May 15, 2018

3 Ways to Connect With Millennials Through Packaging Design

The internet has switched the power dynamic of shopping away from retailers and placed it firmly in the hands of consumers. Where customers were once required to navigate your store’s layout to find products, they can now view your entire product lines on their phones. Where they would once view your products in optimal retail conditions with favorable lighting and shelf placement, your virtual shelf is now the primary way users assess your product—digitally-focused Millennial shoppers most of all.

Branding for Millennial Impact

Millennial shoppers (defined as anyone born between ’81 and ‘96) approach the shopping a bit differently than generations before them, and your packaging needs to reflect these changing values.

To help you tap into these values, we offer three primary strategies.

Simplicity In Design

Millennials suffer from information overload as it is—and your packaging design shouldn’t pile on even more . Stick to quality over quantity. Create unique elements that play on your brand logo or color scheme to give them more information with less clutter.

For a good example of this, consider a modern Domino’s pizza box design compared against a new, minimalist design currently being tested by Domino’s UK. Which do you think will catch the eye of Millennial shoppers and be shared on social channels? If you guessed door number two, you’re right.

Photos That Encourage Social Proof

Part of designing for Millennials means reaching them where they live. These days, it’s Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube. If you want your products to make an impact on these visually-oriented social channels, you’ll need to make sure your digital resources are ready. We won’t harp too much on the importance of creating high quality images, but we’ll point out one important trend that highlights the need for the strategy: Social proof.

Millennials seek social validation and reassurance from their peers when shopping online, and the best way to curry favor with these markets is to create jaw-dropping product images that users will want to share.

Tell Your Brand Story

Another important Millennial trend is that they prioritize the why of selling more than the what. They’re interested in each brand’s unique story, the faces behind the products, and the journeys these people took to get where they are.

Integrate these snippets into your packaging and web presence. It’s not an advertisement; it’s giving users a peek behind the curtain that helps build trust and authenticity with your brand. Millennials are a digitally-focused market who perform research on brands before buying, so this information will definitely come up in their shopping process.

You Don’t Need to Reinvent the Wheel to Reach Millennials

For all the talk about how different Millennials are different from their Baby Boomer and Gen X counterparts, you don’t need to completely redesign your packaging strategy to cater to them.

The fundamentals of brand packaging psychology stay fairly consistent over time, and while you’ll need to adapt your marketing in a few key ways to reach this demographic, you shouldn’t stray too far from the design principles that got your brand to where it is today.


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

We use a strategic combination of market research, design, and consumer testing to solve complex brand problems more effectively, create differentiation, and forge more meaningful connections with customers.

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