Looking Forward: Retail Product Packaging in 2021

Retail product packaging is an important factor in making consumers reach for (or, these days, likely click on) your product over your competitors’ products. With so many options for consumers to choose from, businesses must rely on signals from their packaging and displays to attract, inform, and connect customers to their brand in stores and online.

Since 64% of consumers say they will buy products right off the shelf without researching them if they like the packaging and 55% of online shoppers say that they will return to a website if their order comes in customized packaging, your packaging is an important asset for winning new and repeat customers.

If you’re not leveraging your resources to create interesting, eye-catching and structurally sound displays and packaging, you’re likely missing out on potential customers. That’s why custom retail product packaging is a valuable investment into your future sales.

Custom solutions for retail packaging serve as a unique extension of your brand. Different techniques like direct flexo printing, top sheet lamination and label mounting, digital printing, die cutting, and specialty cutting allow for custom displays with precise color matching to your brand and label colors in virtually any size, shape, color, or configuration you can imagine. These processes make your packaging and displays distinctive and place a spotlight on your product on digital and physical shelves.

To hear more about the benefits of custom retail product packaging, read our blog on it. Keep reading below for more information about the current state of the retail product packaging industry and projections for 2021.

How Has COVID-19 Affected Retail Product Packaging?

Before jumping into describing the rising trends in the retail packaging industry, we must first explain the impact of COVID-19 on the industry as a whole and on current consumer concerns to understand why some of these trends are coming about.

First, with online shopping habits having risen during COVID-19 and expected to remain somewhat high even after the pandemic, retail product packaging has become especially important to support higher shipping volumes and ensure that product packaging is both engaging customers and keeping products safe. Some companies have also been looking to cope with higher competition through marketing efforts involving their packaging.

But the pandemic (especially at its start) also disrupted some long-standing supply chains, which companies might continue to see the repercussions of with delays even now. Additionally, a larger number of consumers exhibited a higher concern about biosafety in relation to packaging (particularly for food and beverage products) in reaction to the spread of COVID-19, which is a trend that could continue to unfold moving forward as people remain more health-conscious even once the pandemic has passed.

Retail Packaging Trends for 2021

In reaction to the pandemic and other current issues like sustainability, companies are and will likely continue adjusting their retail packaging efforts to reflect the values of honesty, progress, simplicity, and nature. Here are a few of the predicted retail product packaging trends for 2021:

Neutral Tones and Soft Colors

Likely influenced by the current popularity of minimalism, stark and bold packaging design ideas are starting to lose traction. The color trends are presently moving away from sharply contrasting colors and closer to more natural or neutral tones. Although shades will always vary depending on the specific product type and brand, expect to see more dialed-back coloring and warm earth tones in 2021.

Transparent Elements

Retail packaging is more likely to incorporate clear elements like plastic product-viewing window areas in 2021 to reflect important ideals like honesty and accountability. Today’s consumers are concerned about information accuracy and are likely to be weary about (and lose trust over) any misrepresentation of a product by its packaging. This can be mitigated by the use of clear materials in conjunction with having well-explained, easy-to-understand product information and wording visible on packaging and displays.

Flat Illustrations

Following the trends of minimalism and simplicity, flat illustrations are expected to remain popular in 2021. These two-dimensional illustrations are not only trendy in the design world right now, but they are also practical and cost-effective when it comes to package label printing. Flat illustrations are also highly customizable to your brand image and identity, allowing this trend to bleed across a variety of different product types and industries.

Sustainable Packaging

As consumers continue to become more and more concerned with packaging’s effects on the environment, companies will have to continue to evolve their packaging and processes to be less wasteful and more environmentally safe. Corrugated is one of the most recyclable packaging materials on the market, making it attractive to companies for their efforts in sustainability. If you want to learn more about how overpackaging can negatively impact consumer opinions of your brand amidst this trend, read our previous blog.


In our technology-focused world, it’s no surprise that packaging trends are now shifting toward incorporating technological innovations to improve customer experience. Especially with tech-related products, companies are likely to provide easy-to-access references to resources like a website registration or product information URL in lieu of written technical instructions. Interactive elements like visible QR codes connected to content or practical elements for product tracking are also likely to start showing up more prominently on packaging and displays for retail products.

Jamestown’s Retail Product Packaging Design Capabilities

Jamestown Container’s capabilities for designing custom packaging allow us to create individualized solutions that best represent the brands we work with, addressing their aesthetic preferences as well as all practical concerns. Our highly-qualified team of engineers utilizes their expertise in the structural soundness and safety features of displays and packaging to ensure your products get to where they need to go and stay there, undamaged, for as long as they need to.

We know how to create eye-catching retail packaging and displays that give the honest information that consumers are looking for while aligning consumers’ largest priorities like sustainability. Partner with us to ensure you’re up to date on the latest retail product packaging trends — in 2021 and beyond.

Work With the Packaging Experts

At Jamestown Container, we’ve been helping companies make their packaging processes more effective and efficient for more than 60 years. From unique packaging designs to our own eVMI solution that automates packaging for companies in all industries, our experienced and talented team will partner with you to solve virtually any packaging challenges you might have. Contact us today to learn more.

Jamestown Container Companies has been helping companies navigate their packaging and shipping challenges with innovative solutions since 1956. We're a family owned and operated organization, and we're dedicated to being a partner to all of our customers from initial concept to the moment their products reach their final destination.