Packaging Design

Seven Packaging Design Trends To Look Forward To In 2020


Sustainability has been a prime trend in 2019 and the coming year will not be different. One of the main aspects this trend will focus on will be companies making packaging from 100% recyclable materials. This has recently been exemplified in Coca-Cola’s marketing campaign to encourage consumers to recycle its bottles.

COLOURFORM marketing manager Hannah March said: “Packaging is no longer ‘just a box’ and change is coming thick and fast. As consumer concern about plastic grows and new technologies change what is possible, businesses need to start thinking outside of the box – literally. It is without question that the demand for recyclable materials in packaging and materials that are actually recycled will grow and become higher than ever in 2020. Natural materials may soon replace common plastics and help brands strengthen their environmentally-friendly credentials. We can take a used coffee cup or use virgin fibre from renewable sources and transform it into beautiful packaging that really challenges plastic. With this innovation, brands such as those in the drinks industry have the capability to marry the need for responsible packaging with the desire for a premium experience.”

Corrugated packaging provider DS Smith head of marketing and innovation Teresa Del Re said: “As we enter 2020, we expect to see real changes across the packaging spectrum, whether for e-commerce, FMCG or point of sale materials. The focus on sustainability and plastic replacement is increasingly at the forefront of packaging strategy for leading brands. Replacing single-use plastic with widely recycled material – such as corrugated – will go a long way. In addition, innovations such as reusable printed sleeves that sit over multiple-use corrugated boxes will [trend] and help ensure that brands can meet consumer demands for sustainable and more environmentally friendly packaging solutions.”

Natural & Colour Pallettes

As mentioned, taking a more ecological approach to packaging is going to be one of the biggest packaging trends in 2020. But expect the earth-inspired trend to extend past just materials—and directly into the colours, brands choose to incorporate into their brand colour palettes. “In 2020, brands are looking for more subtle and earthy tones for their products.” – 99designs designer Obacht.

Overtly warm colours such as Pantone’s 2019 Colour of the Year, Living Coral, will give way to cool colours such as 2020’s Colour of the year: Classic Blue. The anniversary of the moon landing this year and the Mars Rover mission in 2020 are also influencing a lunar colour palette, while environmental concerns involving a longing for cleaner oceans and purity in our provenance are bringing forth a sea of blues and greens.


Mad Beauty, head of new product development Lisa Dower said: “Clean packaging [and] simplistic designs [will be a trend for 2020]. Focusing on product ingredients, this trend ties in with the sustainability trend, as consumers believe less complex packaging is more environmentally friendly than over-engineered packaging.”

There’s something inherently satisfying about simple structure in design. Not only is it visually appealing, but it also lends a sense of balance and order to design—which is why more neatly structured, ordered layouts are becoming a major trend in the packaging world.

Lifestyle Packaging global head of marketing Rich Quelch said: “Packaging aesthetics will play an increasingly important role in catching the consumer’s eye in 2020. Even more so for the ‘Instagram generation’ – digital natives who are used to seeing aesthetically perfect images from their friends, influencers and brands alike. More brands will be investing in updating their primary packaging – glass and plastic bottles, caps and closures – with decorative techniques, such as etching, metallisation, hot stamping, screen printing and anodizing, helping to translate brand identity directly onto the product.”

Aesthetics will always be important to the packaging sector, and for 2020 packaging design will continue to be minimalist with decorate features. Moreover, digital print will also become more popular for luxury packaging.

Emotional Engagement

“Packaging should tell a story as you unbox. Online, packaging has to carry more weight due to the lack of a store-front experience.” – Will Krispin, Director of Strategic Development at 99designs.
Packaging design is becoming more of a story telling medium for the brand. For example, Paper Boat has been quite successful using this trick. Paper Boat images tell the story of childhood experiences and evoke nostalgia.

The rules are now changing very quickly. Consumers want more than just a product. They want to be part of a story. Studies have revealed that people are impacted by emotions, rather than information when making brand decisions. Emotional content is popular in advertising, social media, and consumers, with positive sentiments leading the way.

To engage with consumers emotions, what way is better that personalization? Either they help create the pack or they get to choose according to their likes and moods. Consumers emotions are directly involved in this type of packaging and it connects the brand on a deeper level with them.


Many products, like beverages or skincare products, have a colour of their own—and in 2020, expect brands to show off their product’s colour and incorporate it into their packaging design.

“This design trend is especially found with beverages, as the print can be done directly onto glass or with the use of a transparent sticker. Brands mostly use the colour white in contrast to the product’s actual colour as a background colour.” – 99designs designer Obacht.

Using transparent packaging works great to create a minimal design. It also gets focus on the product itself putting it on the centre stage. On the other hand, transparency helps in adding a trust factor as well. When one gets to see the actual product before buying it you know the brand has nothing to hide.

As per the research on Packaging & Consumer Behaviour in 2020, “38% of consumers are willing to purchase a newly launched product with clear product information”. People are conscious of what they eat. Although food packaging contains information on ingredients, reading the fine print can be hard. Food companies are adopting transparent packaging to showcase the product.

Clear packaging can help you upscale your brand identity and assist consumers in making a knowledgeable purchase.


“Retro-futurism might appear like an oxymoron. However, the truth is, retro and futuristic design can work well together, invoking both feelings of nostalgia (retro) and anticipation (futurism). 2020 will see package designers using the current gradient trend as a jumping-off point for creating packaging that pairs both futuristic and retro design elements to create remarkable designs that will appeal to a wide variety of consumers.” – 99designs designer goopanic.

We can expect a great deal of neon colours, bold gradients, and retro design touches (like minimalist logos and retro-inspired typography) to come together in unique, unexpected, and on-trend ways.

Smart Packaging

In a world that is becoming techno savvy in almost all the aspects of life, the packaging needed to get “smart” as well. In the new report Smart Packaging 2019-2029, IDTechEx Research finds that electronic smart packaging will become a $1.8 Billion market in 2029. NFC chips or printed QR codes, Smart Labels that can be scanned using a smartphone to provide more information about the product, like its source or certification or its usage guide or even a recipe. New technologies have now come to market including flexible ICs which will help to reduce the cost of NFC labels further, making it applicable to tagging more things. Some brands are already integrating these scannable contents in their packaging design and this trend is definitely going up in coming years.

Deepti, Partner, Director-Strategy & Design, Tricycle Tribe Creative Ventures Pvt. Ltd. has a decade of experience in the Branding Industry. She was one of the core team member of former Yellow now DYWORKS and her competent professional journey transcended her from a creative genius to a sharp Marketing Strategist. She founded WOW DESIGN in 2009 with an intent to make a mark in the Evolving Branding Universe. Due to some changing dynamics in the leadership team, WOW Design had to be dissolved as a company. She is now a co founder and Chief Design Strategist at TCT Branding, a futuristic branding company, that works with a holistic perspective towards Branding with core belief in Empathy driven strategies.

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