Special Edition: Active, Intelligent Packaging

What are the problems with packaging design today?

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

What are the problems with packaging design today?
Packaging which you cannot open, designs which are not interactive, products that do not carry an emotional message and do not connect with the consumer, are all the problems with packaging design today, according to Lars Wallentin, packaging, communication and design expert.

In his presentation ‘Design is a verb – ‘Promoting design thinking throughout the supply chain’, at EuroPack, in Monaco, France, last week, the former Nestlé veteran encourages companies to: ‘Be daring, be different, be first’.

'POS is a disaster'

The communication on packaging is all about advertising, POS is a disaster, we just add and add and take nothing away. If we continue like this people won’t be able to read what is in the pack because there’s too much information on it​,” he said.

Communication is important because if people don’t understand what it says on the pack they won’t buy it. When you do packaging right it has a second value and becomes a collector’s item like a limited edition Evian bottle​.”


Wallentin said Sir Conran once said ‘design is a process from an idea to its final design’ but 95% is common sense and 5% is flair.

Designers have to incorporate all five senses; sight, taste, hear, smell, touch. But popularity of a product depends on the cultural differences on where it is sold.

We need to strengthen and amplify the ‘smell’ and ‘taste’, which is difficult on packaging, to illustrate what the food experience is all about. I never understood why Nestlé never did a ‘scratch and sniff’ device on its coffee​,” he added.

One of the most important things is the photography, as if you can taste the illustration. McDonald’s is good at this, food must be seen up close, as if you can touch it and taste what you see. A picture is tastier than words​.


The food industry is so traditional. We don’t need to write what the product is on each side of a box, we need to maximize the ‘touch’ using its surface. Everything can be embossed today. You can’t design packaging on a computer screen. You need a computer for execution but not in the initial stages​.”

Build music into a pack to make it more interesting

According to Wallentin, another feature that isn’t utilized enough is sound.

How many packs have sound, that’s what kids love, you can also build music into a pack to make it more interesting, with a jingle or a game, all these things are what’s missing on today’s work​,” he said.

We are forgetting the five senses, the sixth is humour - we must have fun, otherwise we cannot be creative, some designers are very good at it, the British humor is the best, limited edition ‘Pringooooals’ and in France, the ‘Sand Tropez’ wine bottle, with embossed sand on the lettering, these are just some examples​.”


He said a product, like chocolate is easy to design for it, Lindt for example has an emotional link with its consumers, because the gold foil says ‘quality’, but claimed KitKat took away its aluminium foil because it wanted faster production times.

The big companies are not that good at what they do any more because they work towards guidelines and best practices, but we can utilize the primary, secondary and tertiary packaging and the shipping carton has the best advertising space. Chiquita knows this, and Milka has capitalized on its design by thinking outside the box, with its Milka toaster​,” added Wallentin.

He said with in store point-of-sale (POS) product illustration is more important here not the logo.

Advertising is about being surprised. If you can’t surprise you do nothing. We need to look at logo types and change it around, Google changes it every day​,” he added.

Communication is about being emotional

Packaging has never been so fascinating, some are jumping on the bandwagon and but some won’t take the risk. Communication is about being emotional, Innocent are a great example of this​.”

Wallentin said there are too many packs today which don’t open properly, and the industry has a long way to go. Also, the design of a pack needs to be simple because our brains don’t have the capacity to take in all this information within 10 seconds.


We need to express ourselves better, that is what we are bad at today, if we expressed ourselves more we would be better, show it, tell people, we are holding back and that is why we are not so good, it’s about expression​,” he said.

Good examples of ‘ritual design’ - interaction and consumption between the consumer and the pack is drinking a Corona beer with a lime in it, having to shake Orangina before you open it and more brands today are using an icon than a logo type because it carries a stronger, more emotional message​.”

Orangina 0,25L v

Wallentin said one of the trends for the future will be more interactive packaging and we need to put beauty back into the art of design, to give it secondary value.

If you get it right, it’s a great investment for your company in the future, the most creative one is the one who asks the most questions, we have too many guidelines today, which limits creativity​,” he said.

Personalization won’t be a problem with the advancement of digital printing. The biggest promotion we have seen is Coca-Cola with individualized names on the cans, we will see more of that, localization will happen with digital printing​.”

Related topics Processing & Packaging

Related news

Show more

Follow us


View more