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2020’s top 5 packaging copy trends

Packaging copy – that all-important but oft’ ignored unsung hero of packvertising is set to turn over a new leaf as cutie-pie copy dies a slow but much anticipated death.  The floor will be opened to new creative and relevant ways to engage audiences in the decade to come, and with ‘top design trends of 2020’ blogs in full swing, we thought it’s about time homage was paid to the messaging style and tone brands will be using in 2020.

Wacky copy is on it’s way out

And as on-pack copy everywhere starts to sound like a Frankensitinian patchwork of brands doing the exact same thing, consumers are calling out for something new.

When Innocent started the wackaging trend, it was new and different, personable packaging that doesn’t take itself too seriously replaced over-cluttered messaging that was hard to relate to.

But according to judges at the coveted D&AD Advertising Awards’ writing category, wacky copy can go one of two ways and can just as easily make you laugh as roll your eyes. It’s becoming harder to entertain consumers with whimsical words, and brands will need to work harder to create a wacky tone that truly stands out.

Clean and clear

Transparency is one of the most important drivers to purchase across all FMCG categories.  We care about what we put in our bodies, we also care about what we put out in the world. We care about where our goods come from and the carbon footprint they leave behind.

Functional, fit-for-purpose copy that tells it like it is will engage shoppers who want to know what they’re buying and make their decision quickly.

Across every category, shoppers are losing trust in verbose messaging claims and convoluted pack copy. Succinct, clear positioning and direct language will resonate with no-nonsense back-to-basics buyers – as design goes minimal, so will copy.

Toxic-free terms

There has been a lot of talk about moving towards a more inclusive place of communication, as a packaging agency in London, we pay particular attention to the way we communicate, hoping to avoid offending those advocating for ditching gendered language altogether. However where we lose gendered terms ‘she’, ‘hers’, ‘woman’, we risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Brands will need to make a call on what their inclusivity sounds like, and where they stand on the binary-free spectrum.

The copy of 2020 will explore gender neutrality, with some brands opting to adopt gender free terms, while others decide their responsibility lies with those who identify as women or men.

That being said, future copy, while moving towards a more inclusive and responsible way of communicating, will faze out toxic terms which stereotype the behaviour of men or women into overly feminine or overly masculine categories, making room for androgynous wording which can say ‘her’ without referencing specifically how ‘she’ should look, or behave.

We’re in this together

Extinction rebellion has brought activism to our daily lives, commutes and news feeds. The emergence of young activists like Greta Thunberg, and that pensioner who glued her hand to a train carriage (only in London), shows that activism is a ‘trend’ which crosses genders, age groups and social classes. In a bid to attract a growing number of politically active consumers, brands will be adopting active language that resonated with informed and increasingly anti establishment audiences.

Nostalgia

In a world that changes faster than acceptable PC terms and classification for gender orientation, we are increasingly drawn to reminders of the good ‘ole days.

Nostalgia-rich packaging copy that reminds us of ‘proper communication’ with a nod to the sophisticated classes will replace colloquial heavy messaging – simply put, copy your nan would understand is in. And what better time for it to make a comeback than an era where the gap between the oldest and youngest generations is closing and where the silent generation has never been less silent.

‘New nostalgia’ offers authenticity, grounding and a familiar breath of fresh air after the 2019 ‘sumbro’ trend, which is thankfully (hopefully) over.

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Branding and Culture Consumer trends Packaging

Cannabis – why weed better get used to it

Cannabis: formally frowned upon as a demon drug; wacky ‘baccie, The Devil’s lettuce, Beelzebub’s broccoli, once comparable to crack cocaine and amphetamines, is now one of the bestselling items in your local cosmetic store.

We’re not talking about over-the-counter mind-bending psychotics that are going to evoke two hours of frightful forgetfulness, or cravings for chocolate and cheese-based-naughtiness, but more so nourishing CBD infused cosmetics, along with a whole array of cannabis-based edibles.

But all that is set to change…

While CBD (Cannabidiol) is the most prominent and certainly the most widely discussed element of cannabinoid-based products, used as a remedy for anxiety, pain-relief, with anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties, THC, (the psychoactive compound in Cannabis that results in those red eyes and giggle fits) is also beginning to slowly make an appearance.

 

Most CBD products actually contain a tiny percentage of THC, as it’s thought to activate the body’s endocannabinoid system  (yes, our bodies have a “weed” system) and enhance the calming, therapeutic effects of CBD. Don’t worry though, these products definitely won’t get you high, it’s just a smidge to activate the good stuff.

 

Science, hey?!

Cannabinoids – are set to dominate every major industry, and legalisation of cannabis means CBD is only the start.

How cannabinoids will disrupt Beauty and Personal Care:

Cannabis in beauty is nothing new but the CBD revolution has meant that references to hemp have been replaced by ‘superhero ingredient CBD’ with its supposed oil-balancing, anti-oxidising and anti-inflammatory properties.  These days there are more CBD skin-care products than you can shake a bong at, and the potential for beauty and personal care brands will only grow with legalisation.

Euromonitor expects skin-care to be the main driver of Cannabinoid beauty growth as brands operating in the therapeutic and dermocosmetic space will pull together current holistic and health-based beauty trends. Meanwhile  THC beauty products will align trends in neurocosmetics. In layman’s terms, chemicals that are believed to affect the brain in a positive way, such as soluble, digestible, CBD oil will only grow in prominence. Irina Barbalova, Global Lead of Beauty & Personal Care at Euromonitor International suggests that cannabis may well become as ubiquitous as any other mainstream beauty ingredient in the not so distant future. As products continue to develop, the use of CBD will surely be hard to resist by larger companies. Health is becoming intrinsic in every brand’s strategy, cannabis’ remedial and therapeutic properties present an immediate investment opportunity and will become as recognisable as any other active ingredient in these products, in the very near future – good news for every edgy design agency in London!

How Cannabinoids will disrupt Packaged Food:

The standards and expectations of packaged food are in a constant state of evolutionary development, racing to keep up with ever changing societal standards. Hemp first showed its face years ago as a braggadocious, protein affluent superfood in the form of hemp seeds, protein bars, hemp milk and oil. Although deriving from the same raw ingredient, cannabis, the difference here is the missing element of CBD.

Euromonitor International expects global sales of CBD packaged foods to double over the next two years, as consumer awareness grows of the ingredient’s benefits.

Now, food products will not only be marketed on a nutritional level, but also in a way where food will also be sold for specific conditions that CBD can assist in. Here, we will see the market becoming dominated by outcome-based products, where food will also be seen as medicinal, blurring the line between food and consumer health.  Presently, CBD food products are purely sold in the form of confectionary, but as the normalisation of cannabinoids in mainstream food ubiquitously become an active ingredient, cannabis will become prevalent in a whole range of food categories, such as bakery products, pasta, soups and any other savoury goodies you can think of.

Just as vegetarian and vegan brands were barely even conceptual a decade or so ago, plant-based foods have now disrupted the entire packaged food industry – look towards Linda McCartney, VioLife, and all those other delicious, animal-free brands we see on supermarket shelves on a daily basis. Equally, cannabis will play its role in bringing a brand new, medicinally beneficial edge to mindful consumption. Consumers will not only look for food that will boost their body, but also their minds – Who would have thought?

How Cannabinoids will disrupt Drinks:

Alcoholic drinks will need to take a ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ approach if they’re to weather the weed-revolution. But while three major alcoholic drinks producers have successfully jumped on the CBD bandwagon, there has been little research into the effects of mixing THC in alcohol so for now, consumers and brands will have to pick their poison.

As the drinks market moves towards no alcohol or low alcohol, THC provides a good alternative for buzz-seekers, whilst simultaneously retaining the social aspect of “going out for a drink”.

The soft drinks market is also cashing in on cannabinoids – with CBD drinks (literally everywhere, do they work? Who even knows) replacing sugar for a potentially healthier buzz.

With soft and alcoholic drinks fusing into an alternative CBD or THC infused drinks category, an opportunity is created for a ‘good for you’ beverage that capitalises on social drinking, but remains aligned with the wellness, healthy living trend.

In summary…

If we thought the face of cannabis infused FMCG brands has changed, we’ve not seen anything yet. The report outlines how by 2030, the cannabis market will move from quirky artisan brands to big players, from household brand names.

It’s only a matter of time legalisation of cannabis will create a cash-cow opportunity for emerging brands and household names as THC will be come routine ingredient in our daily lives.

The ‘sensorial’ social lubricating properties of cannabinoids will change how we socialise, falling out of a club with a KFC drumstick in one hand and a shot of Jager in the other (what? we’ve never done that) is so 2012, slow-living will only get slower with this chill-inducing ingredient in, well, pretty much everything from coffee, to toiletries, to your evening tipple.