Consumer Insights Drive New Packaging Innovation

This article written by Steve Callahan, General Manager of Perimeter, was originally published in Flexible Packaging Magazine.

Big packaging ideas are born out of three small words: A better way. When developing new solutions in the packaging world, we need to ask ourselves, “Is there a better way?”

Flexible packaging has exploded in recent years, and for good reasons: Lower distribution costs, accessibility of customizable solutions and less waste. But, we’ve also seen a “sea of sameness” at retail, particularly evident in the spouted pouch category. Baby food, motor oil, hand soap all have the same format but not the same consumer interaction. The spout offers consumers several benefits, but we asked ourselves, “Is there a better way to combine flexible and rigid structures?”

PouchExamples

Earlier this year, a new format called BlenderPak was launched. The format of the pouch is designed to increase new usage occasions away from home and invite more users to powder drink mix categories, such as protein powders, fruit drinks, nutraceuticals, meal replacement shakes or fiber supplements.

BlenderPak is a single-serve pouch with a rigid fitment inside that acts both as a gripping structure and mixing ball. The pouch is pre-filled with one serving of powder, so the consumer only needs to fill the pouch with water and shake. The patented MixingMesh technology helps break up the clumps of powder and deliver a smooth beverage.

Throughout the development of BlenderPak, we worked with consumers who regularly use powder in the concept and final design verification phases. Sixty-six percent of consumers of powder mixes use it away from home at least four times a week. Their feedback was clear; this new format will help them take their powdered products on the go more easily and, because it is convenient, they would use it more often and in more places, thus increasing product consumption and sales.

BlenderPakConsumers

During the development of this pouch format, consumers revealed five elements ideal for taking powder on the go:

1.  Make it Portable

2.  Break up the Clumps

3.  Cold and Fresh When I Want it

4.  No Cleanup

5.  Eliminate the Scoop

1. Make it Portable

With 88 percent of protein users drinking their powder at home, and 66 percent currently using it away from home four time a week, the powder industry is losing out on new usage occasions. People who want it on the go don’t have an accessible way to use it. For consumers and brands, it’s a lose-lose situation. One consumer offered insight: “I’ve craved it [when away from home], but I don’t take it with me. So I just skipped it.”

The direct-to-mouth trend in packaging has taken off in baby food and is finding its way towards adults, strongly evident in the adult beverage industry with the rise of portable wine and cocktails. Consumers reacted favorably towards the idea of drinking from a pouch and the new usage occasions it would invite: “I could throw [BlenderPak] in my laptop bag. I’d probably drink [my powder] more. I’d have this as an afternoon snack every day.”

 

2BlenderPak_3. Break up the Clumps

When it comes to powder drink mixes, one thing is clear – there’s nothing worse than a clumpy drink. Some users get around this by making their beverage in a blender, which prohibits them from using the product on the go, while many others use a shaker bottle to help mix up the powder.

Clumping powder is a problem that users face both at-home and away from home, and is a key insight that led to the development of the unique MixingMesh technology inside of BlenderPak. While there are many on-the-go beverage pouches on the market today, BlenderPak is the first with mixing and gripping technology. Another consumer says, “I like the plastic mesh to help stop it from being gritty and to mix it up really well. The cage gives me something to hold on to, kind of like a cup.”

“I like that it has the built-in shaker, because it’s easy for me to just go. This would only take a couple seconds, versus what I have to do takes a couple minutes. Anything that’s simple and easy to use is perfect and it goes with me.”

3. Cold and Fresh When I Want it

While ready-to-drink protein drinks may appear to be a solution, many consumers prefer to stick to the powder product for taste reasons. The ready-to-drink needs to be kept cold, whereas BlenderPak can be freshly mixed with cold water. Consumers said they liked BlenderPak because it wouldn’t spoil and could be easily stored in places like the car, gym bag, or the office unlike many ready-to-drink alternatives.

“I could leave some of these in my car. I’m not worried about it going bad. This is great because you’re not going to miss that meal. You can grab it and it’s easy. You’re not making a mess and it’s quick,” says another consumer. “You can have some in your car and in your gym bag, that way you always have it with you. It doesn’t matter if they get hot or cold and all you have to do is add water. It makes it easy to make better choices, rather than to have a shaker bottle and have to measure [the powder] out.”

DSC_0314

4. No Cleanup

There were two leading complaints when it came to cleaning up after powder. First, the scoop gets lost in the jug and consumers having to dig in the powder to find it, meanwhile a cloud of powder has settled on their kitchen countertop. More insight from the tester: “The scoop is always in the powder so I always have to reach in and shake it off. The powder always gets everywhere.”

The second pain deals with the shaker bottle. Some consumers use a traditional shaker bottle sold at most nutrition or vitamin stores. Many complained the bottle is difficult to wash and said they would use a disposable pouch away from home.

Additional test group comments included, “The biggest pain with the bottles is that if you don’t wash them out right away – they stink.”

“Having something that’s disposable is something that would be convenient in certain circumstances. I don’t always work out near my home or am coming back to my home.”

BlenderPak is a single-use no-cleanup solution and requires no extra cups, glasses, bottles, or spoons. We live in an on-the-go society, and a no-mess, no-cleanup solution appeals to many consumers who are active outside the home.

5. Eliminate the Scoop

Most powdered products are available in bulk-size canisters with the scoop is buried inside. The canisters are too large to use away from home, so many consumers resort to transporting portions of powder in a plastic bag or tupperware.

“It’s just more dishes and more stuff. It’s two extra containers that I’m carrying around every day. It’s a 10 second step but when you’re doing it every single morning, that’s the biggest pain.”

BlenderPak is pre-filled with one serving of powder already inside, so there’s no scooping and no measuring needed.

“The biggest pain is packing it up to go. Either you’re taking it in a baggie or a plastic container to put it in. It’s inconvenient to get everything prepared.”

BlenderPak.2942A Better Way

By talking to powder drink mix users about their on-the-go lifestyle we were able to discuss common problems, like clumpy and messy powder. We were also able to dive deeper into other problems, such as why ready-to-drink isn’t a suitable replacement, the freshness factor, and discovering the opportunities for new usage occasions at work and in the car. Ultimately, consumers told us that convenience is king. We look forward to consumer reactions to BlenderPak to see if, in fact, we’ve delivered a better way.

 

This article written by Steve Callahan, General Manager of Perimeter, was originally published in Flexible Packaging Magazine.

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