The Millennial Packaging “Wow” Factor
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 2018 issue.
May 24, 2018
by Megan Moffat
Today, accounting for the one of the largest segments of general population by now surpassing the Baby Boomers, the Millennial generation has quickly grown up to expect packaging innovation to be part of their everyday consumer experience—forcing brands to rethink many of their time-tested ideas about package design and consumer engagement. Providing a unique consumer experience is a key part of this new narrative, often with the ironic outcome of celebrating the not-so-recent past to reach out to potential brand loyalists of the future with clever use of modernized retro fonts, color palettes, and portrait illustrations. As a case in point, the 120-gram pack of Epsom Salt Soap from The Grandpa Soap Co. is a masterclass of playful attention to detail to lure with a simple, yet mighty paperbox utilizing embossed font to emphasize the look and feel of this vintage-inspired brand. The eye-catching ‘Proudly Made in America since 1878’ stamp and old-school portrait graphic of the company founder inserted into the logo ooze with genuine product authenticity and purity, with the graduated muted tones of deep blue letter coloring paying due homage to the simpler times, before brands had every color under the sun to splash all over their packaging to get noticed. This intended simplicity is a charming presentation for the all all-purpose bathing essential—ingeniously enhanced with a side panel’s “Simply Scented” slit enticing the consumer to take a whiff of the “hardworking, simple and pure” soap bar. For all that retro pastiche, though, the brand is clearly on top of all the motivational touchpoints that make the Millennial consumers tick, with the soap being made exclusively from palm oil derived from Rainforest Alliance-certified farms, in addition to boasting other certifications designating it as a gluten-free, environmentally responsible, cruelty-free product, with recyclable packaging to boot!
Like most consumers in most demographics, Millennials want to support a brand that also supports their core values and strikes a personal chord with them. As someone who is trying to be more conscious of sustainable packaging, I recently discovered the Charity Pot Body Lotion from LUSH, where the product comes in an unassuming black matte container made from 100-percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles and pots. Moreover, LUSH goes the extra mile by explicitly encouraging consumers to return these little pots to reduce waste: return five containers and get a free facemask. It’s a wonderful little incentive to reward the consumer on both a personal and conscientious level, with the company earmarking 100-percent of each Charity Pot sale to be directed to a worthwhile community cause or charity as selected by the consumers from an expansive list of worthwhile beneficiaries. In my case, the Ecologos Environmental Organization got my nod of approval for their tireless work in protecting our fresh water sources. Keeping your skin silky smooth while helping out the environment, threatened animal species and disadvantaged people is in many ways a dream come true for the modern generation of consumers.
With social media now being such an integral part of everyday communication, connecting and engaging with consumers has become a much more level playing field for smaller companies relying on positive word-of-mouth to grow their market share. With trendy flavors and low-sugar recipes, trying to connect and engage with consumers is now even more convenient in the digital age of branding. Trendy and low in sugar, California-based Halo Top Creamery is quickly becoming a top player in the North American ice-cream business with its remarkable social media savvy—yours truly becoming a fan after reading more than a few positive Instagram posts and online product reviews raving about the new guilt-free sweet indulgence. This techie spirit is well-served by the brand’s unique package design that creates its own spotlight in the supermarket’s freezer section with a subtle gold lid topping innovative flavor varieties such as Pancakes & Waffles, for example. Patterned after the nooks of a waffle being slathered in sticky maple syrup, the tantalizing graphic design—topped off with Halo Top’s signature logo depicting a melting scoop of ice cream—is pure packaging eye-candy for younger shoppers looking for something different. Removing the lid reveals a gold-foil tamper-proof seal featuring one of several clever puns spread out over the ice cream line, such as, “I’m Cold Let’s Spoon,” along with the brand’s hashtag #halotop encouraging further consumer feedback on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
As a refreshing countertrend to complicated graphics, some brands are cleverly using simple child-like illustrations in their package design to give consumers comforting reassurance about their purity of intent and purpose. Based in Oakville, Ont., popular local craftbrewer Cameron’s Brewing gracefully leverages seemingly simple, yet nuanced multilayered designs for the cans of its Ambear Red Ale and Cosmic Cream Ale to project the image of artisanal craftsmanship and quality, while letting each beer tell its own unique story with depictions of a wandering black bear against a mountainous backdrop, or that of silhouetted Canadian pine trees reaching up to the twinkling stars dancing in the dark night sky above. With informative liner notes on the sides of the can providing a good insight on each beer’s origins and inspiration, and a crisp-and-sharp brand logo being an instant eye-catcher, the attractive beer cans deftly capture the essence of life’s simpler pleasures to be joyfully discovered in our Great White North.
Megan Moffat is a proudly Millennial freelance writer living in Toronto.