Design in 2021 – what will packaging design look like?

As part of our series of design in 2021, Landor & Fitch executive creative director Shaun Loftman looks at what will happen in packaging design in the next 12 months.

What do you think 2021 will hold for packaging design?

This year people will be looking for optimism and positivity, and we’ll see that play out in packaging. Expect to see designs that are humorous and surprising on-shelf, with brands becoming more human and less authoritative. We’ll also see packaging design meet new codes of assurances that did not exist before – communicating authenticity of production and origin, storytelling to create a sense of purpose and belonging, and reasons to invest beyond price.

Secondly, as a reaction to the reduction in store dwell time, we can expect packaging design to become more direct and better targeted towards its customer base. Smart, minimalist designs, from construction to messaging and graphics, will take the edge over extravagant design aesthetics. Packaging will be increasingly used to convey messaging that we traditionally see in advertising – including limited editions, seasonal varieties, special calendar dates, and so on.

Finally, another key theme in 2021 will be the explicit focus on sustainability. Despite the pandemic squeezing wallets and shifting priorities, consumers remain conscientious – especially among younger consumers. Sustainability is fast becoming non-negotiable, and so the opportunity for brands will be how they meet these demands through innovation and acceleration of newer ideas, such as circular economies and re-use initiatives. Those that combine brand and sustainability to create unique consumer experiences through their packaging will be the winners that transform “doing good” into a competitive advantage.

What is your favourite packaging design project from 2020 and why?

This year I greatly admired 4 Life Mineral Water’s packaging design. It focuses on the earth’s natural environment and the conservation of natural sources to deliver a compelling story around water being the liquid of life. It delivers a very differentiated message by portraying the delicate balance of animal habitats and eco-systems to truly stand out, beautifully, from the competition.

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