Less is more

By Chiara Covone, director of innovation at DS Smith

According to Mintel’s Global Packaging Trends 2018, brands are increasingly rejecting packaging designs that are covered with information and opting instead for a more minimalist approach. Though modern shoppers are more informed than ever, they don’t want to be overwhelmed with details as this can leave them confused or suspicious.

Bizarrely, the more information on a package, the more shoppers question the authenticity and transparency of a brand. Indeed research shows that 39 per cent of French consumers feel that excessive information on food and drink packaging can make it hard to trust a brand.

If shoppers are weary, bombarded by messages and time poor, the emotional reaction that a package triggers at the point of sale is critical. If they struggle to process all the information, they may just move on.

According to Pamela Webber in Packaging Design, “Over-cluttered design is becoming a thing of the past, especially as we start to see a broader adoption of minimalism across design categories. In the coming years, we expect to see even the most classic “old school” CPG brands update their packaging to adopt a more modern, minimalistic style. As more consumers expect product packaging to convey the necessary information instantly, brands have started to adapt. As a result, only the most relevant information about the product plays a dominant role in the packaging composition, with a more careful use of white space and colours.”

Walk the line

At the other end of the spectrum, if brands remove all information from a package, this might also become a barrier to purchasing. Finding the right balance of just enough information is essential for consumers to make an enlightened and confident purchasing decision.

In Summer 2017, the trend towards minimalism was taken a step further by two American entrepreneurs. They set up Brandless, an online grocery store with big ambitions. Selling everything for $3 and hoping to take over a significant portion of the e-retail business in the US, Brandless is disrupting the market with its bold approach. It aims to cut out the branding but retain the quality whilst lowering the price. Many of its products are fair trade and organic, but thanks to its no-frills packaging, they remain inexpensive.

This, argues psychologist Ryan Howell, is a trend to watch. In his article, Less Is More: The Power of Simple Language for Psychology Today, Ryan writes: “Less really is more.” Why? Because, “the clearer the messaging, the easier it is for the consumer to make the decision”.

At the heart of DS Smith

The Power of Less is one of DS Smith’s core values and something we have long treasured. It pans out across our business model – in terms of less waste and more recycling; less raw material; less cost, less complexity and greater efficiency. It also applies to packaging design.

At our Impact Centres, we aim to remove complexity from packaging design and create solutions that are high quality, visually impactful, simple to assemble and use and that offer optimal performance in the supply chain. We want every design that leaves our workshops to deliver results for our clients and enable frustration-free shopping for their customers.

This year, we believe we will see more minimalist designs and clean label packaging, and hope they will provide a moment of calm and clarity for shoppers in our increasingly hectic retail environments.