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10 Trends of Packaging Design in the Indian Food Industry

Updated: Jan 7, 2022

By: Vrishali Kekre Deshmukh

Packaging Design in India

Until very recently, Indian packaging design was split into 2 diverse camps; the ultra-evolved marketing teams that wanted to get it right, versus the ‘packaging is just the container to deliver my product’ guys. This gap, however, is now getting closer, thanks to two primary forces:

  • With the reduced influence of mass media on buyers and social media growing from strength to strength, marketing is no longer the privilege of companies with deep pockets.

  • Gen-Z is giving new players and established brands similar (if not equal) opportunities to succeed with their “try-new-things” attitude.

Packaging design has never been more critical than now, what with such fierce competition on the shelf and in the buyers’ mind-space! Therefore Design has a round-up of 10 significant trends for packaging design this year.

  • More is Less: Brands are now looking at moving away from the excessive clutter of elements on the pack and reducing the burst of colours that dominated the FMCG industry all these years.

  • Not Jack-of-All, Master of None: Historically, marketers have tried to cram in all the benefits and claims, on the pack. Stemming from this trend and in order to cut the confusion in the first few seconds of buying decisions, brands are now spending quite some time to carve out a niche. And, then boldly calling out that one strength only on the product!

  • Age Agnostic: Profiling the target audience by age, geography or income is now becoming less critical. We see 60-year-olds with an attitude of a 25 and a 30-year-old, going Zen and giving up all material desires. A product being targeted to a particular age bracket does not mean anything anymore. ‘Health conscious’ can apply to a 14-year-old or a 45-year-old. The spending appetite of a fresher earning 25K per month, on something they believe in versus the spends of a seasoned earner with 24 Lakh per annum earning could, in fact, be the same. Brands therefore now need to profile the persona of their core buyer by their personality traits, attitude and life stage.

  • Colour me Bold: Owning only a single colour has become passé. Brands that spend years building a connect with colour are experimenting with changing the pallet or adding another dominant colour to bring variety, be it a vibrant patch or a pastel hue or even just plain white.

  • I Am What I Am: Having convoluted brand names are proving to be more and more risqué nowadays, with people having less time to analyze and think. Products are now seeing value in calling a spade a spade while compromising on being unique. In the world of complex products on the shelf, to clearly know what one is buying has lessened the buyer’s burden. Buyers recognize the trend of fancy names being used to camouflage ugly truths about product composition. The clarity in messaging also helps in strengthening the believability of the products’ promises. A truthful brand is always loved!

  • Shape Up: With the graphics on the packs becoming homogeneous in more ways than one, brands are looking at shapes and material to differentiate themselves from others. Technology is making it possible to experiment with new and improved materials. While these new materials might not be priced equally as their traditional counterparts, they are still as competitive. Brands are willing to loosen their purse strings for the benefit of being unique, and hence memorable. Unique shapes in traditional materials are heavily explored routes for product differentiation on the shelf.

  • Ultra-matte or Uber Metallic: While material explorations are still catching up, a low hanging fruit of finishes is gaining traction. Brands are embracing matte finishes like never before. Historically, a glossy finish was preferred on the pack since it elicits the food imagery in all its glory. But with many packs boldly doing away with excessively large product shot on the pack, and the evolved taste of consumers, matte finish has now become popular. Alternately, an uber metallic look is also becoming popular with brands who are comfortable in their skin and have the confidence of not being confused as garish. A combination of matte with a spot UV finish is one way to get the best of both worlds.

  • HD Imagery: It is hard to say if the technology is following trends or are trends being driven by what technology makes possible. But, with photography bringing immense clarity in high definition, food packaging seems to be making way for HD imagery on the pack, which in turn multiplies the drool value of the product multifold.

  • Styling Innovation: Instagram has turned each one of us into a photo-blogger. With easy tutorials and better cameras (even on mobile-phones) for shooting the best pictures, to experimental chefs wanting to flaunt their creations, impressive styling and experimental photography are now accessible to many. With this improved visual vocabulary of the masses, brands are forced to invest in professional styling that showcases their product in all its glory, making it the hero while supporting it with just the right props. Extra attention is being paid to the ‘mood’ of the shot, with the hope of evoking the right emotions in the viewer that connect to the product promise and push sales.

  • Back of Pack is Not to be Taken Lightly: This is a strong trend which has only gotten stronger in the past few years and seems like is here to stay for long. The informed buyer is now flipping the pack over, to dive deeper into what they are buying. This is happening more than ever before and products that do not engage the buyer thoughtfully, stand to lose a lot. With food norms and regulations becoming stringent over the last few years, only mandatory information is provided. But, buyers what to know “what-else” and build an immediate bond when the back-of-pack content speaks their language and brings delight. Be it a recipe, a story or simply a joke!

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