My customer asked me

“What kinds of clever packaging exist today (part 3 of 3)?” 

In this third and final look at unique packaging ideas, the power of packaging is exemplified. The examples below perform double duty by containing the item for sale, as well as going the extra mile to catch the consumer off guard. All of the products mentioned (from speakers to sneakers) are everyday items that have been brought to life and are uniquely positioned on store shelves because of their packaging. Let’s take a look at the downright quirky and “unexpected” examples below.

Downright Quirky

Meat package shorts

Vegetarians, you might want to look away. Weird Clothing Company (I’ll say!) proudly displays its carnivorous shorts, complete with styrofoam tray, wrapped in cellophane and affixed with the label “Human Meat.” These gruesomely-marbleized shorts are irresistibly neat and are perfect for anyone looking for an eye-catching lower half. Part underwear and part undercooked, these shorts will have you strutting your mutton chops all the way to the butcher shop.

Frusion Fruit containers

The fruit invaders have landed! How can you resist these little guys? Okay, I admit, this isn’t the most eco-friendly packaging on Earth, but they sure make fruit fun! These are only design prototypes, but I would love to see these little creatures on store shelves to encourage healthy eating habits in children. Move over Count Chocula!

Candy wrapper iPod docks (up cycling)

What a great way to take something that’s going to be thrown in the garbage (excess candy packaging) and “up cycle” it into something completely new, funky and practical! Merkury Innovations, the makers of the Eco Boombox, has teamed up with TerraCycle to use material that would otherwise have been thrown into a landfill, to create new products. TerraCycle partners with major retailers (like the Home Depot) to find innovative uses for its non-recyclable waste streams. TerraCycle creates affordable products for the consumer market including pencil cases, bags, coasters and gardening supplies. The Eco Boombox is compatible with all iPods and runs on your iPod’s own battery.

Unexpected!

Nike trainer box

This incredibly fun take on a traditional Nike shoebox is clever and certainly unexpected. This limited edition kid’s shoebox was created by inserting printed sheets into the inside of the box and attaching a sound clip where a crowd erupts in cheers when the box is opened. The concept behind the design was to inspire kids to play more soccer with the help of their new soccer shoes developed with the help of professional athletes for improved performance.

Converse 100-year anniversary packaging

Now here is a really unexpected surprise from Converse. In celebration of the company’s 100th anniversary in 2008, Converse produced 1000 limited edition sneakers neatly stowed in this one-of-a-kind package. Although this looks like an anthology of books, the inside reveals hollowed out cardboard sections that contain the shoes. This is a must have collector’s item for the devoted Converse fan!

In looking back at the products discussed over the last three issues, successful packaging can be simplified to the need for protection, functionality and accurate brand recognition. Creativity and out-side-of-the-box design is the icing on the cake.

As consumers, we have seen the past and present scope of packaging, but what can we expect for the future? Perhaps packaging will be more closely tied to the digital world or entire packages will be digital in nature? Printing rarely exists today without a digital counterpart in a variety of industries, so what’s to stop printed packaging from foraging through on a similar path?

I imagine a world where websites and QR codes litter the sides of packaging (even more so than today), with links to contests, additional product information and jump-off points to similar products of interest, all while parent companies gather integral marketing data to better position their products to consumers. Increased digital sophistication will allow for more tailored messages in a variety of packaging markets. Digital printing opportunities will continue to play an integral role in interactive packaging opportunities, creating customization and the ability to deliver to a market of “one.” In bringing together the tradition of art, the innovation of the current marketplace and technology of tomorrow, the future of packaging looks bright!

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Diana Varma is an Instructor at the School of Graphic Communications Management at Ryerson University and the Owner of ON-SITE First Aid & CPR Training Group, a health & safety company that provides training to the Graphic Arts Industry.