Part I: Packaging Consumer Shifts and Trends

By Lata Sankaran


The aftermath of a pandemic has been instrumental in shapeshifting consumer behavior patterns as well as creating adverse disruptions across sectors. The resurgence of previous trends, as well as an altered consumer perspective towards purchase and consumption in a post — COVID world, are redefining and reshaping new trends.

At Elephant Design, we present the Packaging | Consumer Shifts & Trends white paper identifying three key macro trends and the consumer shifts that are shaping the changes within the packaging industry and highlight a few examples of design manifestation of the same amidst this continuum of change. Brands continue to cater to the ever-changing landscape of customer expectations and define the ‘new normality’ of customer experience.

Viewing this on-going transformation and recalibration from a strategic lens, we present a few case studies from the repertoire of Elephant Design that has delivered solutions in the past adapting to these underlying patterns of consumer behavior.

One key behavioral transformation of the pandemic has been the acceleration in digital consumption in an already networked society. ‘Online anything’ phenomena has taken precedence creating the habit shift to virtual interactions with brands in the absence of a strong in-store engagement.

Additionally, daily life context in a post-pandemic world has transformed into prolonged ‘lock-downs’ and ‘work from home’/’study from home’ scenarios. ‘in-person’ brand experiences have thus become the most significant value add than ever before.

With heightened fear and anxiety around hygiene, health, and wellness, brands are constantly adapting their product packaging, designs, and material choices accounting for these value-shifts.

Positioning with these contextual scenarios, we identified three key packaging trends that form the focus of our blog series.

Part I: Thinking Inside the Box

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The last mile in the customer journey has become one of the most crucial touch-point in a post-pandemic world. Unboxing rituals are no longer restricted to special occasions and premium buying.

It has resurged and regained prominence at a time where consumers are interacting with brands in the confinement of their homes amidst restrictive retail shopping habits.

As the demand for online purchase increases, we ask the key question: How has un-boxing has become key in creating impactful experiences to drive long term product engagement?

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One particular trend is to infuse the feeling of ‘delight’ within the unboxing experience. Online shopping decisions are generally triggered by instincts and emotions. Brands are able to create an enriching customer experience when they play on consumer curiosity and heighten their excitement levels.

Customization and personalization in the package transform the unboxing experience from a mere product reveal to a moment to be cherished.

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Packaging also has immense potential when it comes to branding opportunities and disseminating value-based content to the consumer.

Given the lack of opportunity in seeing, feeling, or holding the product before buying, there is a heightened role of packaging in conveying the brand narrative. Visual stimuli aids are often utilized to expand the brand narrative from a mere product to an immersive retail experience.

To illustrate this, we examine the packaging design we created for Hershey’s Kisses, where the brand came up with the task of introducing a premium range of gift packaging. This would help them distinguish themselves on the retail shelf and more significantly drive customer engagement and drive purchase.

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The product itself is geared for the premium segment of chocolate lovers in India, so the experience was altogether more important. Elephant recognizing Unboxing to be the most important touchpoint between the brand and the customer. Keeping the changing context of gifting chocolates among urban Indian customers, our design expressions on the pack emphasized the celebration of shared moments as a metaphor for long-lasting engagement.

Fortune cookies are excellent examples of personalized content being delivered at the right touchpoints — which we drew upon. The pack now opens to a personalized message, delighting customers on two levels; that of discovery, replete with fond memories of the same, and of the pure indulgence that comes with high-quality chocolate.