Brand and packaging design in a world of access over accumulation

In a world where we want to access more, but accumulate less, the role of strategic brand and packaging design has never been so important. 


over excess


Are we becoming more inspired by a lack of excess? The nature of consumerism is constantly changing. We continue to aspire, desire and require more and more, but for those in developed and privileged markets, it’s the more of what that is the question. Is the idea of ownership beginning to feel more like a burden? We see people favouring access over accumulation, with the sharing economy’s estimated value recently reported at £190bn and growing.

Changing social, cultural and economic factors result in the need for a fluid and fluctuating approach to creating desire for products through their brands. Access and opportunity is becoming the new ownership, with what we have ‘experienced’ being more covetable than accumulating physical things. As a result, we see businesses from BMW to L’Oreal finding that their future competitors are technology companies and sharing experience facilitators rather than the traditional same category offers.

The consistent decline in home ownership, especially among younger people may mark a change in perception of what we realistically aspire to own and what we feel we need to be fulfilled. A raised awareness of average household waste, including food waste, combined with campaigns against throwaway fashion all fuel the fire in favour of sustainable quality over quantity.

So, if we really do desire to access more, but accumulate less, what does it mean for the future of traditional consumer packaged goods? Ironically, the role of strategic branding and design will never be so important.

Our needs are hardly decreasing (more likely the opposite), and we continue to expect the wide array of growing product choices available to us. But we want to feel that everything we choose to consume perfectly fulfils its important role in our lives. We want our less to be more. As a result, it is integral that packaged goods focus on a clearly defined purpose, the experience and rituals they create, their reason for being. Then, in equal importance design needs to reflect this through sustainable mindfulness, best in class functionality and desirability. When this is done as well as possible we will be constantly reminded of why we need and desire this product over others.

We set about to ask our team some of their favourite everyday consumer packaged goods. The products that they felt had succeeded in creating a strong purpose and design and why. Oral B’s brand purpose of total expertise in oral care plays to the area of everyday rituals. This, combined with its considered product offering and clean, aspirational, professional design keeps us believing. Rowse honey combines its pleasing, own-able beehive structure with the functionality of a squeezy bottle that removes the need for cutlery and sticky mess. The simplicity of the design and transparent pack perfectly heroes the product.


Rowse honey


The Illy coffee tin and Bonne Maman’s conserve are some of everyone’s favourite iconic and re-usable structures. L’Oreal’s heritage and expertise in beauty directed at men presents functional performance with a no-nonsense packaging and identity that really balances the FMCG and premium world’s well. 


illy coffee beans


The bar has been set even higher. The role of brand strategy and design in creating desire is more important than ever in a world where we are savvier about choosing only what we really want or need.