Self Service and the Rise of Packaging

Over the course of the twentieth century, the concept of “going to market” transformed for American consumers as rural general stores and urban mom-and-pop groceries gave way to supermarkets and convenience stores. These new environments eliminated the need for sales clerks, relying instead on packages to grab consumers’ attention.

Packages made self-service retail possible and were designed to occupy a number of store settings including shelves, glass cases, freezers, bins, and even vending machines. New retail environments strongly influenced package design in terms of both practical product storage and visual sales appeal. Direct competition between packages displayed side by side increased the number and variety of packaged items available to consumers.