Five key packaging trends in 2021

By Scott Campbell Gamley

Packaging is just one area a brand can increase brand awareness, customer loyalty and sales

2020 taught us that we need to adapt to a constantly changing marketing climate. We’re spending less time in the supermarkets, and more time on social media – social advertising and the ease of buying products online has never been more critical.


Environmental awareness is not just a trend but fast becoming a major decision making factor. Customers are becoming more environmentally conscious, less packaging equals less waste. Brands that can vouch for sustainability, inclusivity and morality have a massive advantage in 2021. Recycled paperboard can also be recycled numerous times, and has a carbon footprint up to six times lower [than a glass bottle].


A simple and minimalist approach enables the customer not to be distracted. Flat illustrations are currently dominating the overall design world. The prevalence of clean, clutter-free package designs on store shelves is proof that less really can be more.


Colour plays a huge role in consumer engagement. The overall trend of 2021 will be the use of natural colours and neutral tones. In our annual Shutterstocks Colour Trends report, they looked for colours that have seen increased activity in the last year. These are the colours that will tell the story of 2021, appealing to universal audiences in visuals across the world.


The element of a brand being ‘human’ is huge, storytelling can be a way for brands to tell their history, mission and story. Our open-mindedness is growing as generations shift, and it seems the whackier the concept, the easier it is to advertise. Expect to see brands experimenting with flavours, sustainable recipe solutions and globally-inspired packaging. Many shoppers today find their default state to be stressed, anxious or depressed, so they also need the copy to be reassuring.

Clear Typography

People today want to get in and out of stores quickly, with COVID around who can blame them. Clear typography is easier to read from a distance, especially when combined with complementary colour palettes and other design elements that help make the copy easy to read. This, combined with bold colours, helps package design catch shoppers’ eyes, be identified as an item they need.


In 2021 packaging will continue to be a key part of the customer’s journey and experience with your brand. It is very important to adapt early to new trends in the industry, this will keep existing and new customers interested. This makes packaging design even more vital to your business than ever before.