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March 8, 2022

It's Time to Diversify Your Packaging

Jean Lin

As with the visual nature of beauty products, visual elements play a large role in consumer engagement and satisfaction— bright colors of an eyeshadow palette, striking images on a label, or even clever visual ad campaigns.

But— what about the other senses? Appealing to consumers’ sense of smell, hearing, touch, (and maybe taste, though that’s questionable), can not only make for a more engaging and memorable experience, but also make a positive impact on your products’ accessibility.

While beauty packaging has become increasingly innovative in terms of sustainability, improvements can still be made for more accessible design. One in five adults in the U.S. possess a disability, whether said disability affects one’s hands, neck, vision, and so on. How can someone with arthritis open a small mascara tube, or twist up a deodorant stick? How can someone with low vision differentiate between two eyeshadow palettes of the same size and shape?

To answer such questions, we’ve compiled a list of accessible-friendly design elements that currently exist in the market, thanks to “blind beauty influencer” Molly Burke. And here’s a hint: Novi can help you implement these elements in your own packaging!

Braille is not the only answer

Photo by Eren Li via Pexels

Braille is a tactile writing system with a combination of raised dots that represent numbers and letters, read by touching with fingers. While Braille allows visually impaired people to read product labels, less than 10% of legally blind persons can actually read it.

So, what can you do? You can create a set of easily identifiable, tactile symbols. They don’t necessarily have to be universal, and they can be specific to your brand. For example, Herbal Essences’ hair care bottles feature raised circles on the bottom for conditioner, and stripes for shampoo— C for circles and conditioner, S for stripes and shampoo. While it may not be universal, it’s definitely easy to recognize and remember. Plus, the bottles are still the same shape, size, color, and type, keeping it cost-effective; all it needs is a small customization request.

Additionally, tactile elements can also be implemented as part of a product’s visual design. For example, Too Faced’s “Better Than Sex” mascara comes in two formulas: volumizing and waterproof. The waterproof formula’s packaging includes raised water drops all along the outside, while the volumizing formula’s packaging is kept plain in comparison.

Fun textures

Photo by Ashley Piszek via Unsplash

Beauty brands often release similar products in the same packaging, and opt for changing the visual design to differentiate items of the same line, or items in a new release. Maintaining uniformity is important to a brand’s story, and also cost-effective as they work with packaging suppliers and manufacturers. So how does one tell the difference between products that use the same packaging? The answer: create texture.

For Maybelline’s lipstick tubes, a matte finish is used on the package for their matte formula and a satin/glossy finish for the satin formula. Again, it’s easy to recognize and easy to remember. Even if you can’t tell what color it is, you can still gauge the lipstick’s finish!

Enough with the round bottles

Photo from The Junessa Rendon Collection via Canva

Quick disclaimer: there’s nothing inherently wrong with round packaging. However, it can be a source of challenges for disabled people. For one, items can roll away when knocked over, and people with visual impairments may not be able to see where it lands on the floor. Second, round caps without handles may be difficult to grasp and twist for those with limited hand dexterity.

Fenty Beauty’s Match Stix packaging solves both problems. The angular hexagonal shape prevents the product from rolling away, and provides ridges to grab and push when screwing and unscrewing. The thicker design also makes it easier to grasp.

Accessibility goes beyond packaging

Photo by Tim Mossholder via Unsplash

Of course, accessibility in the beauty industry goes beyond just packaging: website audio tours, fragranced products, and much more. The best way to ensure inclusion is to hire and consult people with disabilities during your product design process. As with all initiatives for inclusivity, solutions to create more accessibility with beauty products should come from the voices of those within the community.

Although the beauty industry has come a long way, we still need to create better access and consider the needs of all consumers— for the benefit of both consumers and businesses. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) resource website, American businesses can tap into a huge and growing market of people with disabilities, [and in turn] customers with disabilities can gain access to services, products, and employment opportunities. In fact, the growing market of people with disabilities has $175 billion in discretionary spending— about four times the spending power of teens and tweens, a demographic most often sought after by businesses.

Explore customization options

The Novi marketplace allows you to browse, sample, and purchase all in-app. With upfront pricing, lower MOQs, and transparent lead times, we help cut through the noise so that you can focus on building your product. Plus, we work closely with suppliers to give you customization options that can help make your product stand out to the consumer base you care about.

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