Blog Post

Sourceful's Top Packaging Trends 2024: Part III (Design)

Customer Experience
Packaging Design

In our last two blogs, we covered our top packaging trends for this year covering sustainability and technology. If you haven’t read them, we recommend starting there.

Read Part I (Sustainability)

Read Part II (Technology)

In this last installment, we’re diving into our final packaging trend predictions. This time: design.

1. Big & Bold

Vibrant colours, oversized fonts and extra-large graphics. A packaging trend trio that we’re seeing on everything from mailer boxes to recycled mailer bags.

And when you dive into it, it’s not surprising. As consumers continue to prefer shopping online after the pandemic, brands are using their packaging to stand out on the digital shelf, whilst still having a presence in physical retail. If this seems easy — think again. Making a splash in the saturated grid of Instagram or TikTok demands big and bold. As brands ramp up their boldness, others follow in a bid to beat them. The result is an upward spiral of colour chaos and adventurous fonts. Who knows when the spiral will stop.  

Our take: big and bold can be a good approach, but always lead with your brand. If you’re a luxury brand, for example, throwing more colour at the packaging wall may feel out of place.

Packaging on trend: Giant Bar, Oatier, Mistercap, Dept. Sushi, Purlom, Surreal

2. Off the beat

Whilst many brands are trying to beat the bold rush, others are going against the grain and opting for a quieter but quirkier look. Think sketchy illustrations, witty copy, elegant serifs, blocky sans-serifs and muted colours that make you feel at home or on holiday instead of at the circus.

And it’s appearing on every type of packaging, from stickers and cans to bottles and shipping boxes. As to the reason behind this packaging trend, we think there are two. First is a reaction to the maximalist mayhem above. If everyone is going big and bold, do the opposite. Second, and maybe more importantly, is simply that people want to feel like a human is at the other end. Especially in an increasingly virtual world, people are looking for the mark of another real person in the products they buy. And that means their packaging too.    

Our take:  like our take on big and bold packaging, your design should always start with your brand. Whilst trends are trends for a reason, if it isn’t aligned with your brand it could end in disaster. Consider carefully.

Packaging on trend: Stokey’s, Le Rub, Ami Ami

3. Accessibility

Accessibility is always a hot topic, but it’s appearing in packaging more and more — and this year it will be bigger than ever.

By accessibility, we mean making your packaging universally easy to use (e.g. open and lift). This can involve catering for disabilities, like adding braille for those with impaired vision. Or it can involve adding handles to a shipping box to make it easier for older customers to carry your product. Some of this is already common, like braille on pharmaceutical packaging, but it’s also steadily making its way onto consumer packaging. And with the rise of disability influencers on platforms like TikTok, the accessibility of your packaging has never been more in the limelight. Not considering it this year could lead to alienated fans and a damaged brand reputation. Accessibility is always a good thing. Get on board.

Our take: it’s easy to think accessibility doesn’t apply to your brand. After all, many disabilities remain (unfairly) unseen. But 1 in 4 people in the UK have some kind of disability, which means it’s likely some of your customers will. Always consider them.

Packaging on trend: Dove, Kellogg’s, Only For Your Eyes

4. (Un)boxing is back

Ever since unboxing videos went viral in the mid-00s, the unboxing experience has been the golden ticket to packaging fame.

Now, the unboxing experience isn’t new. But we think the love of the experience has been rekindled, enough to firmly make it into this year’s packaging trend report. Some of this is due to brands double-downing on experience as a way to set themselves apart in saturated markets. But some of it, we think, is down to a few recent micro-trends. More specifically: packing videos. Which, as it sounds, is the exact opposite of unboxing videos; videos of brands and fulfilment teams packing orders from start to finish. They’re so popular that the hashtag most related to the viral trend, #packingorders, has more than 9 billion views — on TikTok alone.

Whilst they’re completely different from the classic unboxing video, they’re showing off the same interactions, components and materials — only in reverse. It’s these types of trends that are creating a new wave of visibility on the overall packaging experience. In short: how your packaging moves, feels and sounds is back, and it’ll be bigger than ever this year.

Our take: the unboxing experience has always been important, but this is the year to beat the competition. We’d recommend working with a supplier that offers both structural design work and artwork design. That’s where the magic happens.

Packaging on trend: ZOE, The Boundary, HeyBetter, Wild

Want to stay in the design loop? Follow our Business Executive Rachel Kevern

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