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Future of Packaging Report 2022

Adam Ryan, Head of Pentawards and Creative Director, Packaging Portfolio, Easyfairs, and Naomi Stewart, Marketing Manager, Easyfairs, reflect on the latest developments in packaging design

It’s December 2022, and we are reflecting on what has happened over the last 12 months.

Through the Pentawards competition and Easyfairs packaging events, Naomi and I have had the privilege to access thousands of pieces of packaging and have seen the latest developments in packaging from around the world. From all of this, we have identified three key trends that are set to shape packaging in the year to come.

Packaging that caters to a wider variety of consumers is becoming a must-have for many brands. With 1 billion people around the world living with some form of disability, this actually shouldn’t be a trend – we should always design for humans, not consumers.

A great example created in partnership with people with disabilities is the packaging for Microsoft’s Surface Adaptive Kit, which was designed to be both accessible and sustainable. The packaging contains special labels that cater to those with visual impairments, with features including integrated loops for easy removal, as well as an embossed, braille QR code.

This trend is bound to develop as brands’ understanding of the diversity of their audiences and their needs evolves. At the Pentawards Festival 2022, Jeremy Lindley,
global design director of Diageo, has emphasised the danger of unconscious bias and the importance of empathy in design.

He has also spoken about playfulness being one of the most important tools for creating truly inclusive design. We expect to see many more ‘playful’ packaging designs for diverse audiences in the next few years.

With the personal care and beauty industry producing more than 120 billion units of packaging every year, it’s no secret that brands and agencies have been looking for ways to reduce their impact. While this is not new, we have seen more brands communicate with consumers about what more can be done to create a sustainable life cycle for packaging.

Last year, we saw a lot of brands telling their own sustainability story
through packaging, but communication around sustainability has progressed in the past year. By educating consumers on how they can dispose of various elements of packaging places some responsibility on the consumer and turns them into active participants in the creation of
an environmentally friendly model.

Colgate’s ‘Recycle Me’ toothpaste tube, which is the first of its kind, aims to raise awareness of recycling and promote behaviour change in
consumers. Similarly, Carte D’Or’s Affogati line of ice cream has switched to 100% compostable and recyclable paper, with instructions on what elements to recycle or compost.

There is a real opportunity here for brands to involve consumers in the sustainability and recyclability story of their product and packaging. This in turn could foster greater loyalty between consumers and brands as they feel a shared responsibility for the planet.

Brands are continually finding
new ways to communicate and
engage with consumers. In recent years, we have seen a sharp rise in smart and connected packaging,
which has allowed consumers to engage more with the product and
the brand.

FaceGym is an environmentally
friendly, sports-inspired beauty
brand complete with unique personal trainer-like application techniques only accessible via QR code.
They created a tactile pull-off tab to open the product in a unique and memorable way, capturing the consumer’s attention and piquing interest. Cleverly hidden codes were then revealed, which the user could scan to improve their results.

With technology and social media becoming increasingly sophisticated, we look forward to seeing new and innovative ways of brands connecting with consumers beyond what’s displayed on the box. We also
expect a lot of this content to engage consumers with topical issues as well as the sustainable story behind each product.

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