Vogue Business:

The problem with refillable beauty


Smart Design has a long history of designing consumer goods packaging that centers on sustainability and customer experience. In a recent feature for Vogue Business, Tucker Fort, Partner, discusses the role designers play when designing sustainable packaging for beauty products.

Refills have been touted as a win for beauty companies to both reduce packaging waste and build loyalty. But it comes with a myriad of challenges that many brands are still figuring out how to navigate.

The process consumers go through to purchase and dispose of refillable packaging can be confusing and cumbersome, leading to low adoption. “These are new behaviours for people to adopt and a lot of consumers struggle over extended periods of time, because there’s more work on their part. They need to do extra steps that they wouldn’t have to do with traditional disposable packaging,” says Tucker Fort, partner at Smart Design, a New York-based strategic design consultancy that has worked with brands owned by Unilever, L’Oreal, and Amorepacific. Brands looking to implement refills need to offer “some other value for consumers,” he believes.

Patience is key, Smart Design’s Fort believes. In the adjacent food and beverage industry, innovations such as Nespresso’s coffee capsules took at least seven years to “gain momentum and reach a point of scale where it’s a viable business”, he recalls. “Oftentimes, brands and retailers get excited and launch a new initiative but they don’t give the system the time it needs for people to really understand it and adopt it as a regular product.”


Read the full article in Vogue Business.

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May 2023