Five package design trends discussed at IoPP’s Leadership Conference

Brand owners and their packaging supply chains that want to stay at the forefront of effective packaging strategies on store shelves should pay attention to current trends, and Jim George, IoPP’s Director of Education, listed five of them in a presentation at IoPP’s Leadership Conference on May 11:

  • Shorter runs and more customization
  • The continued evolution of private label
  • Structural innovation as the leading driver of perceived product innovation
  • The integration of branding positioning and sustainability messages
  • Innovative, value-added retail solutions

Shorter runs and more customization. Both retailers and consumers are putting added pressure on consumer packaged goods companies to not only get products to market faster, and just how customers want them, but also to frequently change out product presentations in the store.

Wal-Mart refers to this notion of continually updating product presentations on shelf as a “treasure hunt;” shoppers can expect to find new products and packaged units of sale inside the store. Jim mentioned customized three-packs of Wishbone salad dressing, including one bottle containing a specially flavored dressing, as an example of a packaging format specific to Sam’s Club.

Evolution of private label. Retailers are getting savvier in positioning their brands strategically, and packaging is playing a more essential role as retailers hire away seasoned branding and design talent away from CPG companies. Retailers that think strategically are evolving away from “me too” packaging and into roles as value innovators and also offering high-quality exclusives, where distinctive flavor profiles and packaging set the stores’ own brands apart.Target and Wegmans are two chains taking this approach.

Structural innovation. Shape is gaining almost equal footing with color in consumers’ visual hierarchy for packaging, and the importance of shape and also using materials effectively in support of the brand’s promise is affirmed through Shelf Impact!’s ongoing package innovation survey. Brand owners willing to make the investment in distinctive structural design can gain additional equity in their brand and often increase sales of their product.

Integrating branding and sustainability messages. It used to be that the brand positioning was its own reward and the marketing department said, “Oh yes, and by the way, our package is ‘sustainable.’” Often, those words carried no real meaning, but now leading-edge brands are incorporating real sustainability initiatives into their product branding messages. Two cases in point: Seventh Generation’s paper bottle for laundry detergent and Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle.

Innovative, value-added retail solutions. Jim noted several examples of brand owners who are pushing the envelope in getting the right product in the right package to stores faster than ever. He cited Morton Salt’s new initiative in getting a special club store package to market as a way to capitalize on consumers’ penchant for more at-home cooking, and also to increase sales in club stores.

Interestingly, the club packs, and the retail-ready pallets they sit on, were designed and executed on-site at Morton Salt using a mobile lab. The design phase, from start to finish, was completed in one day, with all stakeholders involved on-site. Morton Salt notes that this approach shaves weeks to months off the traditional linear approach to package design and approvals.

For more information, contact Jim George, IoPP Director of Education, e-mail