4 Lessons from Japan
In our previous posts, we had touched on the topic of Japan and Japanese innovative packaging design. One of the most popular single-portion packaging designs, the Stick Pack, originates from Japan. The simplicity and elegance of this innovation leads us towards asking what else we can learn from our colleagues living in the Country of The Rising Sun.
What is it that makes Japan one of the industry leaders in packaging design? Is it because of their well-known minimalistic style? Is it their colorful and intensely graphic designs? What is it that makes Japanese packaging stand out on the shelf?
Possible answers to those questions were found in an interview with Kuroyanagi Jun, packaging designer and winner of a Golden Award in the Japan Package Design Awards 2015. (Original article available here).
Lesson 1: Packaging is seen as an integral part of the product experience
In Japan, packaging is more than just a way of containing a product – it is seen as an integral part of the product experience. Jun states that people of Japan are seeking a physically and mentally rich life and it is up to the brand to help consumers enrich their lives through the products they buy. According to ideals of traditional Japanese aesthetics, even ordinary products must be enhanced with a “pleasant touch” and elicit certain emotional responses in the user.
Lesson 2: Food packaging in Japan has been closely connected to nature
In the book “How to Wrap Five Eggs”, author Hideyuki Okastates that ever since the Nara period (710-794 AD) food was wrapped in natural materials like bamboo sheath, rice straw, and paper-thin wood shavings. Not only was it practical, but it was also visually appealing. This appreciation of nature’s beauty goes on today: designers are inspired by natural shapes, use natural motifs such as flowers or bamboo and replicate natural materials like wood in plastic and polystyrene foam. Japan’s love and respect for nature also make the responsible use of packaging very important.
Lesson 3: Experience of opening
One more unique aspect of Japanese packaging is that it celebrates the experience of opening. No tools, no scissors, and no particular strength is necessary when opening Japanese packaging. This results in a certain amount of respect that consumers have for the packaging. Since they need to open it carefully it makes them enjoy the unpacking experiences such as untying a ribbon before opening a box and unwrapping individual items.
Lesson 4: Tradition meets innovation
Japanese packaging design is unique because it relies on ancient traditions and ideals. “Innovation and tradition should not be separated from each other,” concludes Jun.
We can definitely expect Japan to influence the packaging sector in Southeast Asia since Japanese packaging manufacturers are opening up businesses across the region providing global brand owners access to Japanese packaging formats for the Indonesian, Thai or Vietnamese markets.
If you produce single portion products and have already chosen the Stick Pack as a packaging form, you are already one step closer towards reaching Japanese ideals of simplicity and elegance. The next step is choosing an appropriate secondary packaging solution for your product, which needs to be as practical as Stick Pack packaging itself. Make sure to check out our Vertical and Horizontal cartoners (link here) built to accommodate even Japanese high standards.