Video Q&A: Dr Bryce Rutter on Post-Pandemic Packaging Design

By Beauty Packaging Staff | 06.01.20

Discussing how in-store testers and makeup applicators should change to meet the new needs of beauty consumers - watch the video interview below.

Video Interview by Jamie Matusow, Editor-in-Chief
Text by Marie Redding, Senior Editor
Lots of things have changed during the Covid-19 crisis — but how will packaging change, post-pandemic?

Specifically, cosmetic testers and applicators?

Scroll down to the video below -- Dr. Bryce Rutter explains how product design should change, and advises beauty brands to take notice. “New sets of needs are being driven by the pandemic,” he says. “If brands don’t respond, they’ll lose market share.”

Related: Hands-Free and Hygienic: A New Breed of Cosmetic Applicators Responds to Consumer Demand

Beauty Testers Will Be Replaced By Single-Use Packaging

As retailers reopen after being ordered to close due to the Covid-19 crisis, shopping experiences have completely changed. Testers, sampling, and “play stations” are no longer available in-store.

“The script on retail is being written right now,” Rutter says. When talking about test stations at cosmetic counters and in stores such as Sephora and Ulta Beauty, he points out, “I can’t see those surviving, because of the cross-contamination.”

This will impact cosmetic package design — and Rutter advises beauty brands to ditch testers for unit-dose packaging and single-use products.

“We will need to think about the retail experience much like what the pharmaceutical companies did several years ago — more as a unit-dose applicator. So it’s a single-use product — I try it, I throw it away,” Rutter explains.

Rutter also envisions a ‘no-touch’ way for consumers to pick up a tester, or sample, during the post-pandemic shopping experience. “Somehow now there is a dispensing system that allows me to grab that single-use sample in a way that conveys that I have not been cross-contaminated by the last 200 people in front of me,” he says.

Rutter says he would also encourage manufacturers and retailers to think about sanitizing stations — point-of-sale devices that dispense a sanitizing “puff of vapor.” (Sidenote: Arcade’s Digital Sampling Platform offers brands a different way to connect with consumers.)

Pay More Attention To How Applicators Are Held

Ergonomic designs for beauty packaging will play a more crucial role in the near future, according to Rutter, especially for products such as makeup applicators. “Usability will play a strong role,” Rutter says.

He mentions one example, explaining that a user's nail length affects how well they are able to hold an applicator, and in turn will affect how well the applicator works to apply a product. More factors, such as weight and whether or not it is made with a slippery material will also affect how well it works.

Talking more about designing makeup applicators for a post-pandemic world, Rutter says, “Surface textures will become increasingly important, to grip. And if it’s too light, it won’t have presence in the hand…resulting in a lack of control.”

Plus, the right design will ensure the user doesn’t drop it. “It’s no longer the 5-second rule,” Rutter  jokes. “Now it’s OMG did I just contaminate it?”

See More in the Video Below 

How will packaging change in the future?  Brands should re-think design, Rutter advises.

Hear more about the ways consumers are modifying their behavior in a post-pandemic world-- and what their new needs are -- in the video Q&A below.  

More About Dr. Bryce Rutter

Dr. Bryce Rutter is a renowned specialist in ergonomic product design and is the leading worldwide expert in the design of handheld products. He once gave a Tedx Talk about the lack of well-designed products and packaging for older consumers.

Rutter is the founder and CEO of Metaphase Design Group, which designed several award-winning products and packages across various categories — including the ergonomic Oral-B Cross Action Toothbrush, Revlon Gold Series Titanium Coated Lighted Slant Tweezer, and the Gilette Venus Razor. 

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