The end of the white background?

The white background has been an e-commerce standard since Amazon and eBay first launched in 1995. Today, considering that the perception of being unique is important to the marketing of a beauty brand some are breaking away with tradition.

It’s a brave new world for beauty marketers, where fortune may favor the bold and the creative.

Being different is better than being good.

We are looking at too many pictures. Most pictures are of good quality, many are beautiful, some inspiring. But in their overwhelming volume, they are easily forgotten. Each day the world uploads two billion pictures into social media. A paradox of the digital age is that it has resulted in marketing images that are rich in volume but poor in originality.

With so many pictures to look at we discriminate as to what is worth paying attention to. Data shows that we are narrowing our curiosity to basically two types of images. Those that are of personal interest and those that show us things we have seen before in a different way. It could be said that freshness is perhaps the most important characteristic that a marketing image should have nowadays.

With these ideas in mind some beauty brands are moving away from the venerable white background to create distinctive images for their e-commerce pages.

Aesop uses a modern approach to prestige marketing. The brand choses to get noticed for the design of its products, stores and communications rather than advertisements and promotional discounts.
Revlon’s black background gives a feeling of confidence and sophistication to the iconic brand. Thin and intense highlights on the edges of the products help to separate them from the background. The dark surrounding makes colors look richer and brighter.

Gutenberg chose white.

There are widespread writings on the internet telling us what makes the color white the most aesthetically pleasing and most effective e-commerce solution. Be that as it may, the causes that made it the industry standard were largely practical.

In the early days of the Internet, when connectivity took place through 28k modems, download times were a significant consideration when designing a website. Removing backgrounds from pictures helped make them a lot faster to download.

For aggregate picture platforms, like giants eBay and Amazon, asking users to photograph their products on a uniform background gave visual consistency. For retailers using a white background for all photography made production simpler and gave design flexibility.

Yes, the color white is indeed a fantastic graphic solution too. It was the choice of medieval monks for creating their magnificent illuminated manuscripts and of Gutenberg when printing his bibles.

Red Earth
Red Earth was founded as an alternative to conventional brands. At the cutting edge of marketing trends, the brand has brought the more informal images from its social media stream into the official website.

159% fewer “Likes”

For the past 24 years there were few who questioned the inherent branding and marketing disadvantages of using the same color background that the competition is using. Today, 92% of all e-commerce photography is of products shown on a white background. Dry dog food, tools or perfume.

Because the color is so widely used it is perceived it as being ordinary and generic. Because it has been used for so long it is also thought as being uninteresting. According to DataPop and Kenshoo “Search and Social Commerce Index”, a study that analyzes over 40 retailers and their related 2.9 million published products, an image of a product using a white background generates 159% less likes and re-pins than when using any other color of the rainbow.

Lauder creates the elegant illusion of their products existing in a three-dimensional space by using tones and shadows added in post-production. Additional pictures help create a more compelling presentation at the point of purchase of the product.
Lauder Skincare
According to Fortune Magazine, Emily Weiss has “quietly turned Glossier into one of the most disruptive brands in beauty.”
Products are shown with an unintended quality suggestive to that found in paparazzi pictures. The use of several pictures helps emphasize the illusion of movement and to give personality to each individual product.

Discovering what interests us..

When beauty brands shifted marketing strategies toward digital platforms it allowed to collect data not available to them before. From these records they learned that their audiences prefer marketing images that show products in a fresh or atypical view.

The thought of using the same type of marketing images that helped them get more “Likes” in the crowded marketplace of social media to other aspects of marketing was a quick conclusion. Each day there are more cosmetics brands that are creating e-commerce photography as compelling and lively as is found in the pages of magazines.

92% of all cosmetic brands
photograph their products
on a white background

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would help
stand out?

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