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Posted on 08/15/2022 | 5 minutes read

"Gen Z is considered to be digital natives, which means that as a brand, you have to rethink the strategies you employ and the business plans already in play. For this particular market, sustainability has to be a prerequisite, especially as it pertains to packaging design and materials."

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Your product packaging design is the first tangible connection that Gen Z has with your business. In most cases, the packaging is your first chance of attracting said segment of the market to your product in the first place. Unfortunately, this customer base is a tough sale. Reports by market experts indicate that they are most apprehensive about brands. To best engage Gen Z with your packaging design, it would be prudent first to understand its key characteristics.


As of 2020, Gen Z makes up 40% of US consumers and has spent up to $600 billion so far. This translates to a market segment that your business can simply not afford to ignore. The first step in taking advantage of this customer pool and specifically curating your packaging design to lure them would be to understand their key characteristics.

For starters, Gen Z is also referred to as 'truegen'. This segment is not as idealistic as the previous generations. Instead, they consistently seek out the truth, especially as it pertains to the brands they seek to engage with. What's more, this generation is particular about individual expression. They will be looking at how your brand is able to use its packaging to differentiate itself from the rest of the brands within your particular niche. Finally, this generation is keen on ethical and responsible consumption. Specifically, Gen Z will be looking to support a brand that is interested in adding genuine value to society and supporting causes such as sustainability.


While Gen Z has only now arrived in the market, it has been particular about what it came for. Its aspirations are already transforming the way brands like yours are making packaging designs. To get on with the trend, you need to be aware of how exactly they relate to your marketing strategies.


Research into brain behaviour and the science of happiness has shown that while Gen Z is largely hyperconnected, it remains conscious. What this means for your brand is that they are particular about the impact of your packaging and packaging design. As a brand, you need to integrate your packaging design proposals with safe and value-adding experiences.


Gen Z is considered to be digital natives, which means that as a brand, you have to rethink the strategies you employ and the business plans already in play. For this particular market, sustainability has to be a prerequisite, especially as it pertains to packaging design and materials. It would be best if you considered moving from the single-person use packaging as this shows that the brand is aware of the impact of increased packaging material within the environment.


While still only emerging, smart packaging stands to win you significant points with Gen Z. At its tenet, this type of packaging would include integrating electronics into the packaging of your product. For this particular market, they would view this as not simply technology but a necessity to their way of life. A neat addition would be to invest in an augmented-reality application where users would then scan the packaging and get to view animations, infographics or get involved with interactive elements on their smartphones.


If you intend on connecting with this market segment, you want to pursue collaboration. After all, nothing seems to irk them more than poorly executed packaging designs or wasteful over-packaging. What's more, they happen to be more conscientious and aware of the climate and sustainability issues we are currently experiencing.

As a brand, you want to bring this demographic on board. You want your primary design department to incorporate some of the suggestions they have. This is particularly since, for most brands, the marketing department will often be made up of essentially the older folk whose ideas most often match the older consumer. If you are to effectively address the market needs and the aspirations of Gen Z, it would only be prudent to include them and their aspirations throughout the packaging design process.


Gen Z can be described as wanting an experience, not just a product. You can, for instance, make the unboxing an experience by cleverly including fun jigsaw puzzles with the packaging. This would excite this market segment, which would hook this generation that is notorious for lack of brand loyalty.

You need to understand that they are the least forgiving of all previous generations. As such, they are likely going to be impatient about a poorly executed product packaging design. What's more, they are increasingly wary of over-packaging. As such, you need to capture just what is needed and not excessive details.

As you develop your package design, you also need to be aware that this generation expects and demands good functionality. For instance, if you are looking for packaging for drinks and food, you want to ensure the package designs you come up with can be reclosed. Additionally, consider the packaging/user interface as an additional step after not just simply designing a package that protects the product therein.

They are concerned about climate collapse, and as such, this creates a competitive advantage that you should be looking to take advantage of. Notably, a recent report points to 81% of this generation expecting brands to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship. For your brand, this would mean a strategic shift from a model in which return on investment (ROI) takes precedent to one in which return on relationship (ROR) is key.


Gen Z is a hyper-cognitive generation that requires brands to reimagine their packaging design. While it might be argued that it is not feasible to fully capture the market needs and desires of any given market segment, employing some of the tips highlighted above when coming up with your packaging design should see you earn significant mileage. After all, as you allocate your advertising and marketing budget, it would be counterintuitive to fail to capture what would most attract the population that makes up at least half of the current consumers.



Arc & Co. Design Collective transforms your brand messages into engaging physical brand experiences that increase your brand's perceived value and loyalty with your customers. By utilizing our proprietary FOUR Dimensions Framework™, we strategize, conceptualize, innovate and design experiential packaging and brand activation spaces that will complement your business and keep you ahead of the competition.

Get in touch with us to discover how we can assist in integrating a physical brand experience into your marketing strategy.


In summary, keep these in mind when designing your packaging project for Gen Z:

Gen Z are inclined towards sustainable packaging.

Lean towards emerging packaging solutions like smart packaging as these attract the savvy generation.

Consider creating an experience with each packaging design with the aim of promoting brand loyalty.

Consider collaboration in your marketing strategies if you are to capture the needs of the Gen Z demographic.

Gen Z is hyper-cognitive and are skeptical of brands and as such, it would be best to be truthful and upfront with necessary information.

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