design specific to food and beverages?

Johnson: Trends are often thought of as changing design aesthetics, however, we feel trends are always a reflection of the consumer and culture. If we look at our culture, we have people that are always on the move, life’s busy and fast and our attention spans are compressing. In order to connect with today’s consumer you have to be able to tell your story simply and immediately.

In the old days, we used to talk about having an elevator pitch to tell someone why they should buy your product. An elevator pitch was considered short 15 years ago. Today, it’s more like the time from when you push the elevator button until the doors close. You have about 3-5 seconds max to convince a consumer to buy your product in the supermarket. Simple always wins.

The second macro trend also relates to the consumer’s busy lifestyle: Mobility. Mobility isn’t just about technology. Consumers desire products that can travel with them. Packaging that is purchased in smaller containers. Flexible packaging that can be thrown in a bag or purse and easily consumed without kitchen utensils. Think about the lifestyle of 25-55 year olds. They are commuting, traveling, attending their kids’ activities, or hitting their Soul Cycle class. Our culture is no longer built around the mom at home with continuous access to the pantry and fridge. Brands need to live beyond the pantry.

One well publicized example of this mobility is Chobani’s new drinkable smooth yogurt beverage. You can grab it at a convenience store and have your yogurt on the go without a spoon.

The third macro trend we are seeing at Shelf is designing not only for the supermarket shopper, but asking how does the brand experience translate to the consumer that purchases online? Packaging’s role in this ecommerce scenario is still to connect, but could provide a deeper experience.

An analogy might be something like this: Shopping in a supermarket is like speed dating, it’s quick and shallow with lots of choices, but once you find someone to ask out for dinner you can have deeper more meaningful conversations and really strengthen that bond/relationship. Getting the product at home is more like going straight to the one-on-one relationship.

To boil down these macro trends: Simplicity. Mobility. Online Consumer.


Next: What’s the biggest challenge in the food & beverage market?



For ideas for packaging design and other options for food, beverages and other products, consider attending EastPack, which is part of a 6-in-1 event, New York City Advanced Design & Manufacturing, June 13-15. For more information, visit http://eastpack.packagingdigest.com.



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