Packaging Trend: Design for Social Media Sharing
For Brooklyn-based ice cream maker Van Leeuwen, achieving a 50 percent increase in sales over the past several months was all about its packaging's appearance. But it wasn't just about looking good on the shelf—according to a recent article in Quartz, the small sweet shop deliberately redesigned its packaging (and ice cream trucks) to look good on social media. Consumers reportedly have shown support for the redesign by excitedly sharing the packaging on Instagram with comments indicating their purchasing decision was prompted by the new packaging. With social media increasingly influencing consumer decisions, shareable packaging appears poised to become a growing packaging trend.
According to Quartz, the design firm Pentagram was behind the simplistic redesign. Van Leeuwen wanted its packaging to be "very Instagrammable," so when Pentagram partner Natasha Jen was brought in, she advised the company to "reduce their brand elements to colors and hip typography," Quartz wrote. The decision to keep the large logo on a plain background was to make the pints stand out on the shelf.
Jen went on to explain to Quartz that the design team focused on choosing the perfect color for each flavor:
"We thought the best way to express flavor and create a kind of deliciousness and increase people’s appetite is through these pastel colors,” Jen explains.
But pairing the right color with the right flavor wasn't an easy process. From Quartz:
Because Van Leeuwen doesn’t use food coloring, it wasn’t a matter of simply matching the color of the ice cream to the outer package. Sampling every flavor and looking at color swatches, the team debated weighty matters like, Is earl gray blue? Is vanilla yellow?
Although it may be a new way of thinking for brands and converters, packaging should be designed to target the digital age. packagePRINTING reached out to Ron Sasine—principal at Hudson Windsor, a retail packaging consulting firm, and former senior director of packaging at Walmart—who explained the importance of brands interacting with consumers in both the "physical and virtual" realm. Sasine wrote in an email:
Today’s consumers are not just using social media to connect, they are shopping socially and influencing socially on multiple platforms. Brands that create instantly identifiable packaging that registers with consumers in the seconds it takes to read a tweet or like a post will be recognized more rapidly at point of sale, driving additional consumer trials and potential repurchase. Well-designed packaging can be an important brand identifier that resonates with both consumers and influencers.
The role social media has taken on in the purchasing decisions of a more connected society appears to be expanding. In 2016, CNBC reported that more consumers are buying products based on what they see on Instagram. CNBC goes on to quote Liz Dunn, founder & CEO of Talmage Advisors:
Consumers trust the opinions of those in their social media group, including friends, bloggers and celebrities, more than messages they are getting directly from brands.
Could This Be a 2017 Packaging Trend?
One example does not constitute a "packaging trend," so Quartz points out other examples of brands that used eye-catching packaging and social media-loving patrons as conduits for spreading awareness and bringing in business. One example in particular is a bakery, Maman. Quartz writes:
When the French bakeshop Maman first opened, they gained renown not for their delicious nutty chocolate chip cookies, but for the patterned blue-and-white coffee cups. Co-owner Elisa Marshall says they attract 80 percent of new customers from Instagram.
That's nothing to balk at, 80 percent is a significant amount of traffic coming from customer sharing.
If you want to see the Van Leeuwen packaging in action, here is a cool video that Pentagram posted: