Branding trends for CPG: Sustainability, Authenticity — Gen Y to Boomers

My interview with Ami Werner, independent design strategy consultant and trend-spotter in New York City.
1. When you think back to what you were designing in 2003, what trends / changes had real legs since then ?The authenticity trend. Since the economic downturn, there has been a continued reconnection to brands that harken back to a simpler time where quality, timel
ess durability and dependability were the norm and not the exception. This can be seen with the high popularity among the millennial generation of tried and true brands like Red Wing and Filson to the artisinal, small batch craftsmanship of Mast Bros. Chocolate and Stumptown Coffee to the pared down simplicity of West Elm Market.2. What do you think the impact of social media and user-generated content has had on design?

Trends are easier to spot through the filter of social media. This can help brands stay nimble and in touch with their core consumers. However, social media now isn’t strong enough to be the sole star but should be used to augment your brand, push its brand perceptions further and create excitement that keeps consumers loyal and/or brings them back.

3. What are the design trends you are seeing in packaging design / consumer package goods?

There has been a big move towards sustainability (finally!!!), both in packaging materials (Seventh Generation recycled packs, Gillette recycled packs, help remedies cardboard pack) as well as in actual product (concentrated formulas use less materials and cost to ship, made from naturally derived materials).

The limited edition designer series or designer collaboration has made the leap from fashion and become more mainstream in the beverage category with Perrier by Andy Warhol (to celebrate their anniversary), Coke Light by Karl Lagerfeld, Roberto Cavalli, Moschino, Etro to name a few, or Curtis King (graffiti artist) for Smashbox.

As categories become over crowded with competitors the search for being truly disruptive at retail is becoming a hot commodity, which few brands truly succeed at. U by Kotex turned the fem care traditional category cues of pink and pale blues, flowers and butterflies on its head by using an all black canvas and bold graphic patterns. Living Proof and EOS broke through the noise by creating a unique and ownable package shape, used have-to-touch-it texture paired with a softer color palette than its loud, brash and bright competition.

4. Does the genY audience respond to different visual cues or concepts than boomers, gen x and boomers?

Boomers and Gen Y actually share very similar core values:
Boomers & Gen Y tend to see themselves as Hero.
Attributes: Optimistic, powerful, traditional, trust in authority.
Whereas as Gen X is more of a nomad.
Attributes: Skeptical, tough, adventurous, cynical.

The one differentiator between Boomers & Gen Y is diversity. Gen X & Gen Y are more about diversity than any previous generational cohorts.

5. If you started a new brand tomorrow that was really future-proof, what would it be?

Doggy daycare in my Brooklyn neighborhood – there aren’t any nearby. I don’t know if it’d be future-proof but it would definitely have the forever-future-cuteness factor.


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