Millennials and Gen Z have more power than ever these days when it comes to purchasing power. When they buy a product, they expect much more than just the product they buy; they want an experience! Their generational values differ in respect to older Baby Boomer and Gen X values in that they collaborate more, often increasingly in person, and they see new opportunity in changes, even expecting them.

In applying this to product marketing, think about walking down the aisles of your grocery store. In earlier years, buyers had less choice and became routinized to the products they searched for. Now, it’s quite easy to become overwhelmed by the number of choices you see for many products available today. Normally, any product we choose would satisfy our demands, but with so many choices, this just isn’t the case as we have no recourse except to narrow down the slew of choices before us.

Considering the values of these next generations then, there are many more criteria to think about when purchasing a product. Packaging must appeal in more ways than just satisfying the basic need of the Gen Y or Z buyer. This, then, is the factor that will help us break through to these generations and win their dollar.

We have tools available to us to help us target Gen Y and Gen Z in product packaging design. Here are some of them:

Create a limited-edition version of your packaging

Exclusivity gives a feeling of prestige which is one of the many important factors in marketing. A limited-edition version of a favorite brand will give Gen Y and Z this sense. Brands can offer a limited-edition version of their product(s) to stay relevant within seasonal or promotional events. An example of a seasonal limited-edition is when The Martin Agency designed and developed customizable packaging for Oreo Cookies. Users can log on to Oreo’s website and choose from a variety of illustrated designs done exclusively for Oreo by artists Jeremyville and Timothy Goodman. You can color them digitally, adjust pattern size, or even order a blank pack then color them with markers. These must-have snacks are only available during the holiday season.

For the 2012 Olympics in London, Coca-Cola rolled out limited-edition aluminum bottles that featured the Olympic logo and colors related to specific campaigns such as the Torch Relay, or the Move to the Beat campaign.

Other brands have used limited-edition packaging to highlight endeavors like breast cancer awareness. Campbell’s Soup changed the label on some of their soup cans to pink and white to show their support for the cause during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Custom Oreo Packaging

Support cause marketing

With climate change becoming a greater concern for many millennials and Gen Z-ers, they are drawn to packaging that reflects those concerns. Eco-friendly packaging and organic products are becoming a staple of this group. Statistics show that 91 percent of Gen Y and Z now prefer a brand that engages in cause marketing.

A household cleaning product brand, Method, currently offers bottles made with ocean plastic and recycled plastic and feature designs from visionary women. The Method brand won the company editor’s choice in the 2013 Dieline Package Design Awards for its aesthetic appeal and its sustainability.


Millennials and Gen Z often adopt new technology and ideas early. They want products that adapt to their rapidly evolving needs. Convenience often drives much of this considering they are 31 percent more likely to use a smartphone when shopping.

With products like the Nessie Pasta Spoon, shaped like the Loch Ness Monster that stands on its own in the pasta or on the countertop to apply-with-one-hand-only bandages from BANDiful, these types of innovational products grab the attention of millennials and Gen Z.


Personalize your packaging

Many in the millennial and Gen Z generations prefer a personalized look in their brands. This goes back to the exclusive feeling of prestige understandably because a personalized product is unique to the singular customer who purchased it. No one else could possibly have the same one. Often, this can also connect to cause that tells a unique story, highlighting that brand’s value. A great example is Amarula Cream liqueur that featured 400,000 limited-edition bottles with beautiful, randomly generated labels printed by an HP Indigo digital press that represented 400,000 African elephants estimated to remain in the wild. The campaign, “Name Them, Same Them” generated awareness in which people could customize and share digital African elephants online. This allowed customers a special, personalized buying experience that gave them the opportunity to generate a label to match their own personality.

In Studies & Trends—October 2018, Edelman conducted a brand study and found the following:

  • 59% of all consumers in the U.S. believe that brands have better ideas for solving our country’s problems than our government
  • A majority (60 percent) of respondents say brands should make it easier to see what their values and positions on important issues are when they are about to make a purchase
  • 56 percent of people believe that marketers spend too much time looking for ways to force them to pay attention to their messages and not enough time thinking of ways to make them want to pay attention
  • At 45 percent, a brand communication delivered on earned media — a combination of social and mainstream media – was more successful in engaging consumers’ attention than paid advertising (29 percent) and owned media (25 percent)

Social Movements Good Night Out #nowyougno

  • Produced by Yellow Dog BrewingMoody AlesTwin Sails Brewing, and Parkside Brewery
  • Each can unique
  • Variable Data: 75 messages that 75 different messages, with reminders that “consent is ongoing, enthusiastic, and mandatory” printed on every can of Good Night Out
  • Imbibers were encouraged to share images of their cans using the hashtag #nowyougno on Instagram
  • 4 packs were sold for $16.50
#nowyougno campaign
Good Night Out Campaign graphic

Festivals-19th Annual Schlafly Stout & Oyster Festival

  • Special Schlafly Oyster Stout produced that was complementary to the oysters’ briny buttery taste.
  • 80,000 Oysters flown in for the event from different areas for a variety of flavors
  • 25 champion shuckers competed
  • In recognition of all the hard work the shuckers do each year, Schlafly honored eight shuckers with their pictures and profiles on the cans of the Oyster Stout.
  • Social media spike for the brand
Oyster Stout Campaign Cans

Millennials are a hard and tricky generation to crack, but if you do, the rewards are potentially massive, and using the earlier mentioned tools to engage millennials will help increase a brand’s market share and sales. Traco Packaging can help you do this by helping you create original limited editions to reach your millennial audience. To get your limited edition project started now, contact Traco Packaging at 800-284-9727/801-225-8040 or visit