The Social Insecurity and its Influence in Packaging Creations

The well-known argentinean designer, Adrian Pierini, creates an important and deep analysis about consumers in the new century and the influence of fear, distrust, the need of being alert and how this affects consumers behavior.

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Introduction

Those guys look suspicious! Beware they can attack you! Danger! Call the police! Run! Look! Don’t stop! The sense of insecurity lights up the human defense mechanism, influencing the way of perceiving reality and how we act. The sensation of fear and risk produce habit changes, emotional confusion and short time perceptions. This way of seeing the world, affects the most insignificant personal experiences like: getting dressed, eating, or more complex ones like planning a trip or moving out. Nowadays, many countries around the world are victims of insecurity. This article’s objective is to expose and influence, in an important way, consumers actions and how packaging must evolve to this new way of living and seeing things, by using different graphic resources chaining the relationship between costumers and companies.

For children’s well-being…

I believe that how children’s life has changed is one of the most notable examples of this influence. As I expose this issue y remember a childhood with no worries at all, walking and playing peacefully in the neighborhood streets, so simple but so enriching. No doubt, sadly this picture has been lost in time as a result of danger and insecurity.

Today, the fear of kids having the slight chance of being mugged, kidnap or physically attacked creates an overprotective reaction from parents. This prevents and interrupts the kid’s personal development as they can’t grow and experience life by themselves. Now adults are following closely children’s environments, creating several restrictions in timing, playing, friends and going to school.

Now adults and children are in the same environment. This fact that looks so simple and insignificant, has a strong influence in buying means and rentability in certain products, such as: bubble gum. 

To make this clear, a long time ago a kid went into a drugstore and purchased the offer that he or she preferred. This that might seem a small and insignificant moment, represented a important sign of independence in the kid’s life. In that moment he owns his or her ideas and is responsible for the item that he or she bought with little or not intervention of parents. 

But this independence doesn’t exist any more, now the mother is the one that imposes her own buying criteria towards the kid’s buying, taking into account products that have several nutritional benefits and that provides a better way of living. 

Bubble gum brands are children’s favorites products: accessible, fun and yummy. But parent’s negative prejudice about this product is growing day by day because of its medical and dental issues. That’s why bubble gum industries had to adapt and evolve their packaging’s showing and communicating to parents, in a rational way, benefits for their kids. They send this message by adding visible nutritional tables and dental figures like a smiling tooth, to reach parents permission and acceptance. 

Showing nutritional tables, images and phrases that show calcium, iron and vitamins is the new formula to reach out to new consumers and maintain the usual ones.

I don’t see, I don’t hear, I don’t speak…

The phenomenon of child purchase is an excellent example, but not the only one. The uncertainty has caused people to stay just the least amount of time in streets. They try to arrive as soon and quickly as possible to their homes, work, and other places. We could say that, in many cases the situation contradicts itself, because in one way the products can grow with publicity for example: in streets and the other reality, responds to a mechanism of alert and risk situations.

Now the consumer cares more about arriving safe home than fulfilling his or her needs. They try to be alert and identify threats.  That’s why new mini markets had grown offering products to casual buyers, showing seductive and clear packaging’s, with the aim of improving their uptake, stimulating consumption and taking into consideration the few time available the afraid consumer has. 

This means, in graphic resources, that the products are adapting to simple layouts, bigger and easy readable fonts and giving the image the leading roll. This was established like this because it’s been proved several times its effectiveness in an immediate way.

If I’ve seen you I don’t remember… 

Another functional and esthetic change that produces insecurity in packaging is related to the consuming situations I’ve named: social. In this new context the gathering of people has been transformed in a notable way. Day by day it’s becoming less normal to find friends sharing a conversation until midnight in their neighborhoods, with some beer, “mate” and biscuits etc. That’s something that used to happen some years ago. Today this interaction is given indoors and the casual gathering with friends has been seriously affected.

The insecurity makes people feel fear and be more rational and skeptical. These characteristics are introduced in such a way that remains in their life experiences. Its very interesting to see how this new imaginary of consumption is being installed in consumers minds and adopting in communicational pieces making reference to a more hermetic and selfish enjoyment. 

Before it was this way, now it’s this way…

As a result of all the negative views the people are having of the world, design companies had to recreate their packaging designs and it’s way of exposure. For example candies, cigarettes, cookies are exhibited in a more organized matter taking into consideration physical barriers for the consumers. In different words, today most of the mini markets close their doors in a given time or also they leave a small widow open through which the eventual buyer requests the desired product.

In several occasions consumers see the products directly, but in some cases it’s not so easily visible. This is a very important aspect because it shows the importance of the recordation attribute when it comes to packaging. Nowadays the client has to have a clear knowledge of the color, design, denomination and brand of an offer so that it succeeds in the point of purchase. We could recreate the situation in the following way: A consumer reaches the drugstore and tells the salesman– “Could you please give me a CHOCOLIN (brand) chocolate, the hazelnut flavor. It comes in a blue package with red lines and with an illustration of a monkey on the left side. Thank you”-.

If the good is brief, is twice as good…

Another fact that shows insecurity and that affects in some way the packaging industry and its consumer mechanism is the fear to risk exposure. I go on to explain: Until some years ago it was normal to seen families together doing the 30 days groceries in supermarkets, now that reality has changed. Today, big purchases have considerably gone down and although you can’t ignore that the economic crisis is a major cause of this phenomenon, the fact is that one of the main reasons that has influenced the consumers is fear of calling the attention of thief’s. A lot of consumers think that the amount of supermarket bags that you take with yourself is a clear sign of your social/economic class and this might make you a clear target for being a potential victim of a criminal act.

Today consumers do their partial groceries in a big supermarket, and then they buy the rest in different stores or mini markets. How this change affects the packaging? Well, we can say that in many different ways, in super markets (places with more space, offers, an environment for evaluating prices) the esthetic will be more amicable and seductive. On the other hand in mini markets (shopping experience that is more immediate and less positive) the esthetic will use a direct and impact language. 

Behind bars…

As I mentioned, the fearful consumer usually prefers to call deliveries instead of maybe going out for dinner, this way he avoids the streets at night. This type of delivering food is very common nowadays and is increasing by time. Thieves identify this opportunity taking advantage the proximity with the clients, opening house doors and entering to their houses and stealing their belongings. This fact produces precautions and insecurities, as we can see nowadays how people receive their deliveries behind bars avoiding opening house doors.

Cokes, pizza boxes, and ice cream recipients are challenge to make new and helpful designs that can adapt to barriers with out breaking or deforming itself. Do doubt thinking about this seems crazy, but although it sounds ridiculous this new social reality generates rare actions and ideas.

I show myself as I feel safest, not as I really want to. The social chameleon

The insecurity not only influences the buying method, it also affects the selection of products for consumption. In a fear context, people look to protect themselves and one of the oldest ways nature has of protecting itself is through camouflage. Consumers, as well as the chameleon that in risk circumstances they try to mix with the background so they don’t call any attention to themselves. That’s why consumers have to leave their personal needs and adapt to general purchase products that never reach the medium quality. In this context, some industries are significantly affected and their demands in product packaging are based on simplicity (they guarantee a low profile to the product for the insecure consumer) or an extreme seduction that overshadows by desire, consumer fears.

Leather clothes, watches, smartphones, innovative shoes and even more expensive things like elegant and expensive cars and trucks are affected in their acquisition. We are not talking about price, we are talking about the fear of being attacked or being targeted by thieves by showing ¨I have money¨ through the things I have or buy. Frequently we hear dialogues like the next one: - ¨I like this cellphone, and I want it. But a prefer to have this economic one, I feel safer with this one in my hands, with the other one thieves can steal it away¨-

Conclusions:

The current insecurity affects all of us, and allows us to live our life in a way that I doubt we all want to. But the future presents itself even more complex and products and consumers will have to adapt themselves to this new way of life. Companies analyze this new scenario with precaution and they study the way of dealing with the crisis as well as with the insecurity through commercial strategy based on convincing arguments and social studies that comprehend new customs, motivations. This way finally giving birth to a new generation of packaging creations that will be living in this new context and this way continuing to drive their brands to success.

By Adrián Pierini

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