The word “inclusion” is increasingly on people’s lips these days: in the media, in the classroom, in the workplace, out in society – you name it. Basically, inclusion refers to measures or actions that consider, respect and value all people, whoever they may be.

This trend towards universality quickly spread to the world of advertising. Now, it is making its way into organizational strategies and other aspects of marketing, such as packaging. Inclusive packaging means greater ease of use for a greater number of consumers, whatever their age, gender or limitations. Inclusive design is embodied not only graphically, but also structurally, to offer packaging that meets the particular needs of the few, but also benefits the many.

ABCs of inclusive packaging

Inclusivity in packaging design is governed by certain principles. To be inclusive, packaging must be fair, meaning that it must be equally accessible to all users. It must be versatile, so that it can be adapted, for example, to left-handers as well as right-handers. As a guarantee of inclusiveness, packaging must also be intuitive. People shouldn't have to spend hours trying to figure out how to open a package or see what’s inside. No matter how knowledgeable or skilled the user, the packaging should be easy to open. Ergonomics also plays a hand in inclusive packaging: if it can be used effectively while ensuring the user's comfort and good posture, that’s a major asset. Information clarity is also essential. The packaging must communicate clearly, optimising legibility and being compatible with the applications or devices used by certain groups of people. Of course, we also want the packaging to be attractive to as many people as possible. We also don't want it to stigmatize people or be too associated with any one group, for example.

One for all…

Designers understand these principles all too well. In recent years, they have vied for ingenious ways to create 'general public' solutions adapted to the needs of the elderly or those living with visual or physical disabilities. The market is all the better for it, thanks to the development of ingenious new products. A first glance, these new packages are often more or less different from the original. And yet, on a day-to-day basis, they enable a whole host of people to feel more valued and validated, despite their limitations. Isn't that great?

Open, sesame!

Packaging often presents quite a challenge for elderly people with arthritis or Parkinson's disease; opening bottles and jars can be daunting for many. To serve this important age group well, Consumer Convenience Technologies has created the very first screw-on aluminium lid that is easier to unscrew. In fact, it takes 40% less force to open than a regular lid. How does it work? The lid is fitted with a small button. Pressing it breaks the vacuum inside the jar, making it easier to turn the lid. After use, simply press the button again to close the jar tightly.

Along the same lines, tubes of the analgesic gel Voltaren have been designed to make them easier to open for people with arthritis. In fact, everyone wins, because they're easier for everyone to open!

Photo : Consumer Convenience Technologies –  EEASY Lid

Seeing is believing!

The visually impaired can also count on advances in packaging, thanks in particular to technology.

In Europe, Kellogg's has put a NaviLens code on all its cereal packaging to help blind and partially sighted customers understand the labelling. The NaviLens technology takes the form of a simple square printed on the boxes in bright colours on a black background. Users simply point their smartphone at the packaging to access a wealth of information. They can then choose to read the information using the tools available to them, or have the text read aloud by the application. It's also perfect for people with reduced mobility, as they can be up to three metres away from the code to activate it.

There are other solutions for people who are blind or visually impaired. In cases where it is impossible to identify the contents of the container, Braille labelling is an effective solution. In fact, wine producer Bodega y Viñedos Maires has incorporated it on its bottles in its Ademán collection (Spanish for "gesture with the hands"). On the front labels, which depict gestures associated with various stages of life, there are clearly visible engraved dots that characterize Braille writing.

Telling the difference between a bottle of shampoo and a bottle of conditioner in the shower is no easy task for the blind, either. To make this easier, Procter & Gamble has adopted a system of raised markings on certain ranges of Herbal Essences products. With a simple touch, they can detect four vertical lines in relief on the back of the shampoo bottle and two rows of dots on the conditioner bottle. This practice also has the advantage of being inclusive for visually impaired people who do not master Braille, people who do not speak display languages and illiterate people.

Photo : Navilens –

Universally inclusive

Rexona can boast that its Degree Inclusive deodorant is the world's first inclusive deodorant. To design the packaging, people living with different disabilities joined the design team. The result is a universal deodorant that everyone can use. It is suitable for people with upper limb disabilities, thanks to its hook-shaped lid that can be opened with one hand. It's also suitable for people who are blind, thanks to the Braille on the label. So it's ergonomic packaging that's good for everyone... or almost.

Singer Pharrell Williams had the same aim when he created his range of facial products. Unlike popular brands that often target specific groups of people, his is literally for all skin types. Regardless of gender, race or age, Humanrace is simply for the whole world.

Photo : Degree Inclusive –

And universally positive

Studies show that companies benefit from embracing inclusiveness. It turns out that consumers are more loyal to a brand that they consider to be inclusive. What's more, according to a study by DS Smith, a third of consumers won’t buy a brand again if the packaging is difficult or frustrating.

For those who do not suffer from any limitations, the concept of inclusion in packaging may seem anecdotal. However, these innovations are literally changing lives by enabling people to feel understood and accepted with their differences.

PAC IOU Charter

Voyou Bouffe recently signed the PAC Inclusive Opportunities & Universal Package Design Charter (PAC IOU) which aims to encourage, develop and promote packaging design by everyone for everyone. We came upon this inspiring initiative during an event organized by PAC Global in New York.

The aim of the Charter is to ensure that individual differences are recognized and integrated into every stage of the packaging design and production process. By adhering to the Charter, signatory companies reaffirm their commitment to ensuring equal opportunities for all, to making packaging easy to use, and the information it contains accessible, understandable and usable by all.