Smart technology has given consumers access to a deeper understanding of what goes into the products they are putting on and into their bodies. The demand for healthier alternatives in everyday life is nothing new, but it continues to evolve and influence buyer decisions. Wellness and #selfcare is so significant, that consumers also want the products they buy to look the part, which is why product packaging is the most significant factor driving consumer decisions today.
Brands are forgoing the old saying “never judge a book by its cover” and placing significant emphasis on packaging to drive sales and optimize business success. From raw cardboard to earthy, neutral colors to minimalistic designs that highlight a product’s health attributes, the wellness culture has given product packaging renewed importance.
Wellness, broadly defined as the active pursuit of activities that promote physical and mental well-being, is a defining theme of the past decade and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. According to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), wellness expenditures ($4.2 trillion in 2017) are now more than half as large as the total global health expenditures. The industry grew by 6.4% annually from 2015 to 2017, nearly twice as fast as overall global economic growth. With double-digit annual growth since 2010, it’s no wonder the health and fitness industry is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing industries.
There are a few factors that have contributed to the success of the global wellness economy:
The introduction of smartphones and new technology has given consumers access to a wealth of information at the touch of a screen. And with approximately 2.5 billion people using social media platforms, the wellness industry has quickly taken to social media, using both direct marketing as well as influencers for their product promotions.
An increase in lifestyle-related illnesses has also helped drive the wellness industry to where it is today. While technology has provided consumers with access to more information regarding their own health, it has also had negative health effects. Between Netflix binge sessions that reduce physical activity time and overall poor eating habits, consumers have become increasingly motivated to seek out healthier alternatives.
That brings us to Millennials. This generation has played a large role in the wellness culture’s success, with a tendency to place greater value on wellness and health than on material goods. According to Sanford Health, recent studies show that 79% of Millennials said family was important in their lives, followed by health and wellness at 53%. Between social media and the Millennial attitude towards wellness, it’s no secret why the wellness industry is a major trend.
There was a time when the wellness industry only applied to gym facilities and health food stores. But today, wellness has gained traction across various sectors, with more and more companies taking on a holistic image of health and wellness to boost business success.
According to the GWI, the top 10 sectors in the wellness industry in 2017 were as follows:
1. Personal Care, Beauty, and Anti-Aging ($1,083 billion)
2. Healthy Eating, Nutrition, and Weight Loss ($702 billion)
3. Wellness Tourism ($639 billion)
4. Fitness and Mind-Body ($595 billion)
5. Preventative and Personalized Medicine and Public Health ($575 billion)
6. Traditional and Complementary Medicine ($360 billion)
7. Wellness Lifestyle Real Estate ($134 billion)
8. Spa Economy ($119 billion)
9. Thermal/Mineral Springs ($56 billion)
10. Workplace Wellness ($48 billion)
Wellness is an extremely profitable industry that has driven countless businesses to target consumers who value health and wellness. But such a prominent trend comes with heavy competition and, therefore, high consumer standards.
One of the most important standards that consumers uphold is directly related to product packaging. A national study by the Paper and Packaging Board and IPSOS shows that seven out of 10 (72%) consumers agree that packaging design can influence their decision to purchase a product. When selecting which products to buy, 67% of consumers agree that they’re often influenced by the material the product is packaged in and 71% of consumers said they were more likely to buy brands that package their products in paper or cardboard, than in other materials. 
Olga Bates, Manager of Marketing Insights Beauty & Personal Care at Silgan Dispensing Systems, explains that “product and package design are seen as the biggest drivers for consumer sales thanks to a confluence of factors.” To meet consumer demands, wellness branding has become far less focused on gender-specific packaging and more focused on demonstrating an understanding of the individual client’s unique needs.
Brands are also using their packaging to highlight the product’s natural ingredients and the environmental-friendliness of the packaging. Generally speaking, brands are shifting more towards natural, minimalistic, neutral colors and design.
Check out some of our favorite product packaging, all of which demonstrate a clear understanding of what their consumers in the wellness culture want:
This packaging boasts a simple design with only the bar’s ingredients listed on the wrapper. This demonstrates the brand’s transparency and authenticity, qualities that are highly valued by consumers.
This packaging is minimalist in design with only the brand’s name highlighted. The drink’s color is the most prominent feature of the packaging design, aside from the brand name.
This package is yet another example of a minimalist design, with a stylized image of a vegetable featured front and center.
This product packaging is a great example of the value consumers place on aesthetically pleasing products. With home spa days now more of an everyday occurrence than an occasional indulgence, consumers want the products on their bathroom counters to look luxurious and clean in design.
This packaging features holistic images of vegetables and highlights the product’s health attributes with an illustrated sun labeled “100% Natural.”
This package design is quite simple with a lighter color scheme and little text, giving it a clean and calming appeal.
Considering that the majority of consumers value cardboard and paper packaging above all other materials, L’Oreal’s separate division, Seed Phytonutrients, is on the right track to succeed as far as packaging goes. These shower products are sold in only recycled, recyclable, compostable, paper-based bottles and boast a natural, earthy aesthetic that consumers love.
Denmark’s largest manufacturer of wooden kitchen utensils wanted to emphasize this product’s all natural materials through this package design. With an image of roots and the wooden kitchen utensil depicting a tree, this package successfully highlights the products most important attributes in a creative way.
This product packaging highlights the core of a fruit on its lid and boasts a clean, simple logo that depicts a spoon in a cup.
This package successfully highlights the product’s natural features through a minimalist, wooden design and a simple label. It’s another example of how the wellness industry has influenced various sectors in terms of how brands are designing their packages to stand out in the wellness culture.
As consumers continue to value product packaging that represents the wellness culture, companies will need to evolve and innovate to meet their consumers’ needs and stand out among competition. Because when it comes to product packaging, first impressions really are everything to businesses that want to successfully attract customers and drive them to make a purchase.
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