Apr 18, 2017 | Posted by Paul Graham

Packaging trends for the overwhelmed consumer

According to scientists, the age of smartphones has left today’s consumer with an increasingly short attention span and a heightened sense of being overwhelmed by information.

Is it any wonder then that when trying to compete for shelf presence, the ‘louder’ a packaging design, the smaller the chance the product will catch the consumer’s eye.

As consumers we want choice and convenience, we want clarity and meaning, we want more functionality wrapped up in simplicity. We won’t accept less if it is bland or more if it is excessive or confusing.

Enter essentialism, an emerging approach to design that is focused on creating clarity of message whilst delivering unique and memorable experiences.


By the way essentialism is not another term for minimalism. The difference? Grant Wenzlau from thedieline says “There is a richness to essentialism that differentiates it from the philosophy of minimalism, which often comes off as stark and cold. Essentialism focuses on clarity of message and on creating an emotional state in the viewer that is fulfilled and satisfied. Happiness is an essential element.”

Let’s take a look at some inspiring essentialist packaging examples.

#1 Tylenol

Tylenol instantly understand the mindset of the customer and alleviate their pain of stumbling down pharmacy aisles to find the right product by calling out each product’s best use. Clear and compelling though certainly not stark and cold.

#2 Trident

Trident chooses minimal graphics over words to cleverly convey the product and it’s relevance as a sugar free gum - to protect teeth and gums and give you a brighter, whiter smile. I’m still smiling at this one...

#3 William Whistle Tea & Coffee

William Whistle Tea & Coffee offer a well-developed brand story and personality that shines through consistently across all products and packs to create a unique sense of brand, playfulness and relevance.

#4 Basic Products

‘Un-choose - go with straightforward’ is Basic Product’s straightforward message to consumers, encouraging them to choose brands/products in favour of simplicity and honesty. A product that does what it says it does and packaging that appeals to overwhelmed customers.

#5 Frolic

Another brand that's telling it like it is. Simple, uncomplicated, transparent, Frolic’s range of peanut butter jars are everything you need them to be. Using bold typography and 2-colour palette to communicate the essentials in crowded food aisles... I’m sold.

#6 Bite Bars

Uncomplicated packaging for an honestly healthy product, reinforced through the tagline ‘& that’s all’. Bright, single colour illustrations encase and draw attention to the brand logo whilst offering a visual guide to flavour. Brown, natural-looking packaging design in Sydney is supported by a minimal list of ingredients. Deliciously simple.

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Paul Graham
Paul Graham

As a results-oriented, client-focused professional, Paul has 20 years' international experience helping businesses increase their profitability through strategic marketing and digital campaigns. Working within full-service creative and digital agencies in both the UK and Australia, Paul has planned, managed and executed numerous strategic marketing and digital campaigns that increase sales for small to ASX listed businesses.