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Top 10 packaging trends for 2018

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Author: Neil Percy

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The holy grail for packaging designers is to create something that stands out; something that jumps off the shelves and into shoppers’ baskets without so much as a glance at competitor products.

Often, however, what consumers respond to is dictated by trends, not just in packaging but in product design, branding, interior design and art.

So, with that in mind, we’re taking a look at our top 10 packaging trends that we think will be popular in 2018. Our thoughts are below, but if you’ve got any to add, don’t hesitate to let us know.

1. Simplicity

In 2018, there will be a move away from cluttered design towards clear cut lines. Big words and meaningful shapes will add impact, as will the choice of material used. With more versatile printing techniques now available, specifically in the digital arena, the choice of materials for packaging has never been wider.

Although simplicity is key, graphic design in 2018 is likely to be stronger, bolder and cleverer, with clear messaging that emphasises the purpose and benefit of the product. Packaging and branding design will play to an increasingly sophisticated consumer, establishing the shared value of discerning taste.

2. Colour

2017 was a year of riotous colour, thought by many to be a positive response to the difficulties of the previous year. Although 2018 is likely to be no less colourful, it will be used in a more considered way. Consistency is likely to feature highly too, as brands ensure core packaging colours feature prominently on posters and other supporting graphics.

3. Design by artists or inspired by art

Graphic design with input from artists or inspired by works of art is hardly a new thing, but it has become popular again, particularly in youth markets. It is easy to see why. Artists bring attitude, independence and uniqueness to packaging and label design that conventional designers can lack. Expect this to transfer to other product types throughout 2018 and beyond.

4. Bold typography

Again feeding into simplicity of design and messaging, bold and creative typography is a feature of many consumer products, from food and beverage to beauty and hygiene products. However, during 2018, expect this to broaden out to a range of other sectors including paint and coatings, nutraceutical products, garden products, and just about everything else. Bold, creative typography will be a key feature of 2018.

5. E-packaging

Packaging isn’t just about graphic design, functionality plays a key role as well. Although not new, the forward march of e-packaging will continue unbated in 2018. Using packaging to connect consumers with online shopping is a powerful way to make your products accessible and convenient, ultimately delivering an improved shopping experience.

6. Smart packaging and smarter buying

Like e-packaging, smart packaging has already begun to make an impact on our everyday lives. By monitoring the internal environment of a package, it can assess the stability of drugs or the palatability of food. Smart packaging can also help people stick to a treatment schedule if recovering from illness or injury, by alerting them when it is time to take medicines. We recently wrote a blog about how one of our existing customers is using packaging in exactly this way:- https://www.springfieldsolutions.co.uk/blog/packaging-up-smart-solutions-that-might-just-save-the-world

Expect an expansion of uses for smart packaging during 2018, as consumers at first get used to the technology and then demand it.

7. Augmented reality (AR)

Related to e-packaging and smart packaging, but not quite the same thing, AR will continue to develop at breakneck speed along with mobile technology.

The biggest impact for AR will continue to be Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), as the technology provides brands with the opportunity to enrich the shopping experience, making it more meaningful and interactive for consumers.

Already extensively used in the food and beverage market, 2018 is likely to be the year other sectors catch up and AR becomes a staple across a range of consumer markets. So, if you’re not already looking into the benefits it could bring your brand, now is the time to look into it.

Our sister company, Eon Visual Media, works in the AR and associated technology space and their experts have written extensively on the subject of AR and its use in retail, particularly in relation to big brands L’Oreal and Ikea.

8. Lighter, more flexible packaging

Light and flexible packaging that still offers reliable protection for the product will gain further traction in 2018. This is driven by ecommerce and the continual consumer shift to online shopping. Companies are moving towards lighter and more flexible packaging to aid logistics, particularly FMCG companies distributing palletised goods. By getting the right balance of weight and protection, globalised companies can significantly cut logistics costs, and that is driving packaging innovation on a worldwide scale.

But this doesn’t just stop with the protective packaging for the item. Even the outer packaging is changing to meet the demands of ecommerce. Outer packaging designed to make returns easier for customers will gather pace in 2018 as companies go head-to-head in the fight for customer convenience and loyalty.

9. Labelling requirements

As regulations call for clearer, more comprehensive labelling, especially on food and beverage, pharmaceutical and hazardous products, labelling and packaging designers will come up with more ingenious ways of displaying that information without ruining the brand graphics. This will be a key theme during 2018 for companies operating in those industries as businesses are under mounting pressure for transparency.

10. Sustainability

Hardly a new buzzword, it’s true, but the sustainability of packaging will remain a hot topic in 2018 and beyond. Discovering new ways to reduce the environmental impact and ecological footprint of packaging is at the forefront of packaging research.

One topic which is likely to feature strongly in 2018 and beyond is the use of plastics in packaging and how this can be reduced. Earlier this year, frozen food specialist Iceland announced the bold decision to remove all plastic from its own-brand packaging by 2023. We’re sure others will follow suit this year. The total removal of plastics from packaging is many years away, but Iceland’s move is the first step from a major retailer to take a stand against the material.

Other forward-thinking companies are coming up with innovative ways to make their packaging more sustainable, such as using more recycled materials and reusing packaging components. They are also encouraging suppliers, contract packagers and distribution companies to do the same.

Such initiatives look at material choice, packaging design, processing and life-cycle to produce less damaging packaging.

This will of course continue unabated through 2018, so expect to see some breakthroughs that will lead to better, more environmentally friendly packaging.

Leave us a comment!

These are our top tips for 2018. What do you think, have we missed any? If so, leave us a comment to let us know what else will happen in the year ahead.

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