Morgan Chaney packaging trends for 2021

Start the New Year with a New Look: New Custom Packaging Trends (Updated for 2022)

2020 has been a wild year, and many businesses have faced hardships, setbacks, and big budget restrictions. In 2021, branding and marketing your business effectively will be more important than ever. If you are looking to invest in rebranding in 2021 and want a fresh new look to attract more customers, here are some ideas for the top custom packaging trends.

Personalized Printed Labels

Companies are always trying to connect with their customers on a deeper level and make every customer feel special. Some have started offering subscription models for products and services that are commonly needed every month or two. With these products, custom labels can be created for every individual customer so their shipments are completely unique. This method of personalized packaging makes the customer feel important to the company they are ordering from.

Many of these companies, like Care/Of supplements, Function of Beauty, or eSalon custom hair color, create personalized products for customers based on their needs determined in a quiz or consultation. Then the product is packed with a custom printed label (with the customer’s name on it!) and shipped to the customer with an option for a subscription.

This type of retail is undoubtedly the way of the future. Everyone has different needs when it comes to consumable products and creating the option for custom formulas ensures that your company stands out from the rest. The customized labels are the perfect finishing touch to reinstate that the product was designed just for the recipient. This can help promote customer loyalty and satisfaction when customers really feel like they are getting a unique and personalized product.

Innovations in Eco-Friendly Packaging

It goes without saying that the environment is a huge concern for many consumers. After decades of using a ton of plastic packaging, non-recyclable materials, and forest-clearing paper products, consumers are looking for more eco-friendly alternatives when it comes to packaging. They are not only looking for recyclable and eco-friendly materials, but also ways to reduce the amount of materials used.

Reusable glass is one of the more popular packaging alternatives to plastic, as it is durable, easy to clean and reuse, and easy to recycle. Refillable products have become a popular option for certain types of products. Several companies have set out to create reusable and refillable packaging for their personal and household care products.

Source: Blueland Glass cleaning bottles with refillable tabs

If your brand prides itself on environmental concerns, then ensure that your packaging fits into that mold. There are always new innovative ways to create more sustainable packaging including new material options, new recycling options, and new design and construction methods that reduce waste and material usage. Biodegradable and compostable packaging will become more popular as consumers adopt eco-conscious lifestyle habits like composting.

New research shows that 74% of consumers would be willing to pay more for environmentally friendly packaging. So it’s okay if more eco-friendly packaging coincides with a necessary price increase for your items. Or, you could offer options so consumers can choose if they want to pay more for sustainable packaging options.

Interactive Packaging

QR codes are nothing new, in fact they’ve been in use for many years now. Their use in product packaging has become more popular recently as technology has improved their functionality. Retailers can create new and interactive experiences with packaging by using QR codes. If a product’s packaging has a QR code on it, a simple scan can take the customer to any website the retailer chooses.

QR codes can be used in many ways to complement and enhance your packaging and products. You can have them link to more product information, video demonstrations, tutorials, marketing materials, or just fun interactive content. The options are endless when you can take the experience onto the internet and transform your packaging into something that truly connects you with your customers.

You can link your QR codes to:

  • Tutorials or video demonstrations
  • Recipes
  • Crafts and interactive games for kids
  • Social media pages
  • Product information or spec sheet
  • Purchasing pages for reorders or subscriptions
  • Contest or sweepstakes entry
  • App download page

Save your customers the hassle of trying to Google search product information, instructions, or tutorials. With a QR code they can simply pull out their phone and use their camera to scan the link and go directly to your curated information. You can also link to your social media pages, website, recipe cards, blogs, or anywhere you want to take your customers virtually.

Covid-19 has also made QR codes more popular for restaurant menus, packaging, and touchless brochures to minimize the risk when providing important information to customers or clients.

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Another interactive option is to create an app for your brand that helps connect customers with your packaging. The wine company 19 Crimes uses their Living Wines app to bring their labels to life with real-time altered reality video. See examples on their website. LEGO also uses an interactive augmented reality app to bring some of their LEGO sets to life in their ‘Hidden Side’ line of products.

Safety in Food Packaging

Research is constantly being conducted on food packaging materials and their safety in use. This will likely be a serious ongoing issue in the coming years for food and beverage packaging providers. PFAS chemicals are one of the top controversial topics in recent years and bans against PFAS have already been enacted in a few cities and states across the U.S.

What are PFAS chemicals? They are an additive that increases the grease and moisture resistance of packaging and other products like waterproof fabrics and non-stick pans. The issue with PFAS chemicals is that they have been shown to leach into the environment and can cause a variety of serious health issues. These chemicals do not degrade over time, so they build up to dangerous levels in the environment. Then through exposure they can also build up to dangerous levels inside the human body.

PFAS chemicals in packaging and other items

PFAS chemicals are currently widely used in food packaging for their grease and moisture resistance properties. There are predictions that these chemicals may soon be banned in many more places, making it extremely important to find alternative PFAS-free packaging.

Many new food packaging materials are being researched and discovered that can take the place of PFAS chemical lined packaging. There are other ways to create grease and moisture resistance in packaging without the harmful effects on the environment or the human body. PFAS-free tray liner paper is available as well as PFAS-free food takeout boxes. While grease resistance is important to many food providers, there are alternatives that can work without the dangerous chemical component.

Flat Illustrations

Among the graphic design trends that will be influencing packaging in 2021, flat illustrations seem to be a popular choice for the coming year. These illustrations that are less realistic and more abstract or whimsical are a fun way to get creative with your packaging design. Illustrative design has come full circle from starting with simple, flat illustrations to advanced 3D animation that looks very realistic, and back to more simplistic styles.

Colorful and unique flat illustration will be a popular trend in the coming year, and is a great way to make your packaging eye-catching and appealing. This design style caters to our inherent love of color contrast, clean lines, and minimalism.

Soft Colors and Earth Tones

Shades of brown and beige along with earthy greens and blues are at the forefront of color trends in 2021. Steering away from brighter, less natural looking color schemes, there seems to be a resurgence of natural earthy tones, especially shades of nude beiges and browns. These soft colors promote feelings of coziness and serenity, which is something we all need going into 2021. Look away from bright colors if you’re rebranding for the new year, and instead choose a palette of soft, nature inspired colors for your packaging.

Visual Storytelling

Brands that can effectively tell a story about their company, their mission, and their products, are usually the winners in a competitive marketplace. Packaging is one of the unique opportunities a business has to tell the story of their brand.  This can be done through design, imaging, text, or a combination of those design features.

Something as simple as a graphic design or photograph printed onto your packaging can help tell a story about your brand. This makes your products feel more personal, and creates a deeper connection with your customers. That storytelling relationship can help you gain and keep loyal customers in a highly competitive marketplace. It can also become a central and common theme in all of your marketing materials and advertising efforts.

Packaging design gets more innovative every single year, and it’s becoming obvious that staying current with trends and technology are extremely important in the competitive retail world. While design trends come and go, it is clear that custom branded packaging is an important aspect of any business’s marketing efforts.