Canadian Packaging

How packaging really matters to the millennial generation

A monthly look at some of the hits and misses in the packaging world from the viewpoint of Joe Public, Canadian Packaging magazine’s revolving columnists. From the May 2017 issue.

May 22, 2017   Canadian Packaging

One can’t help but be amazed at all the intense marketing efforts, time and money being spent by major brands today in a holy quest to win over the highly sought-after millennial generation, whose views on packaging may be vastly different from when I was in their age bracket. In fact, I sometimes wondered whether they even thought about packaging at all when buying their products.

To find out, I turned to our family’s resident millennial, Sawyer Lewis, whose passion for reading and a natural knack for writing is more advanced than any other 13-year-old I have encountered in my lifetime. I think you’ll agree that her unique take on millennial-targeted packaging below— spread over the next three mini-critiques—are well worth a read, a little family bias and cheerleading notwithstanding.

Packed with dozens of vitamins, minerals and nutrients, kale is truly a superfood that has taken the world by storm. Nowadays commonly added to salads, smoothies and even dehydrated into chips, kale can give the good old potato a run for its money among today’s health-conscious young foodies—especially with products like the Ultimate Kale Chips Pink Salt from Solar Raw Foods. Boasting a charming sketch of a kale chip peeling back the package to reveal the treat inside with a see-through window cutout, the 100-gram resealable stand-up pouch is definitely a treat for the eyes with its bold pink colors, fun fonts and, of course, an appetizing view of the perfectly-shaped kale chips inside. Blended with pink Himalayan salt and creamy cashews to provide a wholesome treat for both vegans and meat-eaters, this delicious snack ticks all the right boxes for being organic, raw, vegan, gluten-free and, above all, made in Canada. What’s not to love, eh?

As the list of endangered species seems to be growing longer with each passing day, it’s comforting to know that there are companies trying to do their part to help reverse this sad decline of our precious biodiversity. Based in Indianapolis, Ind., Endangered Species Chocolate deserves plenty of kudos not only for the lovely packaging of its delicious bars of fruit-infused dark chocolate—boasting emphatic images of our more vulnerable furry friends—but also for the explicit on-pack pledge to donate 10 per cent of all net sales of the product to worthy conservation causes and organizations working to help protect wildlife.


Sporting all the proper eco-label certifications for being vegan, gluten-free, fair trade, and non-GMO, the rich, dark-brown background and majestic red ribbons framing a bear’s photograph on the Dark Chocolate with Raspberries bar wrapper combine to create a wonderful feel-good package befitting the sweet, smooth, dark chocolate, laced with fresh raspberry chunks throughout, inside the eye-candy packaging.

Sometimes it can be upsetting to think about the people behind a product originating overseas, but simply shutting your ears to the stark deficit of fairness in global wealth distribution isn’t the solution. While it’s hard for today’s consumers in wealthy western countries like Canada to help balance the scales in isolation, making a conscious choice to address the problem through an ethical purchasing decision is somewhat easier these days thanks to companies like Level Ground Trading and its Tulsi brand of Direct Fair Trade-certified loose leaf tea. Sourced at the base of the Himalayan Mountains and packed inside simple earth-brown, f lat-bottom, triangular paperbags featuring black-and-white photographs of the company’s real-life workers, this ‘smooth and soothing’ tea really pulls at all the right heartstrings without over-preaching the product’s goodwill message. The back of the bag relates a touching story of the company’s origins and its help in providing water filters to the local schools in India, and a small key-shaped tag on the top of the package makes it functionally resealable, while keeping it all naturally simple and real.

Impressed by Sawyer’s observations, I asked her to find a tasty meat-free barbeque alternative that the whole family could enjoy during the upcoming BBQ season. Not surprisingly, her selection of the Portobello Mushroom Burgers from Sol Cuisine turned out to be a highly inspired choice—easily passing every family member’s exacting taste test. Ditto for the packaging, which clearly displays all the vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO product attributes we were looking for, along with a Celiac Support Association’s certification logo and a refreshingly clean ingredient list. The tidy 284-gram paperbox contains four individually shrinkwrapped mushroom patties, which are grouped in two-patty servings to facilitate effective portion-control discipline and to prevent freezer burn for any remaining leftovers in between the summer family barbecues.

If I learned anything from Sawyer’s contribution to this article, it’s that today’s food-and-beverage companies will continue to be held to ever-higher standards by the fast-growing millennial generation well into the future. Not only will they have to invent exciting new ways to show the world what they can bring to the table, they will also be tasked to explain how they made their product, who helped them make it, what makes it good for the consumers and, ideally, how is it good for the environment. With packaging being the main communication vehicle to get those points across, you can be sure that millennial-friendly packaging is here to stay for a while.

Freelance writer Sarah Harper (left) and her stepdaughter Sawyer Lewis both live in Kingston, Ont.

Image at top of article purchased via


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