The Power of Packaging

How many times have we all walked into a retail store with a predetermined list of items and a strong sense of the brands we plan to purchase, only to be enticed into a different decision based on compelling packaging? Your packaging can be the great equalizer at the point of product selection. Sometimes, it can make us select one established, credible brand over another. Other times, the right packaging can encourage trial of newer, more entrepreneurial brands due to an alignment of values and dietary priorities. As consumer habits continue to evolve, so too does the influence of brand personality and messaging on packaging. Here are some tips to stay ahead of these consumer trends and make sure you are maximizing this valuable real estate.


1. Turn your packaging into an immersive shopping experience

Interactive packaging is becoming an effective way for brands to tell more of their story and create a deeper connection with their customers, because it can educate, entertain and motivate purchase at the point of selection. By utilizing the technology already in the shopper’s hands, they can scan your product to trigger augmented reality, mobile video or even product offers. Brands like 19 Crimes have used this approach successfully with their portfolio of wines.


Image: Forbes


2. Design for the modern shopper

Consumers spent $861.12 billion online in 2020, in part because of a fear of getting sick. As the world reopens and people are more comfortable journeying back to retail, there are still lingering fears. McKinsey & Company reported a survey that showed “…more than two-thirds of US consumers worry about contracting COVID-19 from food packaging and that more than 40 percent use household disinfectants to clean the products they buy.” Therefore, it’s important to make sure your packaging is designed for both an online shopping experience and to support a hygienic, traditional retail experience. For instance:

  • Use a minimalistic design approach with bold accent colors. This will help catch the shopper’s attention and allow the product itself to stand out both in-person or in a small online space.
  • Place influencing information usually reserved for the back of the pack right on the front, to reduce the need for customers to handle the product while deciding, and to make it easier for online shoppers to make a quick decision.
  • Include transparent packaging where potential customers can easily see what’s inside, while reinforcing the idea that you don’t need to touch to know what you are getting.
  • Find out what grosses out your consumer and solve for it. For example, paperboard toppers are now being used to keep the tops of cans covered and clean to avoid contamination while in the warehouse or on the shelf.

Image: Packaging Digest


3. Have an environmental conscience

More than ever, consumers are keeping an eye out for brands that help reduce waste and contribute to an eco-friendlier environment. If your brand truly cares about sustainability, or just wants to make sure it’s not being vetoed for its environmental impact, it will be important to keep up with latest trends. Broadly speaking, consider a few key factors:

  • Is my packaging easily recyclable and made using recycled materials?
  • Can my packaging be easily repurposed or reused?
  • Can I reduce the amount of packaging I am using?
  • Does my packaging take advantage of the latest substrates, such as bioplastics and biodegradable packaging made from cornstarch and mushrooms?
  • Am I properly communicating the use of sustainable packaging as part of my brand story?


Ultimately, packaging is more than just the material that holds your product. It’s an extension of your brand and it allows an opportunity to tell your brand’s story. Even more importantly, it gives an opportunity to influence decisions at the point of product selection and drive revenue for your business. Without question, 2020 was one of the most transformative years for shopping behavior. The brands that understand the new habits of their customers, along with the emotional and practical triggers that lead to purchase, will be the ones that stand out from the others. They will develop packaging with the greatest shelf appeal and win the hearts, minds and wallets of shoppers.


To help craft your brand story on packaging, contact David Melnick, VP of Strategic Partnerships at 410.336.1000 or [email protected] to discuss ideas.




  • Ali, Fareeha. US ecommerce grows 44.0% in 2020, Digital Commerce 360, January 2021.
  • Beermann, Brittney. Top retail packaging design trends for 2021, XCEED, October 2020.
  • Connolly, Kate Bertrand. Hygienic packaging designs calm virus-related anxiety, Packaging Digest, February 2021.
  • Feber, David, Kobeli, Lea, Lingqvist, Oskar, and Nordigarden, Daniel. Beyond covid-19: The next normal for packaging design, McKinsey & Company, July 2020.


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