5 Packaging Design Trends 2016

Grasping the dynamics of the global market is crucial to any innovation or design initiative. Knowing what makes consumers tick, and how the industry is evolving, will help you kick off the creation of your future business in the right direction. Kristina de Verdier creates an annual report on emerging trends in the packaging industry. Here is an executive summary of the 2016 insights.



Attitudes are changing. People do understand the urgency of environmental threats – and crave products and services that are smart, responsible and transparent. People increasingly accept the idea of access rather than ownership. The question is, how can companies make it easy for people to do the right thing. It’s time to look carefully into how to apply circular economy principles to packaging design.

Key attributes: Sharing resources, circularity thinking, renewable sources, locally produced, social responsibility, friendly, transparent.


new seaweed based material packaging design 1

Agar-derived packaging: New seaweed based material which could replace plastic packaging. Created by the design agency, AMAM, from Japan. They have developed a more environmentally-friendly plastic material, based on Agar.

Tomorrow machine sustainable packaging trends 2016

Future of sustainable packaging: Swedish research company Innventia teamed up with designers Anna Glansén and Hanna Billqvist from design agency Tomorrow Machine to develop a sustainable package customised for freeze-dried food. This self-expanding instant food package combines different aspects of sustainability. It saves space in transportation by being compressed – at the same time it is made out of a 100% bio based and biodegradable material, invented by Innventia. When pouring hot water into the package the mechano-active material will react to the heat and transform from a compressed package to a serving bowl. There are more concepts on the same theme, check them out.

tetra rex renewable packaging material trends 2016

First fully-renewable package: Tetra Rex® Bio-based is manufactured solely from a combination of plastics derived from sugar cane and paperboard. The bio-based plastics used by Tetra Pak are produced by Brazilian chemical company, Braskem, which sources all of its feedstock from sugar cane grown on degraded pastures.




People are stressed, with busy lives, and are getting increasingly overwhelmed by stuff. Consumers tend to think they need so many useless things, when all they really need is time to breathe. For packaging designers there is a constant challenge to make slimmer packaging, which is easy and intuitive to use. We must reduce the clutter on the shelves, and have a top notch integration between the product and the packaging.

Key attributes: Less packaging, intuitive and user-friendly, harmonious, reduce the clutter, integration product/package.


Vain Sthlm originals identity works packaging design 4

Packaging is the product: There are headphones that sound good, but look clumsy and too technical. And there are headphones that look good but sound poor and break easily. Identity Works created a look that matches the sound-quality of the headphones. The package is a major part of the whole product experience; simplistic and beautiful. VAIN STHLM designed by Identity Works.

french press packaging design trends 2016

Eye-catching and simple: The YIELD Ceramic French Press is a functional and beautiful addition to the kitchen table. The packaging also embraces a clean approach that is eye-catching and simple, with shining gold graphics against a crisp white background. Designed by Yield, an independent design house in Saint Augustine, Florida.

egg packaging design trends 2016

Consumers can’t remember what they were looking for: A private label brand based on the simplest and the most iconic metaphor of shopping. “It’s a shopping list. Its design is as plain and clear as possible, because you [and any other consumer] are busy and don’t want to waste time on thousands of logos, colours and images. Nothing should sidetrack your attention: just follow your shopping list!” Designed by Russian Depot WPF.




Consumers are able to shop anytime, anywhere and are becoming increasingly demanding when it comes to convenience. More and more smart products make the way into people’s everyday lives. The same goes for packaging, which is developed to provide enhanced functionality such as moisture control, indicate status or communicate product changes and other information. Food & beverages and pharmaceutical are probably the largest markets for smart packaging, with opportunities driven by e.g. the healthcare needs of the ageing population.

Key attributes: Enhanced functionality, instant information, communicate product changes, connection to devices, sensory experiences


ifood bag packaging trends 2016

Keep the chilled and frozen food up to 24 hours: iFoodbag is a Swedish start-up company and newcomer in the packaging industry. The iFoodbag® is an innovative bag made from a composite material that can protect chilled and frozen food for up to 24 hours as a packaging solution.


TSMGO Glow in dark packaging design 4

Fluorescent ink: Beer packaging, with illustrations which symbolise each of the styles of beer. It is printed with fluorescent inks to reinforce the intention of illumination, to bring light to this delicately crafted drink. Devotion to beer, designed by TSMGO from Spain.

Fresh meter smart packaging trends 2016

Smart packaging for food safety: Retailer chain Fresh & Easy’s branded seafood packaging carries a Fresh Meter time-temperature-indicator (TTI) label that, when activated inline during packaging, provides assurance of high-quality, safe foods from store to home. Fresh Meter is a branded application of Bizerba’s “OnVu” technology that uses “intelligent” temperature-sensitive ink to print the dynamic indicator.




To make a purchase decision, consumers need to “believe” in the product. They look for sensory signals from the packaging, such as material detailing, to help them assess the product within. In order to create memorable experiences we need to focus on the moments that matter the most to people, in the analogue world as well as the digital.

Key attributes: Care about the details, material innovations, tailored experiences, social media integration, nostalgia, authenticity, share with peers.


Vivel Pastisserie Packaging Design

Love is in the details: VIVEL Patisserie is a family-owned business that opened its first store in Dubai in 1992, with currently nine VIVEL stores in the United Arab Emirates. Founder is Iranian Shahnaz Bagherzadeh. “My love and passion for my sweets began when I was young visiting my grandmother’s farm in Northern Iran.” The love and passion go all the way from the sweets itself to the packaging design: tea bags in a cloth-like material with stitches, beautiful patterns, thoughtful shapes and materials and golden details, to give just a few examples.

Pilot project interactive packaging trends 2016

Social media integrated: The small-batch, limited edition cider is made at Oliver Winery in Bloomington, Indiana, and they thrive for experimentation with their offerings. They also embrace social media, including the hashtag #owtastetest on the bottle and encouraging drinkers to share their thoughts.

halo top icecream packaging design 4

Material effects for shelf impact: It’s a challenge to create something that stands out in the ice cream aisle today. In the natural, ice cream category brands often show a picture of the product or ingredients on the label. Halo Top made it bold and different, with golden material details and sparkling patterns. Halo Top designed by Peck & Co.




Consumers’ demand for new and improved products has been continually increasing during the last few decades. It’s hard to define the unknown and do it with relevance. But when it’s done successfully people say ‘aha’, and cannot remember a time when this product did not exist. Designers work hard to help brands being the one that paves the way – And define something completely new for the future. The design cues are crucial to make this new product meaningful.

Key attributes: Bold, new, stretch the boundaries, meaningful, playful, consumer-centered


Seedlip packaging design 3

The world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit: Seedlip, inspired by the art of nature. Pearlfisher crafted a design language that reimagines the distillation of natural ingredients, informed by herbal remedies of the 17th century.

carlsberg schampoo packaging design 2

Unexpected product in the right context: As many other brands do globally, Carlsberg is shifting their marketing investment, from traditional media to digital and social media channels. They are delivering brand communications where they appear in unexpected contexts. Or as they explain, they want to be present in the right contexts! Carlsberg recently launched a quite unexpected product. Together with the Danish beauty brand Urtegaarden they created Beer Beauty, a range of beauty products based on beer from Carlsberg.

WWF just* packaging innovation design

Question the standards: Just is a WWF initiative created to show that there are often simple and natural alternatives to many of the products we use every day – products that require packaging that uses up resources and often end up as landfill. A few simple steps are all it takes to make small changes that, when done by many, can help create a cleaner and more sustainable future.



Make sure you are up-to-speed with the latest from the packaging design world. Welcome to get in touch to book your in-depth keynote session. Perfect for seminars, workshops and internal meetings.

By Kristina de Verdier On 24 March, 2016 Leave a comment