Packaging is increasingly designed not only to protect the product but also as part of the brand experience. New and innovative packaging solutions have been designed with sustainability in mind, as Suunto's packaging re-design by Taitos proves.

Cheerful chatting fills the room when Britta Stockinger and Jere Lallo from Suunto meet the head designer of Taitos, Mika Mattila, over a coffee at Design Forum Finland head office in Helsinki. On the table in front of the happy trio sits the result of 12 months of collaboration, the packaging re-design for Suunto sports watches.

“There you go,” Britta Stockinger says, smiling, handing me the box. Opening experience has been designed to be intuitive, and Stockinger is keen to see how a first-timer reacts to the opening experience.  Well, it goes very easily. The cube-shaped box is covered by thin, smooth cardboard, which slips off effortlessly. The off-white overall appearance of the package represents a modern, streamlined design, where everything is stripped down to the bare basics. On the front cover is printed just the name and product picture in actual size, nothing else. The importance of packaging as part of the whole consumer experience has increased, says Jere Lallo.

“The whole thinking has changed. The packaging is not seen just from the logistics perspective, but the whole journey is important, especially the moment the product is taken into use. This is the experience we wanted to make the best possible,” Jere Lallo describes.

New innovations replace plastic

Taitos is an industry leader and has collaborated with numerous global top brands. The head designer and one of the founders, Mika Mattila, describes how international companies put more and more time and effort into the package design. “The role of packaging, especially with premium brands, is multifaceted. The package is expected to protect the product, but also help it stand out in competition with other products and offer the consumers an experience”, Mattila says. Mattila brings out the subject of new material options in the packaging industry. There is an acute need for many companies to find substitutes for plastic, and new possibilities are scouted widely. Suunto is committed to minimizing the use of single-use plastic in its packaging. The company has avoided excessive use of plastic also previously, but now the goal to reduce plastic was taken as a starting point to the design work.  Plastic is often seen as an easy choice and finding alternatives does require innovation. An example of a new solution can be found inside the package. Suunto watch is presented around a fiber-based sleeve, with the cord hidden inside, instead of using plastic-based foam.Taitos conducts comprehensive logistics and transport testing to packages using their own test laboratory, to be absolutely sure the fiber-based solution provides the product adequate protection during transportation.

New smaller size the result of co-operation

A functional package solution requires collaboration from all parties. For example, the manual inside the redesigned Suunto package was narrowed down, so that the amount of paper could be subsequentially minimized. With the right decisions and sound design, the size of the box was reduced by 35 percent. “Our customers have very high expectations for a company like Suunto. Our products have been designed sustainably to be used for a long time. Therefore, a compact, innovative, and high-end package solution fits that mindset perfectly. Unnecessary use of plastic would not be suitable at all. This packaging redesign supports the message the product communicates to the consumer,” says Britta Stockinger.