Non-alcoholic drink packaging: sometimes what's on the outside does matter

BRIGADE BRIGADE, is an independent, woman-owned branding and design agency providing distinct creative solutions that re-energize tired brands and help savvy marketing teams take on the leaders in the category.

Just in case you haven’t heard… Ready To Drinks (RTDs) and non-alcoholic drinks are the life and soul of the party! In an era of unprecedented choice, today’s consumers expect more of the soft drinks industry than old familiar cola and lemonade brands. All over the world people are demanding more from their soft drinks — the market is getting cooler and more health and ethically conscious. If you’re at the helm of an RTD brand, you know how much competition you face on every store shelf. You know that your savvy Gen-Y consumers are getting more discerning in their drinking habits, yet still want you to retain that sense of fun that we all expect from our soft drinks.

drink package design

Non-alcoholic drinks manufacturers face a range of new challenges when it comes to engaging discerning consumers. And no matter how delicious your product may be, your product package design is your most powerful weapon in this uphill battle. Here we’ll share some inside tips on how to drive brand loyalty through precision-engineered packaging design for RTDs and non-alcoholic beverages.

The first sip is with the eye!

Your custom package design is your opportunity to reinforce your brand’s visual identity. It’s also your opportunity to stand out among competitors sharing shelf space with you. 

When a thirst-stricken millennial consumer walks into their nearest convenience store, bar or cafe they’ll be met with a wide selection of tasty beverages to choose from. Your packaging design needs to convince them to take a chance on your product. And you won’t have much of a window of opportunity to do it. Your custom packaging design concept needs to preempt and meet their needs. They should feel like the perfect product has been on the shelf waiting for them to come and pick it up. 

As we like to say… taste is subjective, the creative shouldn’t be!

Wear that all-important “health halo”

Consumers are now more health conscious than ever. But in this digitally enlightened age, your target audience is also better educated. Maybe in the early ‘80s being low in calories would allow you to market yourself as a healthy alternative, but today’s millennial shoppers are more savvy. They eschew artificiality for products with naturally sourced ingredients. They see value not in long lists of e-numbers but in rare herbs and localized botanicals

Mass-manufacturing is out. Craft alternatives are in. Consumers want to feel as though their drink was made with love, care, and ingenuity. That it was made by artisans using natural ingredients. Nobody wants to drink a hastily assembled collage of chemicals in today’s health-conscious drinks market.  

Make sure your design choices reflect this, casting a “health halo” over your can. 

Be bold, by all means, but consider a color palette inspired by nature. Adopt naturally-inspired iconography, but be wary of design concepts that look too visually busy. There’s a difference between eye-catching and an eyesore.

Simple on the outside, complex on the inside

A soft drink can only provides a finite amount of space, and you need to make every inch of it count. That doesn’t mean you should throw everything but the kitchen sink at your packaging design; there will be plenty of competitors on the shelf doing that already. 

You won’t make your brand’s voice heard by shouting louder than them. Let your design concept work smarter, not harder, to earn consumers’ attention.

Instead, consider opting for a design that’s simplified and streamlined. You can say a lot with a little, making use of contrast and negative space. Let your ingredients speak for themselves. This is one approach for standing out on-shelf, creating a can that is simple on the outside, with complexities on the inside.

Prove yourself (Insta) worthy

If you’re marketing to the millennial generation, you know that social media will play a huge part in your sales. Social media gives you the chance to demonstrate your product’s compatibility with your target audience’s lifestyle. Social media has forever changed the face of advertising, with targeted ads curating consumers’ exposure to products for them. When you choose a design that resonates with their tastes,preferences and lifestyle, you have the potential to create loyal customers.

Of course, it’s not just paid ads that can get your product awesome exposure. When you create a custom packaging design concept that’s harmonious with your audience’s lifestyle, a concept that speaks to them, there are great opportunities for organic social sharing. The kind that gets your brand noticed. 

Consumers don’t just want to consume a delicious drink. They want to make sure that they look good while consuming it. As this image by Harper’s Bazaar will attest. 

If you nail your design concept, your product can become extremely appealing to young consumers looking for a soft drink that aligns with their tastes and lifestyle.

Great design can put you where you need to be… ahead of the curve!

The RTD market landscape is crowded and competitive. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t incredible opportunity for brands that know their audience and what they want, need and expect from a soft drink. Great custom packaging design can position your brand ahead of the curve. It can place you at the vanguard of a new movement in the industry. A movement led by natural ingredients, bold flavor profiles, or inventive twists on familiar classics. 

An eye catching design will get you noticed by the people who set trends and influence others on and offline.


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