According to the popular press, people find a lot of consumer packaging cumbersome, difficult and even dangerous to open. Why don’t we see more examples of good packaging clamouring for attention on our shelves?
I believe that innovative structural design is undervalued and that brand owners do not have the budgets to bring to market solutions designed to fit consumer lifestyles and physical demands.
Take, for example, the burgeoning new seniors population. By 2020 more than 50 per cent of adults will be over 50. This prospect should have brand owners clamouring about design studios in an eager attempt to commission designs that are easier to open and grip.
While this group of people will be younger in attitude, they will still suffer from the same physical constraints that afflict people of that age. This represents a great opportunity for brand owners to differentiate themselves through empathetic design.
If consumers are disillusioned with packaging we need to ask why. I think we would discover that the reasons are not hard to find.
Our contribution as designers and planners is to understand what a piece of packaging needs to deliver, on every functional and emotional level, from the most basic requirement through to higher added value.
Through effective packaging design we can really raise the bar. It takes discipline and technique to gain an understanding of the case study in all its complexity before delving into the design process. It is also no small challenge to understand where consumers will be tomorrow, to know how and where we should be pitching the brands of the future.
Packaging should be designed to be hassle-free, but it needs to go beyond that: hassle-free is a threshold attribute, not a differentiator. An excellent piece of packaging should make consumers’ lives easier through heightened functionality. Beyond that, of course, pack design needs to strike a chord with its target audience and it should have a good measure of emotional appeal to ensure that it is memorable. Then, and only then does it becomes an integral part of the consumer’s lifestyle.
If all designers and, more to the point, brand owners held true to the above we would eliminate packaging rage in an instant.
Client director, Packaging