Industry Info

Accessing Premium Style: Smart design strategy makes fashionable technology more accessible for seniors.

Posted: June 7, 2015 by
Danielle Beurteaux

Smartphones are no longer the purview of only the young and tech-obsessed. As smartphones have become the default device for many mobile users, brand owners now need to think of not just creating an attractive package that will catch consumers’ eyes as they shop, but also of accessibility issues for an older demographic.

Doro Liberto is a telecommunications company based in Lund, Sweden, which focuses on products for consumers aged 60 and over. Its top smartphone, the Doro Liberto 820, needed a package makeover that would communicate the quality of the product, whilst being accessible to its consumer base.

Seniors are a growing market for all digital products, says Todd Huseby, partner with Chicago-based consultancy A. T. Kearney, but they’re often overlooked. “Seniors’ adoption level is higher than what people anticipated,” he says. “They’re very much a growing market. When you combine that sizeable segment, in terms of number of people, with the fact they have more disposable income, they’re quite attractive.”


The packaging for the phone’s previous edition, the Doro Liberto 810, was a case of close-but-not-quite. The box wasn’t presenting the phone as a premium product, says Doro Hong Kong general manager Calle Krokstäde. The box for the 810 looked too generic. “Doro is a leading brand when it comes to the market segment of products for older people, so we wanted to go up one notch,” he says.

Apart from requiring a package that looked great, Doro also wanted it to be very environmentally friendly while remaining cost efficient. But the store shelf impact was a key driver. “It’s really about how the box looks when you go in the store,” says Krokstäde. “When you directly saw the old packaging, it looked good, but when you touched and felt it, it didn’t give a premium feel.”

Additionally, Doro wasn’t happy with the opening experience for the box. They were looking for higher quality finishing of the paper box and the pop tray that held the phone inside, and also a tougher package—the 810’s package was damaged during shipping—and a better fit for the components nestled in the box under the phone. And because the intended market for the 820 is international, which means different instruction guides of varying thicknesses and power adaptors of varying sizes, and they all need to fit snuggly inside. In the previous version, the components would rattle.


Johann Lilljebjörn, global sales and marketing manager of Swedbrand in Shanghai—which also has offices in Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City, Tallinn and Gdansk—says the first step was to research the market and package designs for similar consumer electronic products. They were sensitive to the needs of Doro’s target market, who need a package, says Lilljebjörn, that was “easy to open and easy to understand.” They presented two concepts to Doro, one a rigid box and one foldable. The final design choice is a hybrid of the two proposals, which they rated for eco-rating, cost, and quality.

The design is a white, thick paper slide-off sleeve over a white gift box, adorned with only a full-sized image of the phone on the sleeve and another on the lid of the box. The side of the sleeve shows an image of the side of the phone. There is limited text on the package, restricted to the green Doro name and logo on the bottom end of the box, and the required legal language for relevant countries. The sleeve measures 118x157x72.5-mm using 1200gsm C1S paper, and the box is made from 1000gsm C1S paper, with slightly smaller measurements. The result is an intuitive package designed with seniors’ hands in mind, with all the components stacked inside in the order they’ll be needed—phone , instruction book and the battery on top of the rest of the accessories.

In keeping with the green mandate, the package uses environmentally-friendly glue and no plastic. The phone is nestled in a paper pulp tray, and soy ink was used for printing. “It’s becoming quite popular to use soy ink,” says Krokstäde. “Traditional ink is still a little bit cheaper but now soy has become normal to use, it’s becoming the same price.”

Doro also gave Swedbrand strict requirements for the package’s drop test, dropping the box from on the side and on the top from specific heights, which Swedbrand did at its own in-house quality department. “In the beginning we had a thinner sleeve, so we changed to a thick sleeve,” says Lilljebjörn. “It was more about the thicker paper.”

Choosing a clean, image-centric design was part of Doro’s and Swedbrand’s initial discussion, says Lilljebjörn. “We thought the previous box had too much content on it, and Doro’s marketing department in Sweden also wanted a more minimalist and cleaner graphic design because it makes the box look more premium.” In addition, they took into consideration the potential problems their target demographic would have reading small type.


Because of the senior demographic, accessibility issues were paramount. Doro’s target group had difficulty opening the box for the 810, says Krokstäde, citing dexterity, stability and strength as potential barriers. “We added two features, one hole in the molding to be able to press it through with your finger, and a strip so you can pull up the handset,” he explains. “We need two ways to remove it because our target group has different problems when it comes to their fingers.”

There’s also no glue or sticker keeping the instruction envelope shut, to make it easy for seniors to open it.

Creating new package designs with a view to accessibility is an emerging trend, says Huseby, driven, in part, by retailers who are thinking of customer satisfaction.

“Depending on how frequently that customer is going to return to your brand, having a reputation as a brand that is packaging-friendly for that consumer is worth something,” he says. “A 70 year-old woman with rheumatoid arthritis is a decent use case if you’re thinking about packaging design.”

Another advantage of the design’s simplicity, says Krokstäde, is that it’s easily adjusted for different, international markets. “If we need to adjust the language to another market, it’s only the sleeve we need to change,” he says. “We can select later in the production process what language should be on the sleeve.”

The consumers’ interaction with the design should be an entirely pleasant experience from the moment they select the device off the store shelf until they return home and start using their new device. “It’s a very nice unboxing process,” says Krokstäde. “It’s very important that you get a very positive feeling when you first pick up the box. If you cannot find things directly, you’re already in a negative mood.”


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