May 18, 2016

4 Packaging Standbys that Might Be Going Bye-Bye

4 Packaging Standbys that Might Be Going Bye-Bye

We all thought that pagers were here to stay. Here are some packaging designs we were also wrong about.

Remember the charm of boil-in-a-bag frozen dinners? How about those ultra-long CD packages? Don’t you miss zip-top beer cans? No? Well that’s because those are what we call outdated packaging designs. Some marketing genius discovered more effective packaging strategies, and we haven’t looked back. We don’t fondly remember the days of waiting in line at the post office, or manually balancing checkbooks, either.

Packaging design is ever evolving. Thanks to scientific, engineering, and technological advances, certain packaging structures just aren’t making the grade anymore. Oh, it’s not anyone’s fault, really – it’s not like the designs were inherently flawed, or anything. It’s just that we know so much more now than we used to. For example, thanks to market research, we can know exactly what consumers think. It’s not always pretty, and it doesn’t always make total sense. Nevertheless, if our products are going to compete, we have to know if buyers want to squeeze their bottles or pump them, what color they want those bottles, and if they want Taylor Swift’s picture on them.

Although classic packaging concepts will always make a nostalgic resurgence, there are some that might be more trouble than they’re worth. Here are a few concepts that are no longer the ubiquity they once were.

Jar packaging for cosmetics.

We still see jars of various creams and gels on store shelves, but with some research studies indicating that certain formulas lose their efficacy when exposed to light and the process of oxidation, many buyers are avoiding the more expensive jarred products. This makes sense; if they’ll be rendered ineffective by their own packaging in a matter of days, then why fling perfectly good money out the window?

Also, albeit less importantly, although there are preservatives and anti-bacterial agents in jarred cosmetics, constantly dipping your fingers into the same pot of moisturizer over and over is just – well – gross.

Non-squeeze ketchup bottles

Glass ketchup bottles, and certainly the artisanal ketchup jars, are undoubtedly cute and nostalgic, but they aren’t the most efficient product-extracting mechanisms in the world. There’s no practical reason to sit at a diner table, vigorously shaking and pounding on a glass bottle when you could have squeezed the desired amount in a fraction of a second. When it comes to smooth condiments, we demand the option of squeezing.

Cork closures in wine bottles

Wine corks are slowly beginning to lose their wine-closing dominance – but not without a massive struggle. Although it is becoming increasingly obvious that screw cap wines can be just as fine as their cork-closed counterparts, there are still enthusiasts who cling to the ceremony and the antiquity of the traditional cork. But, in addition to being easier to open, screw caps don’t produce what is called “cork taint,” a wine-ruining phenomenon that is caused by chemical compounds that are either transferred through the cork, or by it. There are arguments for the use of corks, namely that they allow just enough oxygen during the aging process to add mellowness and complexity. However, for wines that aren’t meant to be aged for several decades, screw tops might be the way to go.

Non-resealable containers

Is it so hard to put a zip lock on bags? If there are multiple servings in a bag or box of snacks, why not make the packaging easy to close again securely? We are a frugal and mobile society, we carry our snacks in our bags and eat them on the go – we don’t want our Spicy Street Taco Doritos spilling out all over the bottoms of our designer man purses.

We’re not predicting that these outdated package designs will be gone by winter, but the public has definitely made its preferences clear. Make sure you are aware of your market’s habits before you commit to a design that might soon get its own series of obnoxious blog posts.


by Kevin Smith
Managing partner at SmashBrand. We're a group of experienced brand owners, thinkers and world-class designers united by an obsession for creating category disrupting brand experiences.

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