Want to nail your product packaging? Here are the top product packaging design trends the experts are seeing in 2022.
Product packaging can serve so many purposes – from protecting and preserving your products to positioning your brand and connecting with your customers. Whether you design your packaging for functionality and practicality or creativity and innovation, the choices you make around product packaging can be critical for your brand or business. In fact, 72% of American consumers say their purchasing decision is heavily influenced by the packaging design of the products they buy (or don’t).
As with any area of design, product packaging is largely influenced by creative trends and technological advancements. While the last couple of years saw chic, sleek product packaging and minimalist designs trending, in 2022, product packaging is evolving to be more focused on practicality, sustainability, and organic, handcrafted design.
Whether you’re looking to design cutting-edge packaging for your products or simply want a glimpse at the hottest new visual trends, we’ve called on a range of industry experts to share the top product packaging trends they’re loving right now. From gradients and eccentric typography to pack-vertising and sustainable packaging, here are the top product packaging design trends for 2022.
Hand-drawn elements have been one of the biggest design trends of the past few years, and plenty of brands and businesses are integrating illustration into their product packaging design. This includes everything from minimalist illustration and line art to geometric and 3D design, all of which can add a touch of personality and charm to your products.
“I’m absolutely loving the illustrative elements we’re seeing in packaging right now,” says Kristy Campbell, CEO of Pink Pony Creative. “I add illustrations into a lot of my work because they’re such a fun, relatable element. Using illustrations can also be a great way to tell a brand’s story.”
The rise of digital illustration software such as Procreate and Adobe Illustrator has also seen many designers combining illustration with other mediums such as photography and video, resulting in stunning digital collages. This style often features photos, brushstrokes, natural textures, handwritten fonts, and illustrations. Using collage in your product packaging is a great way to show your brand’s creative flair, and a stunning box or carton will help entice customers to purchase your product.
“The gradient trend in product packaging is a favorite of mine,” says Kristy. “Gradients immediately give any design a cool, trendy vibe. Pair it with a matte finish, and you’re good to go!”
With a blend of two or more similar or contrasting colors, gradients often feature soft tones and grainy, experimental textures to create an ethereal look and feel. Whether bold and bright or subtle and muted, gradients can be used as an accent or a background to make any product stand out on the shelf.
“The creative, gradient color layering that’s being incorporated in product packaging is breathtaking,” Asif continues. “It really results in an eye-catching, vibrant finished package.”
Choosing the right font is essential in communicating your brand. By wrapping your product name or description up in the right visual package, you can communicate your personality and your product’s vibe in just a few words.
“Typography is an art form in itself,” says Asif. “Identifying the right fonts and text, paired with a minimalistic background or contrasting colors can truly make a product’s design stand out.”
Experimental, eccentric typography is a trend that’s all about ripping up the font rulebook and crossing the boundaries of traditional typography. We’re seeing a lot of packaging designers experiment with negative space, clashing colors, optical illusions, and jumbled or distorted letters to give products a cool edge.
“I’m loving the use of eccentric typography in product packaging,” says Kristy. “Seeing unique font combinations or experimental, the stylized text gives packaging designs a fun, edgy and powerful look.”
Over the last few years, digital illustration, digital watercolor, and other artistic styles have driven the popularity of ‘handcrafted’ product packaging. As organic design continues to grow in demand, we’re seeing packaging designers select a more handmade, handcrafted style.
“One design trend that I’m seeing a lot is the ‘handcrafted’ look,” says James Tait, Print Production Manager at The Sticker Company. “More and more people are asking for brown or craft paper with plain white or black printing. Shiny and new-looking packaging is now long gone and the world of the slightly unpolished is here.”
Evoking a raw, hand-crafted style, this product packaging trend features natural textures such as wood, paper, and twine, and crafty mediums like illustration and collage. This design trend is perfect for adding a quaint, homemade feel to your products.
“The DIY aesthetic has to be one of my faves, and it’s become increasingly popular as brand and customer preferences shift towards supporting local and conscious consumption,” says Envato Lead Digital Designer, Sophie Dunn. “The typically earthy, natural, organic tones and materials this aesthetic is known for has a way of making you feel you’re supporting the greater good and embracing the beauties and perfect imperfections of human craft.”
Add a handcrafted feel to your next project with these Collage Paper Textures. Or, try out one of the organic design-inspired product mockups below.
With environmental issues continuing to impact both our planet and everyday lives, brands and businesses are looking to make their products and packaging more sustainable and eco-friendly. This is driven by customer demand, with 32% of Australian consumers now saying they prefer products that come in eco-friendly packaging.
“Many businesses have placed more importance on using sustainable, compostable, renewable, and recyclable packaging,” says Min Ker, Designer at The Key Branding.
James Tait adds: “as people become more aware of their environmental impact, fewer plastics and silicones are being used in packaging production and there’s more focus on reusable packaging. We recently did a project for a bicycle company where the package that the bike arrived in is also its travel box – useful for moving house, or storage if you’re tight for space.”
While sustainable packaging is undeniably the way of the future, sustainable options may still be out of reach for new brands or small businesses with limited manpower and budgets. However, Phil Forbes – Senior Marketer at Packhelp – says that honesty, transparency, and a commitment to being more sustainable can be enough to let consumers know you’re on the right track.
“Cutting edge sustainable materials like mushroom-based packaging or edible packaging are fantastic, but that’s well out of reach for small brands looking to grow, scale and spread brand awareness,” says Phil. “Many small brands are defeated by the complexities of sustainable packaging. More often than not, it’s honesty and transparency that wins over the customer, rather than having a perfectly sustainable packaging solution. Saying something as simple as, ‘We’re not perfect, but we’re headed in that direction. Here’s what you need to make an informed decision’, can help to show your commitment.”
Following on from the world of sustainable packaging, our next trend is focused on reducing waste, maximizing space, and making the most of a product’s packaging – without compromising brand identity. Value-Engineered packaging is about using every bit of a product’s packaging for maximum functionality – whether that be for storage and shipping, repurposing and reusability, or to advertise your brand.
“Value-engineered packaging – designing packaging from the ground up – is the best way to lower your brand’s carbon footprint. There’s no excess space or material, and storage and security are built into the design,” explains Phil. “Brands are now also using the inside of their packaging for advertising, as it doubles the amount of space you have to design,” says Phil. “You can add instructions for your customers to create UGC, disposal information, say thanks – there’s so much you can communicate on the inside of your packaging, where only your customer will look.”
Also coined ‘pack-vertising’ by those in the industry, this trend can be a great way to get creative with your packaging, increase brand awareness, and add extra value to your customers’ purchasing experience.
“Pack-vertising refers to using a product’s packaging as its primary advertising tool – in other words, your entire marketing strategy revolves around your packaging,” explains Phil. “Clients are using custom printing to make their packaging highly engaging and insightful. For instance, they’ll have their box convert into something extraordinary – like a board game. Or, maybe they’ll use packaging real estate to profile workers and give consumers a deeper look into their company. The possibilities really are endless.”
Personalization has become a huge marketing trend over the past decade. With new brands and businesses launching all the time, consumers are becoming increasingly selective with the products they’re choosing to purchase. A marketing method popular everywhere from social media and email to display advertising, personalization is now being incorporated into product packaging too.
“Another great trend that we’re seeing at Packwire is custom packaging,” says Phil. “It’s an approach we often see taken by subscription box companies, where they’ll personalize colors, visuals, and even special messages for clients.”
This trend is great for building relationships with your customers and clients by demonstrating that you value them. In fact, 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that provides a tailored purchasing experience.
Personalization can also be used to modify your product for different audiences in different markets, or to A/B test your product packaging to determine which design is more popular with your customers.
“Often, you see brands releasing different packaging based on different markets,” Phil explains. “Or sometimes, they’re even using different packaging within the same market to test the waters. This type of variety was once too expensive for small businesses, but today’s digital printing solutions and custom design tools make it all possible.”