4 Custom Product Packaging Trends for 2021

4 Custom Product Packaging Trends for 2021

4 Custom Product Packaging Trends for 2021

Creating excellent product packaging requires extensive thought. You must represent multiple ideas with your design: the product itself, your company and core values, and aspects of the market you’re trying to reach, just to name a few.

Sometimes everything lines up, but more often than not, the visual representation of so many different elements can get convoluted. This is why many businesses fail to create truly impactful product packaging that stands out against the competition but remains true to the brand.

We’re going to assume that you already have a good base of knowledge on effective product packaging design. If not, you might want to check out our article on creating a connection with retail packaging design first.

Why Does Staying on Top of Market Trends Matter?

Let me start with the disclaimer that just because something is trending, you do not need to implement it into your marketing plan. That said, it is a great idea to keep an eye on trends—especially in your industry—to see what the competition is doing and how the market reacts. This way, you can adjust the way you market your product accordingly if and when it’s necessary to do so.

Today, we’re not going to get into the minutia of product packaging design trends for specific industries. Rather, we’re going to look at a few overarching trends that we observed throughout 2020 that should be considered for marketing your products in 2021.

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Sustainable Products Are Sensational

It’s gotten to a point where sustainable packaging is expected from brands. Most millenials people belonging to Gens X and Z will pay more for sustainable products.[1] Generation Z (people born after 1997) rate ethics, business, and manufacturing as one of their most significant purchasing considerations.

Consumers pay attention to what products are made from. They want eco-friendly materials used to manufacture the items they use. Packaging is under even more scrutiny, as single-use plastics are seen as a repeat offender for trash that ends up in landfills and seas. So, if today’s generations want their products to be environmentally friendly, the packages they come in MUST be. It’s no longer an option. Suppose your product is not using sustainable packaging and is sitting next to one that is. In that case, people will essentially boycott your goods and purchase the one they feel does less environmental harm—even if they have to pay significantly more.

The good news for you is: not only do your efforts to market your products with sustainable packaging help the environment—reduce, reuse, recycle—but this type of packaging can actually be more affordable in some cases. With modern technology, more facilities, and higher demand, recycled plastics are now often cheaper than new plastic.

Recycle-Ready Designs

Continuing on the sustainability theme, there is an increasing demand for recyclable packaging. Yes, you want to be able to show the world that you use recycled materials and/or low-impact or biodegradable packaging, but recyclability is trending in a big way.

What does this mean for product packaging trends in 2021? To start, it means more paperboard and less plastic. Even though we can recycle plastic and, as businesspeople, make our retail boxes and packages out of recycled plastics, people tend to recycle paper-based packaging at a higher rate.

Ecoenclose put out an article showing paper to be much more likely to be recycled or properly disposed of than plastic, and much more so than bio-plastic.[2] Science Daily also found that only 25% of waste was recycled in the USA in 2015 and just 13% globally. However, a 2020 study shows that Europeans recycled roughly 80% of paper waste. Still, they only properly dispose of roughly 40% of plastic packaging. In the United States, that number was just 28%. Glass isn’t typically thought of as wasteful, but its carbon footprint is six times higher than paper.

This is why companies like Coca Cola and Johnny Walker—notorious for glass bottle production—are working on paper bottle designs.

Luxurious Minimalism is Still In

Minimalism is an ongoing trend that we don’t see disappearing in 2021. I like to use website design as a comparison for this one. I’m sure you’ve visited a site where there is too much going on. The navigation gets confusing because there are too many things you can click, and you can’t determine the most important thing on the page because it’s heavy with images, colors, and text.

On the other hand, a crisp, clean website designed with a single objective for each page provides a much better user experience with higher conversion rates.

This 2021 packaging trends tip goes back to what we mentioned at the beginning of this article: there needs to be a balance in your package design. Many aspects need to be represented, but it’s easy to go overboard. A classic, minimalistic approach is a great way to ensure a timeless, memorable design that won’t distract your consumers from what’s most important: your killer product and company.


Flat is Back

Storytelling is still a significant part of marketing. In fact, some experts believe that it’s never been more important than it is today.

Bold, flat artwork allows you to tell your story without overcomplicating things. Clean blocks of color and text are a fantastic way to stand out while keeping it simple. Not only is flat art easily recognizable and processed by the brain as something we see everyday—icons on websites and social media channels, for example—but it works well with funky, abstract designs and classical minimalist art, making it especially versatile. With this in mind, you can use flat art to inject your brand personality fully onto your packaging with a minimalist style.


If you have any questions about 2021 packaging trends for your brand’s vertical, please feel free to reach out to us today. We’re more than happy to help you out.

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[1] "Consumers Willing To Pay Up For Sustainability | SGB Media ...." 23 Apr. 2019, https://sgbonline.com/consumers-willing-to-pay-up-for-sustainability/. Accessed 20 Dec. 2020.

[2] "Paper versus Plastic (and Bio-Plastic) - EcoEnclose." https://www.ecoenclose.com/Paper-versus-Plastic-and-Bio-Plastic-/. Accessed 20 Dec. 2020.