19 June, 2018
Poor information leads to poor choices
We make on average 35,000 conscious decisions per day, according to multiple sources online. With so many decisions to make, it’s a wonder we’re able to sustain a healthy, balanced way of life. There are so many opportunities throughout the day for us to make a ‘bad’ choice, whether it’s standing at the supermarket shelf debating what to make for dinner that night, or when picking out a new shampoo. Sometimes we need a little moment to stop, reflect and think about what it is we really want, and ultimately, what we really need. Humans are highly motivated to avoid making choices they regret, and this hard-wired fear of doing the wrong thing can lead to stress so great it affects your decision making – to the point where you make a choice you wish you hadn’t.
‘Our life is the sum total of all the decisions we make every day, and those decisions are determined by our priorities.’
With the wealth of information our brains are processing on a daily basis, coupled with a general skepticism and distrust across beauty, food, and beverage sectors; brands that deliver a clear, concise message are gaining our attention and increasing in popularity. We are surrounded, overwhelmed and bombarded by media reports, corporate jargon, advertising, social media and when it comes to the world of FMCG packaging, it’s the quiet between the noise that stands out in our minds.
A matter-of-fact design approach that highlights one single minded reason to believe – whether it’s emphasizing a key single ingredient or one brilliant benefit, packaging that has a clear message is allowing us to shop in a more considered way, encouraging us to use our intuition as part of the decision-making process.
Using transparent language, pared back imagery and refined fonts is no longer only relevant to premium products, minimalism on packaging is accepted in the mainstream now, largely due to consumers being desensitized by an overuse of marketing claims and traditional design cues for ‘authentic’ products, such as McDonalds ‘Crafted Range’ or Heinz’s chalkboard style ‘Soup of The Day’. The corporate giants have established an aesthetic for authenticity that now appears like wallpaper in the context of supermarket shelves and we’ve stop being convinced.
US food and grocery pioneers, Brandless, based in San Francisco, are leading the way with pared back, no nonsense packaging that contains a single ingredient or product. The trademarked ‘white box’ displayed on all of the company’s packaging lists key benefits or qualities of the product, and the simple pricing structure (every product is $3 US) maintains simplicity across all aspects of the range.
T Plus Drinks have created a range of ‘super teas’ for any mood or occasion, blending a mix of functional herbs, vitamins and fruit to work harder for your health than anything on the market. They have focussed on one single message for their range to help consumers understand the overarching end benefit – whether it’s sleep, energy, or focus you’re after. Similarly, Kiwi brand Only Good are heroing a key benefit on their range of gentle body washes, which are all 100% natural, palm free and never tested on animals. The packaging is designed with integrity to these core messages and the branding is given an extra touch of love with gold foil detailing.
Need some head space?
There’s been a lot of public discussion about mental health, and mindfulness is leading to consumers who actively practice meditation, who appreciate periods of digital switch-off, and who are striving for a more considered, peaceful day-to-day life. This is affecting not only the products they buy, it’s also affecting their leisure activities and the spaces they enjoy being in.
Australia’s first drop-in meditation studio, A–Space, has recently opened in Melbourne, highlighting the growing traction of this trend, along with ‘recharj’ in the US – a modern meditation and power nap studio ‘created for people to enhance their cognition, reduce stress and cultivate a sense of community.’
Selfridges recognized this growing trend and were ahead of the curve in 2013 when they launched a campaign called ‘No Noise’ – a project aimed at providing customers with a tranquil shopping experience in more ways than one – inviting you to celebrate the power of quiet, see the beauty in function and find calm among the crowds.
The campaign centered around the re-launch of its Silence Room, first created by founder Harry Gordon Selfridge in 1909, to allow customers to ‘take a moment to pause and switch off’, leaving shoes, phones and ‘21st century distractions’ at the door. High profile brand names were removed from packaging and Selfridges dropped the name from their famous yellow shopping bags. A curated ‘Quiet Shop’ was designed to offer customers a carefully selected range of products from symbolically de-branded items, to everyday stationery and wardrobe staples – promoting a purer approach to design.
How are brands tackling mindfulness?
Hinoki Skincare draws inspiration from origami, using a single piece of paper to create the packaging for cosmetic products. The subtle palette, creativity in materials and minimisation of waste makes this appealing to consumers who are looking for quiet, mindful products. Similarly, Agnotis baby care products use textures and rounded forms to differentiate between their products and reinforce the purpose of each item.
‘Mindulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.’
The more we consider minimalist attitudes towards life in general, through practices such as mindfulness and living with less, the more we embrace it on the products we buy. Consumers are striving to live a more meaningful life and documentaries such as the recent ‘Minimalism’ on Netflix are inviting us to consider exactly this – how can we ‘de-clutter’?
Clutter-free living doesn’t have to be radical, it can represent a kinder, more mindful approach to a pared-back life, driven by joyfulness. Inspired by Marie Kondo’s book ‘Spark Joy’, a growing number of consumers are deciding on purchases by asking, ‘Does it spark joy?’, even in the smallest of purchase decisions.
If consumers are looking for mindful moments in the everyday, how can your brand encourage the consumer to pause and reflect? If a new appreciation for beauty and tactility is emerging, how can your packaging ‘bring joy’ in a calm and relaxing manner, both visually and via touch?
By Tessa Carr