Packaging design in both visual and physical sense is inextricably linked to consumer preferences. The difficulty is that with trends there can be a wrong time and a right time to use these to a company’s best advantage. If you are too early you could miss the attention of your target consumer and if you are too late the early bird will have defiantly taken the worm.
The application of trends within packaging design need a great deal of consideration. Many questions need to be asked and considered and decisions made to ensure the designs fit with the brand strategy in the long term. Big brands can be very hesitant to market due to the potential pitfalls of following trends early and often the difficulties put in place by the logistics of the organisation. Unusually Coke have taken a big step with 5 limited edition cans for this summer which, following a packaging fiasco for Tropicana, is a brave move. A move that we like though, with its clean and crisp design that does not stray too far from the can design we are familiar with. This usual hesitancy of big brands normally paves the way for smaller innovative brands taking the reign and heading towards the fire of early adopters in the hope they have got it right. The bigger brands will follow later when the trend is ’confirmed’ and the business case is strong to follow.
It’s no easy task to discover an emerging trend and there have been many cases when brands have got it wrong which can be a costly mistake (as with Tropicana). The best safe guard would be to arm your organisation with real time consumer understanding collected specifically to feed into a brands consumer understanding. Within packaging you must understand the views, opinions and motivations of consumers when they are making their purchase decisions. It is important to understand not only what they think but also what importance they put on each consideration they make. The critical factor here is also what effect price has on these motivations. Working within packaging boundaries that motivate your key target demographic will keep a brand on a steady path. In an ever growing packaging savvy market place the understanding of trends is imperative.
Utilising Trends Too often design agencies are blinkered or rely on out of date information when looking to understand packaging. Trends in the fashion industry tend to filter through relatively quickly and fashion moguls are hard wired into the key areas where fashions trends are born. For example leading fashion stores often trawl fashionable London markets like Portobello looking for ideas from small designer stalls selling their wears. Music, internet, theatre and underground sport are also breeding grounds of early trends which often make their way into the mainstream market place. As they filter in and influence the mainstream they take many twists and turns and can become diluted, which is a safer bet for the big brands.
Timing Knowledge is key but with action in the right place at the right time the output will not be as fruitful. Brands need to understand when, how and why to use a visual trend. We are looking to motivate, excite, inform and improve the purchase experience at the key point of the shopper journey. To understand consumers you cannot look at them from afar you must work with, listen to, and understand them. To discover an emerging seed of a trend we must understand how cultural, political and social trends are shaping the society we live in.
Politics are interesting as politicians seek out trends to be an early adopter and a leader of ideas. When they get this wrong they ensure amends are made as quickly as possible whipping up plenty of spin on the way. The issue they have is the opposition will always be quick to remind them (with supporting recorded evidence) of the mistakes they made. Luckily packaging design is often far more considered…
In the time of a recession understanding trends is important. Yes it was foreseeable that the likes of Aldi and Asda would do well in an economic downturn but consideration must be taken at the tail end when consumers who have traded down return to the more premium brands. Their experiences in this downturn will directly affect their purchase decisions in the future. Will many have realised that a well known baked bean brand tastes very similar to its Value rival? The only real difference being the packaging? This is the time to protect and enforce the brand message but will this be effective enough to motivate?
The end is nigh! The environment, and the protection of it, is not new news but it seems that way in the past few years. The trend to be environmentally protective is on its way to the top of the bell curve and gaining momentum. Everyone is jumping on the me-too band wagon with very few left behind. The early adopters such as Toyota with its Prius, which is the car of ‘choice’ for celebrities all over the world (parked next to their petrol guzzling Hummer no doubt), are keen to ensure consumers know they sold the original hybrid car in their latest campaign. Looking back this trend seemed obvious so why such late adoption by many key brands? Did they not foresee the power and impact of such a behavioural change in the market place? Or was it a case of waiting for others to try the water first? Now everyone is swimming.
So what’s the next big trend for your brand and its packaging? What will your consumers be doing next? What do they think? find out: email@example.com