Trends in Packaging and Brand Strategy for 2013

With the dawn of each New Year, comes a new set of trends. Whether it is fashion, food, music, television or travel, 1 January tends to herald a new set of rules, and packaging design is certainly no exception.

Let’s face it, 2012 hardly brought about the end to the financial woes that all of us were hoping for. Economic stability has been about as changeable as the weather, and as we enter 2013, there appears to be no smooth ride just around the corner. However, one thing that I can see changing is the approach that clients are taking to packaging.

In 2012 there was an element of fierce competition and it was all about achieving shelf-standout against the competitors in order to increase sales. With this approach in mind, there was a ‘throw money at it and see what happens’ ethos. Inevitably, for some, that approach did not work and belts have had to be tightened. The mantra for 2013 will be ‘use money wisely’.

We all know that not many brands can afford to stand still, and one thing is for sure —it is still a highly competitive consumer marketplace out there. Despite a continued lack of disposable income on the part of both the consumer and brand, shoppers still crave something new and exciting, and brands need to be seen to feed that appetite.

The past few months have seen more subtle brand refreshes than anything else. This approach helps to create the sense of something different that the consumer desires, without breaking the bank.

What I certainly think we will see more of in 2013 is the use of this approach as an effective, low cost strategy for brands to introduce new product ranges. Limited edition flavours, special range extensions and cross-branding are all great examples of this.

Those that choose this approach will be taking a tried and tested route. We have seen limited editions really take off for Kellogg’s in the form of Rice Krispies Squares, with Rocky Road, Chocolate Honeycomb and Chocolatey Orange flavours all introduced. Likewise Nestlé has introduced Coco and Honey versions of Shreddies into its product portfolio and enjoyed similar success.

Photo: Guinness crisps pack

Perhaps the most lucrative way of utilising a brand refresh is to use it to increase brand exposure in previously untapped sectors. Again, there are examples of where this has been deployed and achieved maximum impact. I am talking about items such as Marmite cashew nuts and Guinness crisps, as well as Tetley Tea moving into the biscuit market. I fully expect to see more well known brands popping up in some unexpected categories as we move through 2013.

Of course, this desire to remain active but spend less presents somewhat of a challenge for design agencies. You are basically being asked to do the same amount of work but on a tighter budget. Brands will be looking for creative partners that are prepared to offer more for their money and I believe agencies will be wise to take a more flexible approach. This is something we have done, and trust me when I say that it is appreciated. This approach can lead to continued loyalty from a brand going forward, which in the current climate, can be most welcome.

2013 is very much about a change of approach for both brands and agencies. It is about exploring new opportunities, being shrewd with budgets and looking for new opportunities for growth, where well known and established brands can be exploited to achieves results.


About the Author

David Rogers is the owner and creative partner of Nottingham-based packaging and brand design consultancy We Are Pure, which works with some major national brands such as Unilever, Trevor Sorbie and Blockbuster and many international/local brands, specifically, in Russia.