Inclusivity in Packaging Design: Taking Action in 2023

Posted by CS Packaging on Feb 24, 2023 8:56:18 AM

inclusivity in packaging design - individual with fold open box

Packaging is more than a method to hold a product. For some, it means the ability to complete daily tasks without assistance. While package designers think of the shipper and the potential weight and stress of a shipping experience, it is also important to consider the needs of the individual receiving the package.

The outward appearance of the package can do more than draw the eye; it can provide information. Meanwhile, choices that may be aesthetically pleasing may interfere with other users' capabilities. For example, an adult who struggles to read may have trouble differentiating between items in a set whose packaging has the same shape, color, and print type. 

For brands, it’s more important than ever to understand why inclusivity in packaging design is important and to take steps to ensure that their designs, products, and marketing campaigns are inclusive.

Inclusivity in Packaging Design Should Be Your Focus

According to, “A key objective (for companies) should be to improve awareness and knowledge of people with disabilities. The paradigm shift will happen with greater inclusion of people with disabilities in our society, as our peers, and leaders.”

Some organizations have prioritized supporting inclusive practices and are even working with educational partners. These partners teach building a culture of inclusivity within their organizations through: 

  • Understanding implicit bias
  • Developing empathy for different groups
  • Recognizing diverse consumer needs iStock-1277574265


When it comes to packaging, companies must proactively design with an inclusive mindset to ensure everyone’s needs are addressed. This means making sure that products are accessible and that packaging is manageable for people of all abilities. It also requires understanding why inclusivity is important and creating campaigns and marketing materials that reflect the diverse customer segments they wish to serve.

Investing in inclusivity is indeed an investment in better serving all customers.  

4 Packaging Changes to Prioritize

Packaging, whether it is for sales purposes in a venue or to protect the product as it travels from manufacturer to consumer, must consider the user experience of the recipients. When it comes to access and inclusion strategy, the approach requires consideration of numerous factors.

Versatile product features, such as making it easy to open with either hand, should be a key focus of inclusivity in product design efforts. Other key components of inclusive packaging include: 

  1. Flexibility
  2. Intuitiveness
  3. Ergonomic appeal
  4. Desirability

1. Flexibility

Inclusive packaging design should be created with all end users in mind. It should be easy to open regardless of whether the individual is left or right-handed. It also should be easy to open at any pace or level of dexterity. 

2. Intuitiveness

Utilize packaging that can represent product differences without reading the label. Having matching colors for a series of products can be confusing for someone who struggles to read the label. Rather than using the exact same color, a monochromatic or complementary color scheme offers aesthetic appeal while differentiating between products. 

3. Ergonomic Appeal

Packaging delivery is about more than if it works, looks good, or stands up to the trip. Businesses also have to consider ergonomic appeal. Make sure the packaging is not slippery or hard to hold or open with one hand. Visual appeal might market to some, but useful design reaches a lot more people.

4. Desirability

Previous marketing strategies that focused on gender-targeted color schemes have lost influence. Known as identity appeals, studies show that groups in today’s society shy away from products that are categorized. Certain brands in the commercial industry have taken advantage of this adjustment, with Dollar Shave Club marketing based on the fact they don’t use strategies targeting females or specific groups. 

Even well-established companies like Bic Pens can take a hit when rolling out marketing that marginalizes the target audience. A campaign in 2012 marketing pens for her caught harsh feedback. 

Marketing strategies intended to appeal to a certain age group or ethnicity will also not receive the positive attention businesses hope to achieve. Instead, inclusivity in both product and packaging design means avoiding the targeted approach that categorizes your consumers. 

Balancing Protection and Accessibility

When it comes to transporting products, businesses want to avoid damage during shipping. However, it is important to consider both the protection needed to ensure product safety and the user experience for the consumer. 

While the product arrives safely if it is wrapped in several layers of protection within a sturdy corrugated box, the consumer may have to expend significant time and effort to access their purchase. This may even require assistance from someone else for those who are less dexterous. 

The optimal packaging balances protective measures with accessibility for the consumer upon receipt of the package. 

Expand Research Efforts to Maximize Inclusion

By taking a comprehensive approach to inclusive design, companies can create more accessible products that are usable by all. They will be able to better serve a wider range of customers, improve sales figures, and strengthen customer loyalty.

Companies can also invest in user research and testing products with a wide range of users to ensure that their designs meet the needs of all customers. Additionally, companies must incorporate accessibility features into their designs, such as high-contrast labeling and simple/intuitive interfaces. 

Incorporating different research methods to include people of all abilities can mean: 

  • Semi-structured phone interviews
  • Online community connection
  • Including people living with varying disabilities in a participation study. 

Consider reaching out to do in-home interaction with a variety of people to maximize understanding of needs and challenges.

Some of the most meaningful inclusivity in marketing efforts include: 

  • Focusing on straightforward presentation/optimizing user experience
  • Reducing accessibility concerns for those who struggle with literacy 
  • Use symbols to simplify


Inclusive Practices to Implement

Inclusivity in product and package design means expanding your focus beyond a specific age group or target audience. Expand your efforts to include packaging that makes accessibility a priority and flexibility a goal. Today’s society values businesses that recognize the varied abilities of society as a whole. Those who put effort into serving multiple groups see repeat business from consumers. 

Start the Inclusivity Conversation Today

CS Packaging staff are available to discuss potential packaging needs. They can direct you toward viable options for protective packaging that is still flexible and intuitive. They can also help you determine the best packaging to facilitate an optimal user experience.

Download the Protective Packaging Guide

Topics: Packing Materials, Protective Packaging, Industrial Packaging