Simon Ellis discusses the challenges an ageing population creates for packaging design …
Longer lifespans and an ageing population mean there is a growing consumer group that needs particular consideration nowadays – and it’s no easy challenge meeting their needs.
So are brands properly in touch with this section of their customer base and are packaging designers doing enough? T he UK population is ageing and it is projected to continue ageing over the next few decades. More than one in six people in Great Britain (around 10 million people) are aged 65 or older and predictions are that this will fall to one-in-four by 2050.
There are also three million people aged 80 or over, and this figure is projected to almost double by 2030 and reach eight million by 2050. As well as an ageing population, people are increasingly living on their own. Last year market research firm Euromonitor International revealed that the number of people living alone globally had risen 80% in just 15 years.
In the UK, 34% of households have just one person living in them. When coupled with a burgeoning elderly population this presents many challenges for packaging designers. Product characteristics often dictate certain elements of the packaging. But this does not mean opening features should be regarded as a foregone conclusion, improvements can always be made. A product’s target audience will always be a key consideration, for example, the product may require safety features to prevent misuse by children.
But such features can cause problems for older users. A comprehensive approach to user-friendly packaging requires more than just opening and closing elements. The ergonomics of the product packaging as a whole need consideration. This can often mean instructions for opening and user directions. To ensure understanding of the task in hand, any opening instructions need to be communicated in a clear and engaging manner. An “Easy open” flash might tick the marketing box, but without explanation, can cause immense frustration to the consumer.
Similarly, directions for closure and storage need to be communicated effectively to ensure the consumer is happy with your product throughout its complete life-cycle. This will not only make their life easier, but encourage them to purchase your brand time after time. When making packaging that is simple to use by all, we cannot be blinded by form, without consideration for functionality. n