Select Page

Packaging is more than boxes or the covering that protects or encloses a product during shipping and handling. Packaging is much like the cover of a novel, giving a glimpse into the inner world. Thus, it can be used to create anticipation and intrigue and be as much a part of the experience as the product itself.

In 2020, we are going to see a focus on that experience more and more. Although consumer habits have shifted towards using the internet to search for and buy goods, people want authenticity. That is why more businesses are getting innovative and using technology to advance their packaging designs.

Without further ado, let’s introduce the packing industry trends of 2020 that you don’t want to miss:

Telling A Story With Design

Consumers put a lot of stock in your brand when they make a purchase, and they often anticipate an experience that begins the moment they receive the package. This becomes increasingly significant the farther retail gets into the virtual world. No amount of digitization can trump the moment you actually get the product in your hands and can appraise it in real time.

So use your packaging to tell a story and send the customer on a journey that leaves them wanting more. Success these days is so much more than making a satisfying product. You need to be different. Authentic. You need to make your brand identity as strong as possible, and one of the best ways to do that is to have a tale to tell.

But how do you tell a story with packaging design? Here are some tips:

Think about how you want to resonate with your audience. Every brand has a story about how it formed or stories about how the brand has positively affected someone’s life. Display these moments to show what makes your brand unique. For example, if you have family-owned business, you might reprint the old family recipe in your grandfather’s handwriting on the tissue paper. You might include photos of the original employees or faces of satisfied customers.

Words are just as good. You can print greetings or motivational quotes on the packaging that sum up your brand’s mission, too. It’s an awesome way to engage with customers while offering up an unboxing experience like no other.

Neutral Colors & Subdued Palettes

Softer shades have been highlighted for 2020. Neutral colors are more than black and white. Instead, think of more subdued palettes as a hint to minimalism, as well as more vintage styled packaging. While the classic monochrome package can leave your efforts to appeal to the customer feeling slightly flat and one note, an ombre of rose gold, creamy whites, and pinks or a blend of pastels mixed with neutral colors like beige and taupe add a touch of sophistication.

Need some color matching inspiration? Consult the Pantone color guide. Not only does it show the most popular colors of the year, but it makes it easy to figure out which shades complement one another the best.

You should also take advantage of contrasting colors for a statement. For example, if the base of the packing is a neutral color, you can add bright pink or blue to the label to draw attention to your logo or brand name.

Surface Pattern Design

Although there are other style trends in packaging, surface pattern design is still going strong. Surface design is a fairly new term, but it has been around for a long time. Anything made by a designer that is intended to be applied to a surface, such as colorful patterns, calligraphy, and illustrations, to enhance the functionality and/or the visual appeal is considered a surface design.

In terms of packaging, you may have started to see a lot more ornate designs on boxes and tissue paper and other components of packaging. These designs often tell a story or have some kind of interactive element, even if that is just making packaging look Insta-worthy.

One thing surface design is not, however, is randomly slapping logos or your brand name all over the place.

Instead, you are using a luxurious look that can become artwork, in a sense. Such rich and extravagant details are meant to be a feast for the eyes and enjoyed. If you want to impress your customers, consider surface pattern design packaging.

Vintage Style Packaging

The retro experience is something that people have always enjoyed. Now more than ever, the Millennial and Gen Z groups are returning to nostalgic-driven moments, including movies, games, and music. Although most of these retro or vintage experiences are being re-imagined with today’s incredible technology, that doesn’t mean packaging cannot return to the bygone days for inspiration.

Focus on aesthetics! Vintage packaging is all about developing designs that tell a story and rekindle memories by using color schemes, fonts, and imagery. Both young and old customers should be able to look at the packaging and feel a stirring in their memories.

Just remember that, because vintage packaging is considered a niche, you want to tread carefully. Try to blend the designs with other trends on this list, such as sustainable packaging. If you can find a way to balance aesthetics, functionality, and environmentally-friendly design, you will have a winner that excites any and all who receive your product.

E-Commerce Packaging

The advent of online shopping has brought forth numerous changes to buying habits and society as a whole. E-commerce is going nowhere. But what is e-commerce packaging? And how is it a trend?

In the past, e-commerce packaging seemed to follow a pattern of excessive packaging overstuffed with void fill. Recently, Amazon and other online retailers have started cracking down on this wasteful use of packaging for two reasons. First, people want more sustainable packaging. Second, appropriately sized packaging is easier to distribute and doesn’t get damaged as easily.

The other aspect of e-commerce packaging is the professional representation of the products during unboxing. More and more people are sharing their unboxing experience, so the quality of the packaging is center stage. Instead of using plastics, why not try customized tissue paper? It adds a touch of luxury and can even be recycled.

Corrugated Packaging

Continuing from the e-commerce packing trend is corrugated packaging. Though this style of packaging can standalone, e-commerce has made it all the more popular. Why? The rigidness and resilience of corrugated packaging makes it more sustainable. Plus, items packed in corrugated packaging require far less plastic.

Replacing less environmentally-friendly packaging, such as single-use plastics, with something made out of recycled materials will not only reduce waste but appeal to those following the same lifestyle.

One way to use corrugated packaging is to make use of reusable printed sleeves that slide over reusable corrugated boxes. This allows for consumers to recycle their boxes or find another use for them.

Minimalist Packaging

Minimalism is more than focus on how many materials are used during the packaging process. It also goes beyond making a smaller impact on the environment. Simply speaking, minimalist packaging is straightforward and visually-appealing. The contents of the package are more important than the actual packaging.

There are a couple of reasons behind the rise of minimalist design. First, consumers want to create less waste. Secondly, flexible packaging has become more readily available over the years. Flexible packaging is any kind of package or a part of a package that can be reshaped when filled or when used. Anything that can be resealed, for example, is flexible packaging.

Minimalism is no doubt the line between reusable and vintage or luxury design. However, unlike the others, you can be innovative with minimalist packaging. Just because something is simply designed doesn’t mean it has to be boring, after all.

Digital Printing

What is digital printing? It is utilizing technology of computers to create designs that are then represented on physical products. Although digital printing has been around for many years now, it is safe to say that it is becoming more and more integral in the entire packaging process, especially where graphic design is included.

Digital printing gives flexibility with personalizing packaging and customizing certain parameters, like typesetting in the past. Digital printing technologies also allow for every single color to be printed per pass instead of one color at a time, which was common in more out-dated processes. This has fostered a rapid boom in “print-on-demand,” and the use of such technology is only going to continue to grow.

Sustainable & Recyclable Designs

More than ever before, people are becoming aware of their impact on the environment. That is why 2020 is the year of sustainability and environmentally-friendly business decisions, like recyclable packaging. Millennial and Gen Z consumers are more focused on recycling and environmental issues than older generations, meaning companies need to get on board with the movement as well.

What does this mean for you? It means selecting zero-waste packaging, flexible packaging, and plant-based alternatives, like bio-polymer packing plastics. People are also looking for packaging that can be upcycled. Take, for instance, the reusable ice cream containers introduced by Häagen-Dazs.

In 2020, consider the creative ways you can include minimalist design with sustainable materials, such as metal, paper, cardboard, and recycled plastics to make beautiful packaging. Also, think about downsizing product packaging to make less waste or reduce the use of plastics altogether. Another option is making packaging that are compostable or infused with seeds.

Personalized Packaging

There is one thing that digital printing makes a whole lot easier: personalization. Brands have started exploring this route to attract more customers to their products. So far, it has been a tremendous success. In fact, about 70% of marketers believe that personalizing items and campaigns has a strong to extremely strong impact on buyers’ choices.

Personalization is not a one-sized scenario either. Your packaging is going to look different from your competitor’s design. But that’s what is at the heart of this packaging trend. Now, you can standout more than before.

Here are some examples:

Snack companies printing real faces on their packaging, like Frito-Lay
• Bud Light printing football team logos on beer cans
• Coca-Cola putting names and titles and phrases on their soft drink bottles
• Heinz “Get Well Soon” message cans

Overall, if you open up options for customers to have a more personalized experience, they are going to appreciate it, no matter how small. This includes anything from labels with names to customized shipping tape that thanks the individual for their patronage.

Get creative!

Wrapping Up

Every industry experiences trends, and the packaging industry is no stranger to changes in consumer behaviors and technological advancements. This means that 2020 promises to introduce more packaging trends that will continue to reshape shipping, handling, distribution, and packaging design. If you are looking to refresh your current packaging design, consider the trends of sustainability, minimalism, neutral tones, and personalization to make your goods standout.

Want more information about packaging designs? Having questions about packaging that were not answered here? Then get in contact with us by filling out the contact form.