Consumer taste is ever changing, driven by everything from public events to food scandals. Packaging designers go to great lengths to anticipate consumer demands, with the help of colour consultancies such as Global Color Research.
We learn about the key packaging trends for 2015 from Laura Perryman, Global Color Research's director of creative projects and fabric and materials editor of the company's publications, Mix Trends and Mix magazine. Perryman spoke about the trends at the Packaging Innovations show in October.
In the first of four features, Perryman explains The Fundamentals trend, which is about the use of natural materials in innovative ways, and is ideal for luxury packaging.
The Fundamentals is based an increasing desire amongst consumers for strong relationships with their belongings and environments, which Perryman believes will result in demand for quality packaging that uses natural materials and colours. "Materials that imbue warmth, honesty and longevity to spatial design are increasingly desired," she explains.
Perryman thinks this will translate into subtle, authentic-feeling luxury packaging that has a strong focus on detail. In particular, she believes this will be ideal for perfume and bespoke products. "It could be anything from gifts to jewellery," she says.
A new luxury: recycling raw and authentic packaging
While this trend focuses on luxury, it is a new more refined form of luxury than we have previously seen. "It's something different from the luxury market in the past five to ten years, where everything was very ornamental," explains Perryman, citing previous trends for bling and very ostentatious luxury. "Now it's bringing it back to something that's a bit more raw and authentic."
Gone are the bright colours and glitzy finishes, replaced by packaging that consumers will want to keep and use long after they have opened the product. "If something is packaged in something well-made, it can be used for other things; it can be kept," says Perryman. This enables consumers to build up a much stronger relationship with the packaging, and resultantly with the brand.
She believes consumers will respond to raw, honest materials and a sense of imperfection that makes packaging feel special and unique. "We felt like this is something that is really coming through in the packaging industry at the moment, this idea of imperfection, and that's really important for luxury," says Perryman.
Detail is key: using subtlety and authenticity to create memorable products
Central to this trend is a strong focus on detail, which Perryman believes creates a sense of subtlety and authenticity that is vital to appealing to luxury consumers. She sees this being achieved through careful combinations of materials that have been finished to a very high standard. "It's kind of this idea of a carefully curated set of materials, and actually it's the execution that makes it something different," Perryman explains.
In researching this trend, Perryman and her colleagues at Global Color Research looked at how raw and organic materials had been combined to create a strong aesthetic. "We looked at some refined details and different executions of materials, so you had things like organics next to cord ties, next to beautifully executed wooden handles that had inherent colouring to them, and then next to matte papers," says Perryman.
The use of raw materials is particularly key here, and Perryman suggests that integrating real wood or using copper as a trim could be very effective. Slate is also a key inspiration for this trend, which could translate into the use of embossed, tactile, raw or matte cards and papers.
Power of honesty: informing consumers of product origins
Honesty and authenticity are important to this trend, which Perryman believes is because of a rise in consumer demand for information about product origin. "Consumers are getting a lot more savvy about where things are made," she says. "They want to know where materials are sourced, what the process is."
This encourages a desire for packaging that is kept and used rather than thrown in the bin, but it also means that companies need to do more to make consumers aware of the origin of their packaging and products.
"There are lots of luxury brands that are putting the storytelling element of their product - how it's made, who it's made by - out there," Perryman says. "I think that is really important with everything now, especially with the high-end luxury market."
Mainstream focus: different materials could push the trend forward
While this is a trend that is primarily for the luxury market, Perryman believes it can also work well for more mainstream packaging. "I think that this honesty with materials and the beauty of those materials is definitely something that can be translated even to a much more commercial level," she says.
In particular, she thinks embossing could be a key way that this translates. "The natural imperfections and the wood textures could be made into a single embossing that is not too costly," she explains.
Perryman also believes that a change of materials could an effective way for mainstream packaging to capitalise on this trend. "So it's not a shiny surface, it's a paper or a matte finish that maybe has a slightly more raw texture to it," says Perryman. "I think on a simple commercial level that could translate."
This trend is based on Belong, from Mix Trends issue 28, Spring Summer 2015. For more information on colour and materials trends or Mix Trends go to www.globalcolor.co.uk