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Minimalist Packaging Design: Why Less is More

Posted by Kevin Keating at PKG on November 14, 2016 in CPG

As the world around us becomes increasingly more complex, consumers show a marked preference for minimalist design in packaging. Simplicity trumps clutter time and again. 


Apple understands the power of minimalism.

But simplicity in consumer packaging is about more than simply de-cluttering your design. Sir Jonathan Ive, Apple's Chief Design Officer, notes: "Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that's a consequence of simplicity. Simplicity is somehow essentially describing the purpose and place of an object or product. The absence of clutter is just a clutter-free product. That's not simple." 

How can brands achieve simplicity in packaging design? Choosing a minimalist approach is one good way to do so.

What Minimalism Is and Is Not

The motto of minimalism is "omit needless things." For consumer packaging, this would entail paring down packaging materials and also paring down the visual aspects of the design. Packaginginnovation.com expresses this concept beautifully, stating: "Minimalist packaging should be more than a packaging design strategy aimed at using as little resource materials as possible. It's a design choice combining aspects such as ecology, usability and beauty into a single, clever and distinct-looking package."

Thus, minimalism in packaging design is not the absence of design, but rather a precise, highly focused type of design that conveys your brand message in a clean, clear, and concise way.

Why Minimalist Designs Work

Minimalist packaging designs do not contain graphic elements that distract consumers from the central focus of the packaging. Thus, products with minimalist design tend to stand out from other products on a grocery shelf because they convey a highly targeted brand message in an instantly understandable way.

This enables the consumer to easily identify the item and make a rapid purchase decision. Minimalist packaging design eliminates confusion and friction from the decision-making process and consumers readily gravitate toward the simplicity of the marketing message.

Techli.com mentions another significant advantage to adopting a minimalist approach to packaging, noting: "When done right, minimalist packaging can actually have a positive effect on the environment. Through recyclable materials and reusable designs, packaging can have a second or third life as something else entirely, cutting down on the amount of trash we throw away instead of adding to it."

Environmentally conscious consumers, then, also gravitate to products and brands embracing minimalist packaging designs. In one Nielsen study, 52 percent of global respondents stated that their purchase decisions are partly dependent on the packaging and that they check the labeling first before buying to ensure the brand is committed to positive social and environmental impact.

Minimalist packaging designs also save money because they eliminate as much waste as possible. Brands that pass that savings on to consumers in the way of reduced pricing earn customer loyalty quickly. And even those brands that do not lower their pricing when employing minimalist packaging design net more revenue in the long run than some of their counterparts with extraneous design features do.

Simplicity sells.

The Bottom Line

Minimalist packaging design has broad consumer appeal when done correctly. (You can check out 10 best practices for minimalist packaging design here.) Removing clutter and paring your brand message down to its true essence can help your product stand out from a sea of competitors. To discuss how to leverage minimalist packaging design for your products, please contact us. Let's get the conversation started. 

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