Packaging for Millennials: Experience Seekers

Conventional marketing wisdom says the key to success is to customize your product to fit your audience’s taste. For years the biggest audience to cater to was the baby boomers; but, globally millennials are starting to surpass that demographic. In the U.S. about 25% of the population is millennials, according to a report by renowned market analysis agency Mintel. As this cohort ages, their purchasing power will also increase. Smart marketers have already begun to design their products with millennial’s needs and preferences in mind. Here are some insights on how to make your packaging a hit with millennials.

Millennials crave packaging that is stylish, authentic and unique.

The best way to customize your packaging depends on your industry, but the following principles will help you brand resonate with millennials.

Your brand should help your millennial consumers cultivate their personal brand.

A study by the Boston Consulting Group found that half of millennials ages 18-24 agree that brands “say something about who I am, my values and where I fit in.” Brands represent different archetypes and millennials tend to gravitate to archetypes that fit with their values and style. For example, Nike represents the hero archetype — someone who is bold and takes a stand. Whereas Dove represents a caregiver archetype — someone who is kind, wholesome and nurturing. Similarly, brands can make consumers look glamorous, sophisticated or eco-friendly.


Create packaging that is “Instagram worthy”.

Halen Brands Inc., the creator of popular millennials snacks such as Skinny Pop Popcorn and Mrs. Thinsters has nailed packaging to millennials. In a recent interview with Forbes, Halen Brand Inc.’s CEO Jason Cohen highlighted why companies should be designing their packaging with social media in mind. “Unique packaging design enables a social media play because millennials are taking photos of every aspect of their lives… design and style in product packaging is an extension of who they are,” says Cohen.


Millennials love to share photos on social media to enhance their digital personas. They often post “flat lays” — carefully staged pictures of their favourite items laid out on a flat surface. These images are a way for millennials to humbly brag about the brands they own, and the more attractive the item’s packaging, the more likely it will be included in a flat lay. Flat lay social media posts are common for makeup, jewelry and clothing. Pictures of food have also become increasingly common on social media, commonly referred to as “food porn


Meet millennials where they are–on their phones.

It’s no secret that millennials are constantly on their phones. Smartphones are millennials’ primary communication tool. And now you can create packaging that transmits additional information to the palm of your consumers’ hands using QR codes. QR codes, short for Quick Response Codes are the next generation of universal barcodes. These codes can quickly be scanned via an app on your phone and bring you to a company’s website, reveal a coupon code or bring you to an app. Use QR codes to give your consumers extra value. For example, scanning the code on the packaging can reveal a discount code for 15% off their new purchase. Similarly, the QR code could be scanned to bring the user to a video with instructions on how to care for and style your company’s clothing. When you use a QR code, include a strong call to action on the packaging that prompts the consumer to scan the QR code.

Create packaging that is customizable.

Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke,” campaign, launched in 2015, was one of the brand’s most successful marketing campaign. The campaign that featured customized packaging was a hit for several reasons due in part to its success with millennials. The campaign strategically prompted consumers to create and post content on social media featuring the custom Coke packaging. As users saw their friends and family featuring their names — they were inspired to go out and do the same too. In turn, this created a trickle effect, making the campaign go viral.

Similarly, Oreo, created its “color filled” packaging feature in November 2015, for a limited time for the holidays. In collaboration with artists Jeremyville and Timothy Goodman, the campaign allowed consumers to create their own cookie packaging online. Customers could create custom graphics and add personal notes to their packaging like “I love you, mom.” The custom packaging campaign was a hit that holiday season both online and offline.


More than 85% of millennials have a smartphone. Millennials are tech-savvy consumers who have unique buying patterns. It’s time your packaging reflects millennials’ preferences. Meet them where they are by creating packaging that shines on social media and can be scanned by smartphones.