What makes Instagrammable packaging?

18 November 2019

Instagram is the internet. Once you've gone beyond asking Google or buying on Amazon, everyone that's anyone is looking at, posting on or watching things on Instagram. An incredibly visual medium that allows photos and videos of only-up-to one minute, Instagram has over a billion users every month, with around 500 million logging on and checking out every day. Users post annotated 'stories', short videos, and, primarily, photos and images, whether that's what they're wearing, what they're eating, or what they love.

For any brand worth its packaging, Instagram represents an incredible shop window. The very layout of the social media platform means that not only do the users tend to be very visually-aware, but it also allows users to create an appealing style that compliments its window format that encourages scrolling. It's well suited to brands, music, artists, foodies and anyone that values lifestyle. And with 'wellness' becoming more than just a trend and now simply how we live, Instagram is increasingly important for brand's marketing activities.

From start-ups to celebrity-led brands, from 'influencers' to PR experts, everyone agrees that harnessing the power of Instagram is crucial to building a brand and gaining ambassadors that go above and beyond just buying your products.


Shareable gifting

For US-based start-up beauty brand Pocket Palette, Instagram has been a fantastic platform for getting potential customers aware of the brand. A clever idea that fuses convenience with functionality, the Pocket Palette is a single-use trio of BB cream, lip and cheek tint, and mascara in brightly-coloured foil packages that can be kept together or separated by its perforated strips. Founder Lynda TC Peralta is well aware of how powerful it is when customers share their joy at receiving their packages, so she takes great care to ensure each order is packed in true Instagram-worthy style.

 “When developing the shipping materials for Pocket Palette, I knew that unboxing videos are a big trend and that's something that I want to take part in,” says Peralta. “However, due to the extremely small size of the Pocket Palette, I also knew that it would be a waste of money and packaging to make a box just for the sake of unboxing. So we got creative. We place the Palettes without secondary packaging into a teal bubble mailers to ship the products. Since I still wanted customers to feel like they were receiving a gift, instead of a bag or pouches, we include some other surprises in the bag – confetti, a postcard with inspirational messages and a note on the back, a seasonal item like a pencil in winter or hair clips in summer, plus two candies.”

The personal gifting approach to Pocket Palette's packaging means that it is perfectly in tune with the Instagram audience. Peralta adds, “Pocket Palette's colours are teal, pink and yellow. Since the bag is teal, we found pink and yellow candies. Lastly, whoever is packing the order writes a quick thank you note on the shipping form. When you're a small business, those nice touches make you stand out, because it reminds customers that there are real people behind the product. The whole order is finished with a pink sticker on the back that encourages the customer to shake the bag up and 'sprinkle magic' – and, of course, share it using the #pocketpaletteshakeup hashtag.”

Peralta is clear that she wants her products to stand alone as an effective beauty product, alongside its fantastically-shareable packaging. She says, “As a beauty consumer who gets sucked into buying things simply for the cute packaging, I knew that Pocket Palette had to have a strong element of cute to stand out and be share. We stuck with bold lines and variations of primary colours. The environmental aspect of our product is also super important to us; Pocket Palette is a convenience product, it's not meant to replace your entire make-up bag, but, with so many consumers buying make-up that they never finish, we save consumers from literally throwing their money away. It gets increasingly harder every day to get engagement on social media; people love to engage with things that are relatable, but also aspirational, so we post a lot about the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. Engagement is about putting yourself out there.”


 Authentic is Instagrammable

Organic Savanna is a unique beauty brand that has captured the inspirational element of Instagram, thanks to its commitment to pumping all its profits back into the Kenyan community where it sources all its raw materials, ingredients and workers. Founder Luke Kincaid is as passionate about creating fantastic, all-natural skincare as he is about supporting a community that is proud of its resources and its heritage.                                                

Based one hour north of Nairobi, the community that has built Organic Savanna is an agricultural area, rich with skin-loving ingredients like shea and herbs. “Our products are rooted in the community they're based in; they seem authentic because they are,” Kincaid says. “Everything we do goes back to the people that are growing and making our products; it can't be easily copied. We make sure we're protecting our environment and our community; we started when we realised just how much discarded glass there was and we wanted to find a way to use it for the good of the local women. That's when we decided to make candles and it's grown from there. Our candles come in all shapes and sizes, you might find some writing on there from the original product – it all tells the story. Our fabric pouches use traditional clay colour screen-printing and our soaps are all hand-wrapped with brown paper. We only use packaging that's locally available.”


The proudly Kenyan story of Organic Savanna is globally appealing, with Instagram offering a shop window to like-minded consumers wherever they are in the world. The feed includes scenes from the community, inspirational quotes and pictures of the products, which Kincaid claims are as effective as they are attractive. He adds, “Our authentic story sells our products. Instagram is ideal to share it; the further you can spread a story the better impact it has on our community. There are so many commercial products with no soul, ironically they often contain ingredients from Africa too, but they don't support the communities that they come from. We're back to basics; beautiful basics. We celebrate our community and our ingredients. Consumers can feel good about buying Organic Savanna.”


 How does it make you feel?


Feeling good is perhaps at the heart of the beauty and cosmetics category. Whether it’s real, imagined or fleeting, feeling good about ourselves and how we look is what drives us to buy. The current reigning queen of the beauty industry is Charlotte Tilbury, a celebrity make-up artist who has built a hugely successful eponymous make-up brand. Having built her brand on her professional skills and impressive celebrity client list, not to mention her love of the island of Ibiza and its glamorousness, the Charlotte Tilbury packaging is perfectly Instagrammable.


“My mission has always been to bring the magic back to the look and feel of make-up and skincare. All of my packaging evokes the beauty, glamour and decadence of the old Hollywood era, gorgeous and Instagrammable – but made for modern day living,” says Tilbury. “When it comes to designing any new product, the packaging design is a huge part of the development process. From ergonomic handles and slim compacts that fit in your clutch to easy-to-use products that you can scribble with and not go wrong, it's very important to me that every part of it is designed to be a magical make-up moment. I think about everything, from the way it sits in your hand to the way it looks on your vanity table, even the colours – Night Crimson represents love, hedonism and power, and the dreamy, ethereal magic of Rose Gold. I am so proud of all of my beautiful packaging, last year we were nominated at the British Vogue Beauty Awards for the most Instagrammable packaging too which was a huge honour for me.”


Charlotte Tilbury Beauty aims to deliver on Tilbury’s promise to 'make every woman the most beautiful version of themselves' – with the attractive, solid packaging making consumers feel like they've treated themselves to something wonderful. Tilbury adds, “Make-up gives you instant confidence. It's about feeling as fabulous on the outside as you do on the inside.” With the Charlotte Tilbury Instagram feed serving as an illustration of that philosophy, it's no wonder that her posts are shared in their millions and that her flagship Covent Garden store has become something of a Mecca for beauty addicts – who frequently post their visits and purchases on Instagram too.


PR shouts about packaging

Devon-based PR director Natalie Trice from Natalie Trice Communications works with brands as well as teaching entrepreneurs the fundamentals of PR through her PR School. She appreciates that catching consumers' – and journalists' – eyes on Instagram is great for building brand reputation as well as sales. “Product packaging communicates what the product can do for consumers as well as your brand values; it plays a vital role in your marketing and PR,” Trice says. “Get your packaging right and you're half way to getting onto the pages of magazines and in social media feeds. With hundreds of thousands of products on the market, some consumers will make their decision to buy on product packaging, and this is the same for journalists choosing to feature your beauty products over someone else's on the pages of Stella, Style and Elle, or the social feed of influencers.”


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