I must admit, I have at times (in fact even over the Thanksgiving holiday) purchased a product specifically because I liked the packaging. How many of us have done that before? Hopefully I’m not the only one raising his or her hand. But just peruse any alcohol store or college apartment and you will understand something about packaging. When the contents of a product have an intrinsic but subjective value packaging can certainly be the one extra factor that seals the deal.

Boxes and colors and bags wrap up the plastic and glass containers for trips home. High-end scotches come in lined wooden boxes screaming class and refinement.

Vodkas and schnapps, popular with faster drinkers, feature shaped bottles and colorful arrays. Alcohol packaging trends lead the market in finding new ways to dress up old products. Suffice it to say, I’m a sucker for great packaging.

That’s why, in my opinion, understanding the emerging trends of packaging can make the difference. Do you want your items rotting on or flying off the shelves?

Emerging Packaging Trends

Of course, creative packaging isn’t new. Boutique industries and gifts industries have been fighting these battles for a while. Other industries didn’t care. They were able to dominate or saturate a particular region and their packaging didn’t need to be anything more than functional.

Packaging does more than serve as a container to deliver the goods inside. Packaging serves a purpose in establishing your brand and engaging customers. It does so by mixing the right material with the right impact.


Packaging serves three major purposes to a customer.

  • House the objects inside.
  • Provide or indicate status.
  • Market through brand positioning.

Brand positioning focuses your product packaging from ancillary to necessary. You want your customer to be of the mindset that they aren’t buying an item but The Item.


Making brand packaging trend is about glomming onto the most potent of marketing: named brand recognition.


A newer trend pushing popular packaging designs is the unboxing potential. People love to unwrap and reveal the contents of packaging. Unboxing has emerged as a whole world of anticipation and fun. Making packaging that presents well in an unboxing means tons of views and shares. So now that you have an idea of the end goal of packaging, here’s the big question. How the heck do I achieve these goals?


Considering the material shapes the product messaging. Increasingly, consumers crave packaging that functions well and leaves less damage. Recyclable and upcycle ready packaging get noted and praised. Innovative use of materials and ‘less is more’ philosophies garner accolades.


Wooden boxes, cardboard wrappers, and paper constraints make great packaging. Wood is renewable (though it takes energy from other sources). Paper packaging also recycles efficiently.

Paper materials work best when they accent the products inside. Since paper isn’t often transparent, cutouts and previews are recommended. These designs provide a little taste of the contents inside.

Laser cutting logos into the packaging provides an old-world flair. Laser cutting is also a great way to create interactive packaging that becomes puzzles or games.

Minimalist designs and DIY looks pop better on paper products than plastic.


Plastic wins in terms of durability and longevity but loses in overall appeal. Many consumers also have it out for plastic thanks to the floating garbage islands.

That said, dedicated industries make strides in plastics recycling and upcycling programs.

Plastics provide useful ways of making form-fitting contents with injection molding processes. This makes it easy to keep products from sustaining damage and, in the case of multiple components, can be designed as a storage or carry case.

Think of any given tool case. The packaging that sells the product also contains and transports the product.

Plastic products make large text easy to read and unusual shapes easy to form. Don’t settle for a box when an oval, dinosaur or recreated sarcophagus can house the goods.


Part of what you will select in a material is for geared toward the impact you desire. With so much jockeying for position in store shelves, an eye-catching package can seal the deal.

You also want to find a trend that matches the desires and expectations of the target consumer. You don’t want to sell baby shampoo in a hand-tooled wooden box or a set of knives in a pop out Day-Glo plastic case.


You already know that color theory and the psychology of color are important. Consider also, that tone has an effect in packaging. Bright and bold color appeal to the youth while down-played pastels attract older audiences.

Simple contrasts command respect and offer a quiet superiority. Garish jumbles of colors invoke youth and enthusiasm in their chaos.

Loose design elements lend themselves to color. Precision lines and angular shapes do better in monochrome.

Pick a color scheme that matches your audience but avoid looking like a competitor. Stand out by being precise.


Mark Twain famously intoned, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” So too, minimalism takes a lot of time and effort to look simple and uncomplicated. This constantly rediscovered ‘trend’ in packaging makes sense. People want the packaging to do its job and expect to receive what is advertised. A simple external package sells a promise to uncomplicate stressful lives.

The internal components, though, keep any number of pieces and parts free of damage and easy to remove.

Minimalism in the unboxing era also provides a nice slight of hand for designers. Audiences (future consumers) love to see how many things can emerge from an otherwise unassuming box.


The post-modern 21st-century world also loves a good harkening. We love to be reminded of simpler times. Products with a heritage or traditional sensibility make us feel part of a wider world.

Obsequious lettering and simple color contrasts advertise well and boast readability.

Combine a vintage design with some typography know-how to build your brand into a collectible. How often have you seen a t-shirt with a logo for a product that has nothing to do with shirts? That is the power of typography at work.

Also, if you hate the overuse of certain typefaces, get outside of the papyrus and comic-sans horrorscape with a fresh take on lettering.

Get Creative

With these tips and packaging trends, you have what you need to edge out potential shelf-mates. Design and marketing go hand-in-hand and it takes a lot of information to stay ahead of the competition.

Contact us for details on how you can apply design to all of your business functions.