Beverage Packaging Design: Trends & Examples
Beverage packaging design is vital across many aspects of the industry. These include manufacturing, logistics, selling, advertising and customer experience. The design doesn't just need to contain and protect the beverage and transport, dispense, store, identify and differentiate it from rivals. Packaging can also dramatically affect product visibility and consumer appeal, so it's essential to a successful beverage brand.
Beverage packaging design is crucial as this is often consumers' first point of contact with a product – critical to getting their attention in the first place.
A well-designed package can reflect a brand's values and personality, evoke emotions, forge personal connections with consumers, or even all three – whether that's through vibrant colours suggesting energy or minimalist designs evoking elegance.
By appreciating how much impact packaging can have on creating positive, memorable experiences for customers who buy beverages (or don't), brands can set themselves apart from rivals in highly competitive categories.
This article covers why beverage packaging design matters so much today; what good looks like; current trends when designing drinks containers; using sustainable materials where possible without compromising quality, among other things; real-life examples where adequate packaging has made all the difference; some common mistakes to avoid when coming up with ideas for new packages; what else designers need to factor into their thinking now- including how Covid has changed people's habits -and what they should consider when trying to predict future needs.
The Significance of Beverage Packaging Design
The role of beverage packaging design in manufacturing, logistics, selling, advertising and customer experience cannot be overstated. It must protect the product during transportation and on the shelf until it reaches consumers in optimum condition. The beverage packaging also provides essential information such as nutritional details, ingredients and expiration dates so customers can make informed choices.
Beverage packaging design is a powerful marketing tool. At a glance, it can communicate a brand's values, positioning and unique selling points to consumers. For example, a premium brand could use luxurious materials and sophisticated designs to connote exclusivity or quality. At the same time, packaging that highlights a drink's natural or organic aspects might help target health-conscious customers.
By aligning packaging design with their brand identity and target audience strategy, companies can enhance overall customer experience and drive sales.
Snapple is an excellent case study for how important beverage packaging design can be. In 2017, when Snapple redesigned its product's new look, it was responsible for increasing sales significantly.
The redesign featured vibrant colours, playful illustrations, and transparent information about the products' natural ingredients. This caught consumer attention and positioned Snapple as a refreshing, healthy choice.
The success of this project puts into sharp focus how visually appealing informative beverage packing has become crucially important to capturing consumer interest and driving sales.
Critical Elements of Effective Beverage Packaging
Several vital elements are needed to create an effective beverage packaging design. One of the most significant is brand consistency. Ensure your packaging consistently reflects your brand and makes a positive first impression on consumers.
Understanding your product, target audience, brand identity, and the budget you have for packaging is essential when designing any consumer packaging – including beverage packs.
Determining the best type and structure of pack for your beverage is crucial in terms of practicality and aesthetics.
Differentiation is another crucial factor when it comes to designing effective beverage packs. An example of differentiation achieved through excellent pack design can be seen in Coca-Cola's contour bottle.
The iconic shape of this bottle – which dates back to 1915 – has become synonymous with the Coca-Cola brand and is instantly recognisable worldwide.
It helps set Coca-Cola apart from its competitors and evokes feelings of nostalgia and tradition. This unique pack design has enabled Coca-Cola to build substantial brand equity over many years.
Current Trends in Beverage Packaging Design
In the world of beverage packaging design, several trends are dominating. One sees the industry incorporating innovative visual elements – vibrant colours, unique shapes and eye-catching graphics – to make packages stand out on the shelves. Another involves designing minimalist and eco-friendly packs that convey a sense of sustainability – something consumers increasingly value.
A third trend is for interactive packaging that might involve augmented reality, helping to enhance the customer experience.
Minimalist design in beverage packaging has gained traction over recent years, reflecting a shift towards a more modern and sophisticated aesthetic.
This pack features clean lines, straightforward typography and subtle branding. It can feel exclusive or aspirational – perhaps even making people think: “There's nothing else quite like this.”
LaCroix sparkling water from National Beverage Corporation is one brand which has had success with minimalism in its pack designs (though it also runs promotions featuring louder imagery).
Perrier is another brand where minimalist pack design works well: almost no print on its bottles; instead, they are frosted glass with embossed lettering.
“[The category] was about showing off before,” says Raul Esquer Torres, founder of San Francisco-based studio 23 Design. “Now it's about sharing [and] making others feel good.” That can mean staying away from excessive patterning or bright colours.
Eco-friendly drink packaging is trending upwards as consumers become more conscious of their impact on Earth.
Just Water offers an example here: rather than using single-use plastic bottles for its water range, it comes packaged in fully recyclable paper-based cartons, which have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), ensuring they meet rigorous standards around responsible forest management.
Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials for Beverages
The beverage packaging industry has responded to the global push for sustainability by adopting more environmentally friendly materials. As a result, bioplastics, recycled paper and glass are used to package drinks. The advantages of sustainable materials include a lower carbon footprint and appeal to ethically-minded consumers.
Bioplastics from renewable sources such as cornstarch or sugar cane offer a greener alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastics. Unlike oil-derived plastics, these can be broken down in composting systems with fewer emissions produced during manufacture.
Another option is recycled paper and cards, which can be easily recycled after use. This makes it suitable for many types of drink packaging, including cartons and labels.
Glass is perceived as highly sustainable because it is 100% recyclable and can be reused numerous times without any loss of quality.
WTRMLN WTR uses glass bottles for its products in part because they align with the brand's commitment to sustainability.
Using sustainable packaging helps reduce environmental impact and enhances brand reputation when ethical consumerism rises. Shoppers increasingly want products that chime with their values: showing that you are taking steps towards sustainability might give your brand an edge over rivals when targeting eco-aware customers.
Successful Beverage Packaging Design Case Studies
Using packaging design to maximise their beverage products and create interest among consumers has been effectively demonstrated by several brands. Each case study highlights some unique features and elements that have contributed to its success, showing how clever packaging can help grab the attention of shoppers and give them something worth sharing with friends – in short, it makes it easier for them to choose your product over competitors.
One great example is the Coca-Cola Share a Coke campaign, which created personalised labels featuring individual names. Nothing else was exceptional about the bottle itself (the regular shape and label were unchanged), but adding this simple element grabbed people's attention because it suddenly felt personal. The aim was to encourage social sharing: if you found a bottle with your friend's or loved one's name on it, then you would buy it for them as a gift.
And so there were bottles labelled Emma, Mark or Nicola. Or mum and dad.
There were also lots of names there wasn't room for on the shelves – 250 all across Australia – so you had to go online if you wanted an Amos Coke.
The whole thing quickly took off worldwide – reaching 80 countries from Australia within three years – resulting in increased sales by creating “a moment” between someone who saw their own or someone else's name on a bottle or tin can and bought it.
Using packaging design creatively as part of the marketing mix makes such experiences possible today.
Packaging that stands out
Another good example is Bai Brands, which sells antioxidant-infused drinks through UK retailers, including Sainsbury's and Whole Foods Market.
The US brand uses bold typography in its logo on packs of products such as Supertea Tanzanian Lemonade Tea and Honeybush Citrus Green Tea Drink – both available now at both stores.
Bai Brands' colourful packaging, which features vivid imagery, has been created to stand out on the shelf and convey the health-focused positioning of the brand.
Its bold colours, such as orange, also set it apart from competitors because – in this case – many other brands in the category feature blue on the pack.
Having distinctive-looking packaging is “crucial” for Bai Brands' success because it helps to grab shoppers' attention and remind them what makes its products different from rivals', said Caroline Ruston, marketing controller at Northwich-based importer and distributor Lotus Ethical Foods.
Bai Brands also “makes great use” of storytelling when explaining how its drinks are made or where ingredients are sourced. All these factors help build trust with consumers.
Avoiding Common Packaging Design Mistakes
To achieve adequate beverage packaging, it is essential to bypass common design mistakes. These consist of misrepresenting the brand or product, underestimating the significance of typography, creating packaging that generates excessive waste or is challenging to open, and squandering space and materials within designs. By optimising materials and space to avoid such errors, by designing easily openable packaging, and by paying more attention to typography in general, improved efficiency can be achieved with greater visual appeal.
In addition to neglecting functionality as a factor when designing packaging for beverages – even though aesthetics are vital – another error often made is being too impractical. For instance, are they easy for consumers who purchase them regularly (or as gifts) to hold? Are they easy to pour from? And do they reseal easily?
By thinking about usability while ensuring your package looks great on the shelf (and online), you'll enhance your customers' overall experience.
Again, from time to time, we may all buy something that's over-packaged or contains elements not readily recyclable – but at least there's awareness among consumers today around this issue.
Suppose members of our industry insist on selling products in unrecyclable plastic bottles or 100% non-biodegradable cartons. In that case, they should be aware that their choice will impact consumer perception of their brands. People want less waste today, so why not give it what it wants?
Designers who consider recycling and resource use during the creative process can help beverage brands align themselves with consumer expectations and sustainability goals/ambitions by producing packages that generate little waste.
Considerations for Designing Beverage Packaging
Several factors must be considered when creating a drink package to ensure the design connects with the brand and highlights the target audience. You need to understand the drink, what sets it apart, and how it will be sold. Getting feedback from potential customers can provide insights that you can use to enhance your design to appeal more strongly to consumers.
One crucial factor is where the beverage will be consumed geographically and culturally. Different cultures have different packaging preferences and expectations – depending on which market you're targeting, using colours or symbols linked to tradition might work very well. Being aware of this kind of detail means you can tweak your drink packaging designs for specific markets, making sure they connect more effectively with target audiences.
Another thing worth considering is how your design makes consumers feel emotionally. Different colours, shapes or textures create different feelings or associations (for instance, reds/yellows = energy/excitement; blues/greens = calm/freshness). Choosing visual elements carefully within your drink packaging designs allows you to develop a strong emotional connection with consumers and significantly bolsters their overall product experience.
Packaging Design Process for Beverages
Designing beverage packaging is a complex process for producing an efficient, visually pleasing package. This begins with understanding the product, target consumer and sales channels. This should be accompanied by creating a style board and setting your packaging budget to help guide your design direction. Selecting appropriate materials and structures suitable for both functionality and aesthetics is critical. Working with printers early on to discuss print requirements or options will save time later in the process. Finalising information that needs to go onto the pack is critical.
Your design should be evaluated across different contexts – such as the shelf, online store or cooler – with feedback from shoppers or others in your organisation to refine the design further.
Lastly, ensuring you receive the correct design files from your designer will ensure the smooth execution of your packaging project.
Throughout this multi-step process, there must be good communication between you (the beverage company) and your designer.
It would help if you fostered an environment of collaboration where ideas can freely flow, feedback is regularly provided, and synergies exist so both parties work together towards objectives set at the beginning of the project; communication happens often enough that changes can still be executed without causing delays.
By being open-minded about change – even late-stage change – above all else, listen carefully to what the designer has to say during this journey, which could result in a better outcome.
Future Trends in Beverage Packaging Design
The beverage packaging industry changes daily, and new design trends are emerging. One focus will be how emerging technologies such as smart packaging and intelligent labels affect packaging design. Sustainability remains a significant trend, emphasising eco-friendly materials and innovative recycling methods.
One future trend could be personalised interactive packaging experiences that help consumers engage more with the product. Continuous innovation and keeping up with consumer preferences will be critical to success.
An example of where things might go next comes from Simon Boas Hoffmeyer from Sipwise, a Danish start-up which has developed an app telling users if their drink contains any allergens using a built-in smartphone sensor.
In future, he said phones could even read product barcodes or fingerprinting systems – used to track an individual's movement around the internet – so brands can offer personalised marketing deals based on what they like drinking.
Another potential future trend in beverage packaging design is augmented reality (AR). This allows customers to interact with virtual elements overlaid with physical drink products.
This could involve scanning a QR code on the label and activating AR that provides additional information about the drink or offers recipes. It could even allow consumers to try out different flavours before purchase.
Embracing this technology means they “can create unique interactions between brands and consumers,” said Ben Gale from Shad Labs UK, which has created an interactive virtual bartender service for mobile apps using AR.
The days of simple glass bottles and metal cans are long gone. Beverage packaging has become more creative, innovative and, in many cases, much better looking.
Prettier packaging is one way to stand out on crowded shelves—and a few companies have taken that idea to heart.
There's the custom nature-inspired artwork on Juniper Ridge's boxes of wild-harvested air fresheners—the minimalist typography on Known Cold Pressed's bottles of fresh juice. And Just Water's square-shaped, sugarcane-based cartons reflect its focus on sustainability.
As consumer tastes evolve—so will visuals—the future for drink packaging looks bright.
With consumers increasingly seeking out personalised experiences they can share with their social networks—and social media blowing up—brands have more incentive to innovate in their drinks-packing designs than ever before.
And as the examples above show, who knows? Maybe sometimes those drinks say “art”.