Loughborough University
Doctoral Thesis - Nicholas Johnson - B318885 - 2022.1.pdf (54.67 MB)

An investigation into the design management & design practice for packaging design & development in the UK FMCG industry

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posted on 2023-03-15, 14:16 authored by Nicholas Johnson

Packaging design plays a critical role within the highly competitive, saturated, and homogenous markets of the UK Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry. Existing literature clearly demonstrates the impact packaging design can have on consumer response and decision-making processes and the ‘power’ it has in shaping consumer perception and behaviours. Whilst existing literature covers this extensively, little has explored the real-world ‘realities’ of packaging design and development (PD&D) within the field of the FMCG industry; and, the industry-facing influences and factors that can affect packaging design practitioners when engaging in conceptual packaging design activities. Prior research has looked to incorporate the perspective of packaging design management for the FMCG industry, but it has failed to provide meaningful insights into PD&D practice and process, specifically through the lens of the packaging design practitioner. The purpose of this research is to address this underserved area of research and provide more insight relevant to the design practitioner within PD&D for the UK FMCG industry. The research offers a comprehensive literature review covering a range of areas including: 1) Role & significance of packaging design for FMCGs, 2) Packaging design & development within an industry context, and 3) Role of the design practitioner to set a foundation of understanding. Following this, three exploratory qualitative research studies are presented with direct engagement with relevant industry professionals involved with the PD&D process for the UK FMCG industry. A particular focus has been given to engagement with packaging design practitioners.

The research identifies and discusses a range of design considerations, influences and factors that appear to affect design practitioners when undertaking conceptual packaging design practice activities within an industry context. This includes (but is not limited to) factors such as time compression of design activities, ineffective design brief management, siloed phases of the design process, and limited client-design communication channels, all of which pose a significant effect on a design practitioner’s ability to perform effectively. Furthermore, this research discovers emerging evidence of the tensions between design practitioners within design agencies and packaging manufacturer remits impacting the process. These tensions are in part due to a lack of understanding of design practice and process by other professions. These studies look to contribute to the existing literature by offering novel insight into packaging design practice and its management within the UK FMCG industry through direct involvement with industry professionals and their lived contexts. This hopes to build on the limited existing knowledge through the adopted through the lens of the design practitioner. Methods leveraged offer repeatable opportunities to cross-compare findings, and offer the opportunity for more longitudinal studies in the future.

Findings suggest that wider stakeholders involved with authority in the PD&D process within the UK FMCG industry should re-examine existing procedures, practice, and process taking into consideration findings from this research in order to potentially improve PD&D within its industry context. Future research directions have been suggested in order to build upon these moving forwards including assessing best practice for packaging design briefs construction and undertaking longitudinal case studies to cross-compare with findings from this research.


Loughborough University



  • Design and Creative Arts


  • Design


Loughborough University

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© Nicholas Johnson

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


  • en


George Edward Torrens ; Ian Storer

Qualification name

  • PhD

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

This submission includes a signed certificate in addition to the thesis file(s)

  • I have submitted a signed certificate

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