Packaging Design Trends for 2020 & Beyond

Spotting Design Trends, Part 1 – Life Cycle of a Trend

Do you want to learn to spot design trends?

Of course you do. That’s why you’re online searching for “packaging design trends” or “graphic design trends” for 2020. How do you know what to click and who to believe? The real question is how do you spot your own trends that don’t require validation from anyone but yourself?

There are many processes out there for trend spotting and forecasting. some are data driven, others by individual forecasters with their own methods not available to you. What if instead of showing you the trends, I share my process for spotting and forecasting packaging design trends so that you can spot them yourself? Having shared my trend spotting process with brands ranging from fashion and beauty to spirits and tech. I want to show you how to identify trends early in graphic and packaging design.

How Trends Develop

In order to spot design trends, you’ll need to understand how they happen in the first place. Knowing the 5 stages of adoption which includes the innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards allows you spot a trend through its lifecycle.

The 5 Phases of Adoption

The Innovators make up the first 2.5% of the people adopting an idea. At this stage you can’t quite call anything a trend, but you may notice it on an inconsistent basis. Many concepts begin and end here without ever being diffused to the masses. As a trend forecaster, here is where you can often be wrong in your predictions because you’re identifying them too early.

The Early Adopters are the next 13.5%. This is the inflection point where an idea shared by few evolve into a trend. If you’re observant you’ll begin to encounter it every 1-2 weeks. But if you’re not paying attention, you’re sure to miss it. Professional trend forecasters will begin to share their ideas at the early onset of this stage. The more it’s discussed, the higher probability of a trend developing and making it into mass market or better yet, pop culture.

The Early Majority will deliberate longer before making the decision to adopt an idea. Once an idea is adopted by this group, the trend is easily diffused to the masses and a trend is fully realized. Trends at this stage find their way into every piece of media claiming upcoming design trends. Design trends at this stage become easier to adopt without the risk of being singled out. You’ll be spotting this trend several times a week, and if it’s something digital you’ll be seeing it almost daily.

The Late Majority are said to be cautious, but by the time a trend is adopted by this group, it’s basically over. You’re encountering it daily by now, which means everyone around is as well. By now it’s no longer trend forecasting or trend spotting, it’s just looking out your window. This doesn’t mean you can’t implement the concept into your designs, it just means it’s a popular concept that everyone is using.

Then come the laggards. If you’re hoping to spot trends, you won’t look to this group for anything. If it’s here, it’s over.

Current Packaging Design Trend

Gradients are experiencing a resurgence as the fresh colorful alternative to blandness.

Gradients are currently mid-transition into the Late Majority stage. This design trend has been fully embraced by designers everywhere, no longer packing the colorful punch felt in early 2019. Yet surprisingly Apple’s credit card released last week is displayed in full gradient glory this late into the trend. It makes you wonder how much longer this design trend has left, or if Apple’s card just shows this trend is here for a while.

The application of gradient to the Apple Card makes you wonder how long this trend has left, or if it’s just getting started.

Stay tuned for the next post which breaks down how to spot color trends, and which color trends we are seeing begin to evolve for 2022.

How do you spot trends, and what are evolving design trends that you’re experimenting with?

Evelio Mattos - Creative Director

Named “One of the 200 Best Packaging Designers” by Lurzer’s Archive, and Graphic Design USA's "Designers to Watch", Evelio is an industry recognized packaging design expert. He's a creative producer known for strategically bridging package design and sustainability, with flawless manufacturing. Evelio’s passion for designing and engineering memorable unboxing experiences for global brands and consumers, can be seen in his creative collaborations with some of the world's most sought after brands.

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