2020 Packaging Trends

In 2020, we’re going to see packaging look to the future (by being more responsible and sustainable) and to the past (taking inspiration from vintage designs). Ultimately, it’s about the simplification of packaging to appeal to time-starved consumers.

1. Packaging that tells a story

That is, packaging that uses design to make it more relatable – either to experiences that people have had, or by reinforcing the brand’s heritage and authenticity.

Immersive packaging design by faraway

Sainsbury Design. Ma-gogo brand character development and heritage story
2. Neat and structured

Clean, unfussy design will be a major 2020 packaging trend. Consumers are already experiencing cognitive overload, so it’s important to tell them only what they really need to know, and not to over-complicate things.

Sainsbury Design- neat structured and retro tie back of characters

3. Transparent packaging

Transparency will be a major trend – consumers like clear packaging, because they can see exactly what they’re buying. There’ll also be much more labelling clarity, in terms of brands being 100% honest about the ingredients and origins of their products.


4. Sustainable/biodegradable packaging

Biodegradable packaging will become more common – especially for single-use items. Many of these new materials will be derived from plants – now it’s not just the contents that are organic! One of the most exciting ideas we’ve come across is carbon-neutral, 100% compostable bags made from mielies – even the carbon created during manufacturing and transport is offset by tree-planting initiatives.

Algae based plastic via Ari Jónsson

via Seed Phytonutrients

5. Bold shapes and colours

Retail environments are more crowded than ever, so you’ll notice a move towards bold colours and confident typography in 2020 as brands compete to catch people’s eyes. Colour has been identified as a key factor in purchasing psychology, so expect to see it used liberally.

Source: The Dieline

6. Black and matte

The most extreme version of simplified design in 2020 will be a profusion of black and white designs – a challenge and an opportunity to designers looking to make a real visual impact. We’ll also be seeing a greater use of matte finishes to suggest quality.

7. Bright gradients

Colour gradients allow designers to be both playful and sophisticated, and create compelling and original new looks on packaging. They add depth and dimension, and can make products “pop”.

Up beat gradient branding via Anna Ahnborg

8. Vintage-inspired

As part of a continuing retro trend, we’ll see brands using vintage-inspired packaging designs to subliminally associate themselves with the “good old days” and timeless values like honesty and integrity.

crafted vintage design via Joshua Noom

9. Playful Packaging Design

Packaging that makes you smile or that you can play with to distract you at your desk (or keep your kids happy in the car on the way home from the shops) will be big in 2020. We’re not complaining about having the chance to inject a bit more fun into life!

Playful packaging design by Chupavi

10. Styled/Whimsical Illustrations

Handwritten typography and whimsical designs will both be massive this year, as brands try to make shopping more fun. Get ready to feel like a kid again every time you step inside a store – no matter what it sells.

Whimsical foliage illustration via Hmmm creative studio

To learn more about how your product packaging can take advantage of these 2020 trends, contact Sainsbury Design and stay ahead of the curve.

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