Forecasting the future

Design trends & designers

When people hear the word “forecast,” their first thought is that they’re going to be hearing about the weather. However, in the world of design, “forecast” has an entirely different meaning. For designers and strategists, the word has nothing to do with needing a light jacket and everything to do with creating a successful packaging campaign. 

What is a "trend forecast?"

Simply put, a trend forecast is a collection of insights gathered by industry experts that dictate what consumers can expect to see on their shelves in the coming year. This information offers a valuable look at customer behavior and purchase habits while allowing clients to strengthen their product offering to meet potential needs. Which, in turn, can lead to increased sales.

These forecasts have the potential to lead to great business opportunities, but how accurate are they? Take a look at the projected trends for 20211: A focus on accessible wellness, bold uses of color and abstract graphics, unusual typography, and sustainability are just a few of the predicted design elements for this year. Now think about the brands and images seen on social media, television, and at the grocery store. There isn’t a person around who can argue that self-care and approachable wellness hasn’t been a huge theme this year. Some might say it’s THE theme of 2021. The same goes for sustainability. Consumers are more health-conscious than ever, and a big part of that is ensuring the world we live in is equally healthy. People expect more from the brands they love, and if a company can’t keep up, its sales will suffer.

As for bold colors and surprising typography—look at the branding of Asian-focused food startup, Omsom. It has both in large supply and it isn’t the only one. Sparkling beverage company Sound, Amazgreens superfood powders, and Plot Wines seemingly also got the memo about attracting consumers with bright colors and bold fonts. 

These commonalities tell us that trend forecasts work. They can predict what packaging will look like in the year to come. And companies are listening.

Trend forecasting and the design process

However, how does trend forecasting fit into the design process? Senior Graphic Designer & Content Developer at boutique design agency, Vine, Brett Miotti explains, “The work begins as early as the proposal stage, where the Vine team takes a look at the existing brand and makes notes of the visual elements—logo, typography, color, overall aesthetic, etc.—that make up the brand. That discovery includes several conversations with the client about what they believe the DNA of their brand is. [It’s] during this phase that we’re also looking more in-depth at what design trends are emerging, being recycled, and so on.” Miotti—one of the experts that clients have the opportunity to work with when partnering with Veritiv’s packaging network—adds, “we’re always challenging ourselves to come up with the best solution to a design problem. Part of that process is having a healthy knowledge of the history of design, where design is now, and what’s on the horizon. Looking at trends that exist in the past, present or future is the homework of a good designer and helps the team at Vine create a unique solution that stands apart for our clients.”

Where is design trending in 2022?

When asked about some of the projected trends for 2022, Miotti points to vintage-inspired design, transparent elements, and tactile packaging. “Something more upscale or elevated might make use of textured paper, embossing, or other special finishes that are not the standard run-of-the-mill cardboard box. These elements tell the consumer, ‘This is special, therefore what’s inside must also be special.’ Meanwhile, transparent elements can also convey just that: transparency—what you see is what you get.”

Ultimately, packaging design comes down to the brand and the story being conveyed. However, trend forecasting plays a huge part in that process, providing the insights used to determine the best and most authentic way to communicate with consumers. Says Miotti, "We are packaging experts, but we love teaming with brands to tell their story and help them achieve the ideal unboxing experience. It's important for us to have the right tools to do so and that's what trend forecasting gives us.”  


1  McCool, B. (2020, December 15). Dieline's 2021 trend report. Dieline. Retrieved November 2, 2021, from