Five Packaging and Design Trends for 2020

August 14, 2020

As 2020 looks set to hold the title for the year of uncertainty and economic distress, now more than ever, creatives are being challenged to push design boundaries that address not only aesthetics, but more importantly, maximize form and function. At the same time, continuing concern for the environment is becoming more and more prevalent, and so the need for smart packaging is becoming less of a trend and more the requirement.

To combat the heightened levels of stress, we see design trends emerging that not only support the environment but reflect the need for simplicity and a sense of calm. Buying habits of consumers are also shifting. There is less opportunity to be influenced by the physical shopping experience. With the increase of online purchasing, we are challenged with the need to communicate product personality through packaging alone.

For designers to succeed, they need to embrace today’s changing trends more than ever. Here are the top five up-and-coming packaging trends.

1. Earth-friendly Packaging

With climate change continuing to dominate the media in 2020, we will see an increased demand for packaging constructed of recycled and/or recyclable materials from all forms of merchandising. Sustainability is top of mind, especially with the next generation of consumers. They will be more likely to purchase a product that reflects and addresses their concerns for the environment, not only in the product itself but in the packaging in which it’s contained.

As consumers become more and more educated on how waste materials harm our planet, the popularity and necessity of earth-friendly packaging supplies are expected to produce greater demand. Substrates such as glass, metal and paper will take the role that plastics played for years. The development of bio-polymer plastics will offer an alternative to the plastics of the past.

Not only package designers, but graphic designers will need to adapt to these new materials and design within the parameters each presents.

2. Technology-enhanced Packaging

With Generation Z coming to the forefront of consumerism, there is an increasing need to enhance the purchasing experience through technology. Experiences via augmented reality, QR codes or radio-frequency identification (RFID) transform everyday packaging into what is now referred to as smart packaging. Before ripping into a box, consumers will soon expect to interact with it first. Engaging while educating the consumer through gamification will be a widely used method of enhancing this experience as well.

As the purchasing demographic shifts, we will see digital enhancements become an intricate component to communicating to a generation that not only embraces technology, but is influenced by it.

3. Telling the Story

Selling a product is all about connecting with the audience. With the growing trend of online shopping, marketers today do not have the added benefit of consumers experiencing their products in real life, in real time. Packaging then becomes one of the main vessels for companies to provide consumers with additional information that forges an emotional connection to a particular brand.

4. Less will be More

In years past, we would buy a product that was overly packaged. Whatever the product might be, it would be contained in a plastic clamshell, that was placed in a box, that was placed in another box that was wrapped in plastic. The days of over-engineered merchandising have now been replaced with the minimization of packaging. Consumers today expect companies to embrace environmental sustainability issues by packaging their products with less materials. Manufacturers will also be tasked to package and protect their products without utilizing excessive materials.

You will see this minimalist packaging approach further communicated through graphic trends. Straight forward, easy to digest, high contrast designs that clearly and simply state the contents of the package are paramount to many consumers in 2020.

5. In-home Communication

The continuing rise of subscription boxes will also play into the storytelling packaging trend in 2020. Branded packaging is especially important for subscription boxes, where the box itself becomes the only representation of the brand, since the contents feature other brands and products.

Because of this, the delivery experience is the most important interaction with the customer, and so we’ll continue to see an emphasis on creating an amazing unboxing experience to strengthen subscribers’ bond with their chosen brand. Elements like custom tissue paper, textured boxes and personalized graphics will continue to innovate as this trend looks set to stay.

Konica Minolta’s industry leading print production line includes a number of presses designed for the packaging market. Join us virtually for Embellishment Day to experience first hand the impact you can make by adding these unique features to product marketing.  Register here.

Ted Brolsma
Senior Manager, Creative Services

As Senior Manager of Creative Services at Konica Minolta, Ted is responsible for the creative direction and execution of all marketing initiatives in the U.S. Ted also offers up his talents as a member of Konica Minolta’s global communications team, developing and enforcing brand standards worldwide. A graduate of New York City’s School of Visual Arts, he has a diverse portfolio of creative experience working in various industries such as home/commercial interiors, healthcare, fashion and IT. Travel (when possible) is Ted’s passion, gathering creative inspiration from culture, museums, architecture and theater.