Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Nature Babycare and Pampers Diapers

When you have a baby, and you buy diapers, you stick with one brand. The packaging design, therefore, has two realistic goals: communicate the brand, and communicate the size. The cute baby doesn’t hurt either.

These have the added benefit of looking entirely different than other diapers on the shelf, and actually stand a chance of being chosen over a parent’s usual purchase.

This, on the other hand, is just as garish as any of its peers, so why would I choose it if I’m already there to buy Huggies?

The design of this is also based in backward thinking (the same backward thinking that has ruined Fisher Price toys and other children’s products): it’s for kids, so make it look like it’s for kids, or more specifically make it look like parents think stuff for kids is supposed to look like. But ask yourself this, if the graphics and muppet characters on the diaper are for the kids, why aren’t they upside down? Babies are flexible, but not that flexible.

Thanks to P*S* Reader Hilary Hanson Bruel for the images. You’re number one, Hilary!


  1. Anyone who has been a parent knows that the graphics are not for the kids. They are for the parents. And the photo album. Upside down graphics would not look great in a photo. It's all about looking good.

  2. Speaking as a parent, the only factor in the purchase of diapers is the price. Packaging is immaterial. Basically, whatever Costco is selling, ugly or not.

  3. Peter, if its all about looking good, then why does it look like total crap?

  4. Why is it so hard to find white diapers? Why does everything have to have graphics on it (that you can sometimes see through their clothes)?

  5. As a parent who wanted to use organic/natural diapers, they never worked as good as Pampers, or Huggies. I don't care how crappy the box is, or if Elmo is looking at me, or my baby, if I don't have to clean piss up at 4am, I'll buy it.

  6. Most people who shop for diapers would say that marketing plays little into their decision-making process--they want cheap and effective. Unfortunately, we're all chumps. No matter how critical we claim to be, we all have the potential to be marketing victims. It's a total bonus that Nature Babycare is competitively priced, effective AND looks good as a brand. BONUS: less environmental impact (which, for me, was the first criterion when choosing disposable diapers).

    Hmm...Maybe I'm just fooling myself into thinking they're equally as effective because I like the brand so much...

  7. My critique is not of the product inside. Obviously whatever works is what a parent will use. And I'm a parent, by the way. My point is that once you know it works, you stick with it and buy it, regardless of the package design. So there's no reason why the packaging has to be a blight on the visual environment.

  8. I was referring to why the graphics are printed right side up. And why there are graphics at all on the diapers themselves.

    As far as the packaging goes, most packaging is poorly designed, diapers or otherwise. Just lie 90% of the worlds logos are awful and 98% of website are bland and boring. Business is gradually learning the value of design, but there is plenty of room for improvement.

  9. I have to admit, as a HUGE fan of Nature Babycare diapers — and the person who suggested this pairing — it IS very difficult to separate the features of the product from the packaging, but here are a few of thoughts I had:

    - Pampers so dominates this market that I suppose the only job of the packaging is to make sure people can find it on the shelf. Mission accomplished, I guess. (But those late '80s colors, the cutesy illustration...ugh.)

    - Nature Babycare, on the other hand, needs to introduce itself as an up-market, eco-friendly brand, and is more in competition with Seventh Generation, etc. Again, well done.

    - Don't get me started on the licensed characters! I guess it allows Pampers to sell their diapers at a lower price by renting out your baby's bottom as a billboard, but in the end you'll pay up anyway when your two-year-old starts insisting on Elmo this and that, having been brain-washed since birth by her diapers.

    - Those little leaves are SO cute... if I wore diapers, this would be my pick!

  10. Even though I do think the Pampers packaging is garish (as most of this stuff is) I'd argue in this case they do a better job at communicating their brand.

    While I'd welcome a more minimal and modernist approach to diaper packaging, Nature Babycare one doesn't cut it for me. Their logo looks pretty amateur, and the type looks like it's trying too hard to be organic or natural. The baby pic is good, but I can't even make out what the other picture is saying... a Swedish flag and a leaf on top of some denim? I just think if there is going to be a diaper on the market that is going for a clean modernist approach, it should be more sophisticated than this.

    As a parent, I also prefer the photo on the Pampers packaging. I think that is is smarter to include the baby interacting in a loving way with their parent. Since parents are the ones picking this up, possibly this will strike an emotional chord with them?

  11. I would argue that the liscenced characters do make a difference. I babysat a girl who threw a fit if Big Bird wasn't on her diaper. Unfortunately, there were only five Big Bird diapers, and Elmo wouldn't cut it. If I have children, they are getting plain white diapers!

  12. Packaging is obviously appealing to different demos, and both do a good job of doing that. It's not just about pure design, it's about design for a specific audience. The recycling, left leaning eco-mom who spends more for environmentally friendly diapers wants to feel she's buying a socially responsible, high end product - ergo the understated little trees all over the diaper. The average lower to middle class suburban mom is more responsive to cuteness, and seeing elmo, or whoever that is, on the diaper gives the product a certain legitimacy by tying to Sesame Street.

  13. I blogged about this and someone who is allegedly from P&G left a comment on my blog defending the crappy Pampers packaging: http://seriouslybecause.com/2010/02/16/procter-gamble-should-fire-their-pampers-design-department/

  14. Andrea Foster22 May, 2010 01:29

    My daughter was born at Christmas, 2008. A friend had given us a pkg of Pampers, Infant size. Pampers tabs have an adhesive on them that sticks to skin. Within the first week, I was changing my newborn and the tab stuck to her delicate skin and ripped it off. I was shocked. I thought that her pigment would return, but she is 17 months now in May, 2010 and she still has a white scar on the inside of her leg from the incident. If there was a class action suit on this terrible design flaw, I would join it in a heartbeat. Shame on you Proctor & Gamble. After the incident, I resolved it was better to use cloth diapers with Velcro than assume that a corporation the size of P&G is capable of designing a safe and ethical diaper for infants.