Online brands playing by new rules
It’s kind of two trends in one post today. A colleague pointed me towards the numerous new detox juice companies selling courses of drinks that they send to you in the post. They promise things like clearer skin, improved immune system, probably a trim and tidy lower colon – all the things the contemporary urban groover wants from a health drink. As you can see from the packaging, this type of product has created a design sub-category all of its own; naked, white, sort of hippy meets pharma. It’s almost the design equivalent of ‘glamping’ at Glasto.
Do they hit the mark? Well, in the words of my colleague. ‘I guess I’m not the target market (he bloody is!) but what struck me was that considering how expensive they are, they all look very dull… plastic bottle, simple paper label (or screened on info), no sense of brand or even showing the fruit/veg that actually goes into them. If I was spending up to £345 on a 5 day course of fruit juices I think I’d want them to look a darn sight more impressive than these… I think I’ll stick to an Innocent smoothie!’
Specific aesthetics aside, this brings me on to the second trend: mail order brands that don’t have to compete in the usual retail environment. This means they don’t need to play by the rules (e.g. standout, distinctiveness and relevance are all taken care of online). So, this liberates the packaging to be as simple or as charismatic as it chooses. However, in the case of these particular packs, it appears to be all ‘naked simplicity’ and not so much charisma. The opportunity to provide home cupboard eye candy has not been taken. But as we get more and more of this kind of retail, I guess we will be seeing some pretty stunning design that would simply struggle in more conventional shelf environments.
The only challenge is if such brands thrive, they are more than likely to make the jump out of mail order. Which means the design is going to have to work a bit harder both in standout and in trying a little harder to surprise and delight.