taking a photo of food packaging

Social media has been influencing brands’ decisions for every aspect of business since its inception, and packaging design is no exception. Before the days of Instagram and Twitter, packaging design was much simpler. No one had to consider the reaction consumers have towards things like box size, air pillows, and other key elements of a solid packaging design. You just had to get your product to them in one piece.

The rise of social media has made it impossible for brands to ignore their packaging design without consequences. Consumers are quick to reprimand a company on social media for poor packaging decisions, especially with the rising trend of sustainability. You can’t expect consumers to sit quietly anymore, which means you’ll have to figure out how social media is influencing packaging design in order to be successful. Luckily for you, we’ve broken down the ways that social media affects packaging design, so take a look below.

Social Media Causes Brands to Think About Packaging Differently

Before social media took over, companies would choose packaging designs based on convenience and cost. It was about finding the cheapest solution that protected products effectively while helping brands streamline their shipping process. No one cared if their packaging invoked emotion or captured attention. People didn’t expect anything of packaging before the rise of social media.

Now that everything is posted online, packaging serves as an extension of the brand. It has to be considered just like any other marketing element, which makes us think differently about how our packaging is designed around the product. Now, packaging must capture the essence of your brand in addition to providing the proper level of protection.

Social Media Forces Packaging to Be More Complex

With social media, unboxing has become a major part the consumer experience. There are countless videos of people opening boxes online and sharing the contents of a package with their followers. This causes packaging to be more complex because consumers now have expectations of what opening a package should be like.

Now, you have to consider more than just protection. Consumers expect opening their package to be a grand experience. They want to feel suspense as they uncover a product and pull it out in a glorious reveal. This requires you to consider how each element of your packaging design will affect the experience of unboxing.

You also need to consider how easy the box is to open because any delays will cause frustration. You’ll want to pick a filler material that really shows off the product, like how paper shreds make products look organic or air pillows point towards the future. Each element of the packaging design must be carefully thought out, making the entire process more complex than before.

Social Media Requires Brands to Be Responsible with Packaging

We can confidently say that the need for sustainability is not going away but growing stronger with each passing year. While brands should be responsible with their packaging sustainability on their own, social media is going to help push those who are behind the curve to catch up. Consumers want brands to be held accountable for packaging that isn’t sustainable, and they’re taking to social media to make sure their voices are heard.

Major companies like Amazon and Marks & Spencer have been hit with the hashtag: #toomuchpackaging, which calls out brands for shipping small products in large boxes filled with excess material or for adding plastic when it’s not necessary. Consumers are not going to let you get away with overpackaging products or using non-recyclable goods in the coming years, and social media is going to be what pressures brands to conform to society’s needs.

Some customers are even changing their shopping habits to accommodate for sustainability, so if you want to keep your market share, you’re going to have to be responsible with your packaging design in the future.

We’ve learned that social media requires brands to think differently about their packaging design to make it more complex while still adhering the trend of sustainability. The unboxing experience has become a ritual among consumers, and they are quick to highlight brands who do it well and quick to scold brands who fail to impress them. So, will your packaging design survive on social media?