Packaging, Consumer Trends Conference
Ceradini front, USA, Christoph Waldau Germany, Anna Lukanina Russia, Gail Macleod SA, Tracy Huang Xihua China and Jacques Liebenberg, Stratcom’s CFO.

Design For Disruption

So you were just getting your packaging sorted for the Millennials. Too late! Get ready for the Digital Nomads. These and other insights from the recent Global Local Branding Alliance GLBA conference in Johannesburg. Marisa Spiros was there

From culture to heritage, history, wired millennials and younger “digital nomads”, drivers of global packaging trends are limited only by the imagination. Top trends include design and packaging that is beautiful, “clean”, sustainable and increasingly “smart”, entertaining and interactive. 

Bold use of colour and typography continue to be key design trends. And oh, yes a reminder thatlocal and regional relevance are important in packaging. And mass packaging doesn’t have to mean pedestrian in design or materials. 

These were key elements in the Global Local Branding Alliance GLBA ninth biannual conference on the theme, Consumer Insights and Packaging Trends, held in Sandton early March and attended by heavyweights from SA’s leading foodbev companies. 

Hosted by GLBA founder Gail MacLeod, Stratcom CEO, the alliance is a mix of six other likeminded, multiawardwinning agencies from Germany, the USA, China, Russian, Turkey and Brazil, all of them packaging specialists. 

Why invest so much in design? “Because it is proven to facilitate growth,” GLBA’s USA member David Ceradini, founder and Executive Creative Director of New York-based Ceradini Brand Design, told the conference.

Package design is the” first point of contact with the actual product”, Ceradini said. It’s where “the rubber meets the road”. It influences consumer perceptions of the brand and its values. 

It’s important to make that connection and good first impression because design is a consistent marketing tool in packaging. 

Ceradini has seen packaging’s future and said the major players driving it are even younger than the millennials. They are Generation Z: 11to16yearold “digital nomads”. They are socially conscious and responsible. They are born and bred in technology and social media, which gives them a real sense of community, and through Instagram and Snapchat, a connection with the big brands. 

Simplicity and personalisation are also major drivers of packaging design, said Ceradini. Minimalism in design connects with perceived quality and the idea that “less is more”. 

Brands are shifting to connecting with customers through individualisation and personalisation as well as subscriptionbased services and products to maintain customer loyalty. This strategy “proliferates human connection with their brands”, Ceradini said. 

Health and wellness remain a big driver of packaging design. The trend is towards wholefood ingredients and natural products, and transparency on all goods and products. 

Allied to this are sustainability and clean labelling elements, the use of recyclable material and an emphasis on less processed products. 

One of the biggest takeaways, said Ceradini, is consumer support for local companies. In South Africa, that would be the growing resurgence of the “local is lekker” movement. 

Heritage is a consistent theme in packaging trend globally. Ceradini said consumers are increasingly favouring brands that have a history, and there’s a correlation of history with quality. 

There’s also a resurgence of the “good ol’ days” and “retro”, with an emphasis on authenticity and a feeling of ”hand craftsmanship”. 

At heart, the heritage trend is about making the old new again, Ceradini said, and transitioning from old school to new technology. It’s also about breathing new life into and reinventing “dead” products with design elements that draw on heritage and authenticity, transparency and “real story”. 

Artificial intelligence Al is increasingly being used to streamline and automate design. Ceradini called Al the “human brain on steroids”. 

Digital crowdsourcing is another trend. Producers in big and small industries can now design their own packaging online by first handing over basic elements to freelance designers for refinements in a “competition” of sorts. It’s packaging design that is “executional in nature”, he said, and allows for “design by democracy”. 

And when it comes to smart packaging, the East is just as far as the West, as GLBA’s China member, Tracy Huang Xihua, showed the meeting. 

Xihua is an Account Director at Flamesun Brand Design in Shanghai. She used her mobile phone to show how easily packaging turns into multimedia. And how augmented reality AR creates another level of interaction with the consumer. 

Millennial consumers in particular want “more than a product”, Xihua says. “They want entertainment.” 

GLBA’s German partner Christoph Waldau, a selfconfessed “packaging freak”, is fully on board with that thinking. 

Waldau is CEO of Berlinbased B+P Berndt+Partner Packaging Creality.”Creality” is their madeup word for “the creative approach to reality. Among B+P’s clients are CocaCola, McDonald’s, Kellogg’s, Maggi and Nestlé. 

With a background in packaging engineering and an MBA, he is steeped in the benefits of technology and German engineering for product design. 

Waldau said smart packaging has endless possibilities. He showed off an interactive “first” a Heineken Ignite interactive bottle that connects partygoers to each other at a club and to the club. With LED microprocessers, “every bottle becomes part of the party”, Waldau says.

And while innovation is a buzzword in package design, Waldau said what’s most important is how best to deal with innovation. That requires seeing packaging holistically. 

Changing packaging to bring in added value to the consumer motivates them to pay more, Waldau said. ‘That’s the power of packaging”. 

But there doesn’t even have to be added value. Innovative printing technologies can change the message, he said. 

“Limited editions” are another innovative arm that doesn’t necessarily involve added value but that can build brand loyalty. 

Limited editions can contribute to regional relevance, as GLBA’s Russian partner Anna Lukanina of Depot WPF, showed in her conference presentation. One example is Lipton’s Tea packaged in matryoshka Russian nesting dolls. 

Of course, with fast moving consumer goods, there is the cost issue. And food manufacturers can’t necessarily afford all these innovative design features on all packaging. But that doesn’t mean the packaging has to be boring, said Waldau. 

Caption 1: Artificial intelligence Al is increasingly being used to streamline and automate design. The Nutella marketing team used Al to generate 7 million unique, collectible, limited editions designs, a few of which are shown below. 

Caption 2: Making the old new again: a limited edition makeover for Marmite. The label aims to attract younger ‘Generation Z’ consumers while not alienating its loyal and traditional consumer base. 

Published in: Food & Beverage Reporter, Packaging & Processing Reporter


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