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Designed for aging Americans

Good packaging for older people is good packaging for anybody, according to advice from experts from four companies, including P&G, who weigh in on package design that addresses aging Americans.

The experts include the following: Art Herstol, the global hair care associate design director for Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH, who heads up the company's global hair care design efforts.

Liz Grubow is vice president and group creative director, beauty group for Cincinnati-based design agency LPK (Libby Perszyk Kathman).

Scott Young is president of Perception Research Services, a research firm based in Fort Lee, NJ, that focuses on brand and packaging performance at retail.

Dave Fiedler is the creative director of the Bailey Group, a strategic branding and design firm located in the Philadelphia area.

Baby-booming trend

The leading edge of the Baby Boom celebrates its 58th birthday this year, and packaging design has to consider eyesight that isn’t as sharp as it once was. Packaging World asked a group of marketing experts this question: “Are we getting to a time when packaging needs to more broadly address the needs of aging Americans?”

Herstol: At P&G, we are very aware that Baby Boomers are getting older. Eyesight is an issue. And we know a lot of consumers don’t bring or wear their eyeglasses when they go shopping, so graphics need to be much clearer. Type can’t be too small. There is a segment of consumers who have difficulty reading packages, and we hear from them.

It may be an option of choosing 10-point type versus 8 point. Sometimes it is the colors and contrast between the type and the background. Ensuring adequate contrast is important to consumers.

In the future, we need to edit copy, making it more concise so we can make the type a little easier to read. It is all part of doing a better job of understanding how the consumer shops our brands.

Grubow: It is another aspect of less reliance on words. Aging Americans are just one segment of the market. If you can make your proposition to be clear and distinct to them, then you can bring that to other market segments, too. If you don’t, it will hurt you. If the consumer is at all confused with what is on your package, she will move to the brand to the right or to left on the shelf.

Young: We’ve seen that the basic principles of effective packaging are consistent, whether the shopper is 25 or 75. In either case, packaging should be clear, simple, and easy to read. Overall, the drive to meet the needs of older shoppers will result in better packaging for everyone.

Fiedler: Package clarity is always top of mind, but the goal is to make it clear for all consumers, not just aging Baby Boomers. From a structural standpoint, you want packages to be easy to open. Also, the use of icons and photography can help communicate the core messages and lessen the need to read words, especially when the package is small.

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