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.”

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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.

“Don’t Baby Me”: A Consumer Insights Study on Beauty Wipes Packaging

This article was originally published in the Fall 2013 issue of Household & Personal Care Wipes – a supplement to Happi magazine and Nonwovens Industry magazine.

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If we listen to consumers, they will tell us everything we need to know to create better packaging solutions. In the last year, Perimeter Brand Packaging has connected with over 10,000 consumers on a variety of topics, including a series of consumer insights studies focusing on personal care and beauty wipes. The research led to three unique wipes packaging solutions recently launched by Perimeter.

This study centered on beauty wipes, because the wipes industry, although a mature market, is still growing annually. According to Euromonitor, the wipes market was estimated at $2.49 billion in 2012 and the industry is expected to grow to $2.92 billion by 2017. While the personal care market is dominated by baby wipes sales, the growth rate for personal care wipes (wipes for makeup removal, skin care, intimate care, etc.) is keeping pace. The personal care wipes market is expected to grow from $313 million in 2012 to $353 million by 2017.

The consumers that participated in Perimeter Brand Packaging’s wipes study were female consumers who used wipes regularly for makeup removal and skin care, and used beauty wipes outside the home at least three times a week. Research participants were asked to bring beauty wipes they regularly use to each session for discussion.

Perimeter found that the top three characteristics that consumers look for in beauty wipes packaging are the exact same three that they felt beauty wipes packaging was failing them.

Those three characteristics that consumers want but feel are failing them are:

  1. Moisture retention
  2. Easy dispensability
  3. Portability

With these top three insights in mind, Perimeter sought to probe consumers on their perceptions about moisture retention, dispensability and portability with their current wipes packaging solutions. These studies revealed five key insights:

The key insights from this study are:

  1. Fix the Dry-Out
  2. Take it On-the-Go
  3. Don’t Baby Me
  4. Double Up
  5. Retail Insights Matter Too

1. Fix the Dry-Out

It’s not complicated, wet wipes should stay wet. Unfortunately, the classic problem with most wet wipe products is the dry-out. One after another, consumers pointed out that the number one problem with their beauty wipes, particularly with the stick-on flap closure, was that they dry out before they have finished using the product, which results in the need to throw unused product away.

“I don’t like the sticky top. They get so un-sticky so easily. You can see here that I didn’t put the sticky part on correctly and I have it backwards,” said one consumer pointing to her wipes with a stick-on flap closure. “If I left it that way they would get un-sticky and then I would have to put tape across it to keep it closed.”

“My wipes dry out easier with [the sticky flap] top, because if you don’t stick it on exactly right air gets in there and they’re not as moist,” said another consumer.

Many research participants admitted to resorting to tape to help keep their beauty wipes packaging closed. The consumers consistently felt that a hard plastic top was superior to maintaining moisture and preventing dry-out due to the audible click.

I like the hard top,” said another consumer. “Because then you know – snap – it’s closed.”

2.    Take it On-The-Go

It’s a well-established fact that consumers are on the move, constantly. Beauty wipes are being used about three times daily away from the home, often used in the car, gym/beach bag, and while traveling.

“My life is chaos. That’s why I use products on-the-go. It’s really important for me that things are simple, easy and convenient,” said one consumer. “I keep these in my car, my purse, and in my backpack. If I don’t have a shower or sink available it’s nice to clean up and look like I’m not ragged.”

The current packaging for beauty wipes is not conducive to consumers’ increasingly mobile lifestyle.  When asked about packaging for beauty wipes on the go, consumers are looking for packaging that is not only portable, but prevents waste, maintains moisture, and provides easy access to wipes.

Consumers said that the sticky flap closure, seen on most beauty wipes packaging today, required too much attention to close properly while on the go, but also that debris from inside their purse or bag often prevented the sticky closure flap to seal properly.

If it’s not properly secured it’s ruined. Beauty wipes are very expensive. Then I feel like I wasted it all,” said one consumer.

3.    Don’t Baby Me

Although many consumers prefer the functionality of the hard top versus the stick-on flap closure, for some the association of the packaging with the hard top was too similar to well-known baby wipes packaging and did not provide the experience they wanted when using cosmetic and skin care wipes.

“It’s just like a baby wipe – the packaging. And it feels kind of childish,” said one consumer. “As an adult using it on myself, I associate it with a baby or with baby wipes.”

Other consumers felt that the current packaging for beauty wipes is not discreet for their on-the-go lifestyle because it looked like baby wipes, not cosmetic wipes.

Another consumer said, “I feel like if I take this one out [in a public place] people are thinking ‘what are you using those baby wipes for?’”

With the expected rise in popularity of flushable moist wipes for adults, and recent market introduction of feminine hygiene wipes and intimate care wipes, we can only expect the association of baby and flushable adult wipes versus cosmetic and facial care wipes packaging to become more solidified in the mind of the consumer.

With current packaging offerings consumers are forced to choose if they would rather have the hard-top, which they feel better maintains moisture but makes them feel like they are using baby wipes, or the stick-on flap closure, which they feels dried out more quickly but feels like they are using a beauty wipe.

My first instinct when it opens this way is that it’s probably more of a baby wipe,” said a consumer pointing to a hard top package for beauty wipes. “But for some reason I feel like the sticky top dries out more quickly than the ‘baby wipe style pack’ does. Maybe it’s the plastic covering because it’s always shut and you can hear it snap so you know it’s closed.”

Pebble

This knowledge led to Perimeter’s development of Pebble, an on-the-go beauty wipes dispenser reminiscent of the classic cosmetic case – a far cry from the diaper-association. Pebble performs in preventing dry-out and providing consumers with an audible click to reassure a tight moisture seal, but the consumer’s strong association to the makeup compact and away from a baby wipes style packaging is what made this product a success with consumers during our product testing.

4.    Double the Wipes

Many consumers use more than one type of wipe – ranging from makeup removal, skin care, personal care or anti-bacterial wipes. Some consumers who depend on wipes for washing their face see it as a two-step process.

I’m going to use one to remove makeup and another one to clean the rest,” said a consumer. “So the first is like a makeup remover and the second wipe is a cleanse.”

This was problematic for the study participants who relied on travel-size packs, some of which hold as little as five or seven wipes.

 “A lot of times with makeup removal and cleansing wipes I might have to use two of them so I run out of them more quickly than I would normally,” said a consumer. “I wouldn’t mind a bigger package if more came in them.”

webster

This feedback led to the development of Webster, a dual-dispensing clutch-style wipes dispenser that opens like a book. Webster provides the option of two separate wipes that are often used together, like makeup remover and skin care wipes, in one package.

5.    Retail Insights Matter Too

While consumer insights are a key driver in unlocking new ways to packaging innovation, there are other factors that also need to be taken into account. For example, throughout our investigation of beauty wipes, we also studied current in-market solutions and on-shelf presentation at retail. We found a sea-of-packaging-sameness that magnifies the challenges communicated by consumers.

Most current packaging solutions offer limited branding real estate and don’t present well at retail because they easily slouch or fall over. In addition, we noted that many current packaging solutions required a secondary piece of packaging like a cardboard container just to get the product to stand up straight.

standup

With this in mind we developed Standup. Standup is a wipes dispenser that independently stands up on shelf, eliminating the need for a secondary piece of packaging. The off-center pull allows for easier handling and dispensability and offsets that dreaded baby-wipe feel.

Taking the time to connect with consumers and listen will give you crucial insight to the consumer’s relationship with packaging. By speaking to beauty wipe users, Perimeter was able to delve into more commonly known issues, like consistent dry-out and non-portable solutions, but also learn about subtle nuances of consumer habits, like the perception of baby-wipes packaging and usability challenges like doubling up on wipes.

If you listen carefully to consumers, you will find all the information you need to know to create innovative packaging. With the market and interest in beauty wipes consistently growing, it’s only a matter of time before one brand pulls ahead of the rest through packaging innovation. 

SteveCallahanWith over 25 years of experience in product design and innovation leadership, Steve brings valuable strategic insight to the new product development challenges facing the CPG brand packaging marketplace. Steve is the President of Perimeter Brand Packaging and a frequent speaker at leading industry conferences and a published writer on packaging design and innovation. Prior to Perimeter, he founded and ran Radius Product Development for 15 years, an award-winning industrial design firm with locations in Boston, Chicago, Copenhagen, Hong Kong, and Beijing, until selling it in 2007.

This article was originally published in the Fall 2013 issue of Household & Personal Care Wipes – a supplement to Happi magazine and Nonwovens Industry magazine.

Packaging Created of the People, for the People

This article was originally written for and published in the August 2013 issue of BrandPackaging by Steve Callahan, President of Perimeter Brand Packaging.

Packaging Created of the People, for the People

Lessons in packaging satisfaction learned from listening to 10,000 consumers.

If we listen and watch closely, consumers will tell us many of the things we need to know when it comes to creating great packaging. Connecting with everyday people is critical to providing packaging solutions that will deliver satisfaction throughout the entire life of a product. Far too many packages succeed in achieving in-store recognition by delivering visual aesthetics but then fail to satisfy consumers throughout the rest of the product’s life at home. While shelf appeal is a crucial part of getting products into the hands of consumers, many brands experience tunnel vision: prioritizing aesthetics while the packaging performance and functionality flounder.

Earlier this year, MeadWestvaco released a study on consumer packaging satisfaction. The results were fascinating. The packaging aspects consumers cared about the most are also where they felt least satisfied. Shelf-appeal characteristics like attractiveness and findability were over-delivering to consumers. Well-designed structural features — product protection, ability to open and close the packaging, and ease of storage — were highly desired by consumers, but the current packaging came up short in those areas. (For the full study, visit www.mwv.com/packagingmatters.)

After talking to 10,000 consumers about packaging, including over 100 hours of one-on-one sessions and in-home investigation, here are three key takeaways from our recent qualitative and quantitative studies.

DSC_5033Perimeter

1. IT’S HARD TO CHANGE FIRST IMPRESSIONS

In the mind of the consumer, perception is reality — even if our packaging engineers and scientific research say otherwise. A crucial part of consumer insights is determining what consumers think is important and how those consumers will interpret a package even before they use it. Even when presented with two concepts that perform equally well, consumers will equate the performance to their emotional connections and perceptions of how the packaging performs — whether it’s sturdiness, ability to maintain moisture or reassurance of product protection.

No amount of concrete data will reverse their natural reaction. This is why it’s crucial to develop packaging that works well and makes a positive connection with the consumer’s internal perception.

We’ve seen this firsthand in our own testing. In one example, consumers were presented with two packaging concepts designed to pour powder-like dry goods. The only difference between the concepts was the shape of the spout, but we learned that this was all it took for them to form an opinion of which one they absolutely preferred. One of the spouts consistently scored much higher in the eyes of consumers, and they based their preference on something very simple — geometry. Consumers were convinced that the shape of the elongated spout outperformed the shallower spout at pouring, despite evidence from our engineering research that proved they operated equally well.

Data on paper will only take you so far. For consumers, how they believe a product will perform is reality. Know your customer.

2. BALANCE INNOVATION AND INTUITIVENESS

Oftentimes, new and innovative products will make their way to the store aisles, only to fail because consumers don’t understand them. Changing consumer behavior is a hard road to climb. What often appears innovative in the concept phase can lead to confusion for consumers when the product shows up on the shelf. There is a fine line between designs innate enough for consumers to understand but also different and new enough to peak their interest.

Hundreds of products fail every year, and truly innovative products are few and far between: Less than one percent of new products launched over a five-year period are considered innovative (source: McKinsey Quarterly: “Reinventing Innovation at Consumer Goods Companies.” November 2006).

Pinpointing where consumers will and will not tolerate changes to their daily behavior is key in providing must-have brand packaging. A new solution consumers can’t understand will fail, even if it solves all the problems on paper. A research process that follows product development from concept all the way through home usage is crucial, because we want to confidently deliver packaging that has been through a true due diligence, allowing our CPG partners to succeed with their structures and designs.

The rising emergence of on-the-go products is a great example of achieving the balance of fresh and understandable. While many of the products remain the same, new and, often, smaller packaging forms are created to encourage usage occasions away from home. They often invite new consumers into a product or category. Classic on-the-go goods like Pepto-Bismol To-Go, Q-tip Purse Pack and the mini bottle of Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer have all created a better way to use the items while engaging in active lifestyles.

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3. MAKE IT FAMILIAR

Consumers are often afraid to fail when presented with new packaging concepts. Features that are too new will confuse consumers, making them apprehensive about interacting with the new package, and they will therefore avoid it. When consumers can associate packaging characteristics with items they are familiar with, the packaging feels approachable. Don’t confuse intuitive products with familiar ones, though the concepts seem similar. While intuitive products are easy for the consumer to understand, familiar products leverage a preexisting connection that consumer already has to another product.

We’ve seen this in action while talking to consumers about beauty wipes. Earlier this summer we launched a series of on-the-go packaging solutions for skincare and makeup-removal towelettes. One concept in particular was popular with consumers in the testing stage: The female consumers we spoke with overwhelmingly likened Pebble, a small, ergonomic case that fits in the palm of your hand, to the shape of a cosmetic compact.

Pebble’s package performs in preventing product dry-out and provides consumers with an audible click to reassure them of a tight moisture seal. The size proved to be convenient for on-the-go use, but the other concepts we shared that day did so as well. The consumer’s strong association to the makeup compact and away from a baby wipes-style package made this product a success with buyers.

There is always a balance between consumer, technical and business inputs when creating a breakthrough innovation. The small nuances can make or break a new packaging concept. Even when the door to innovation is open, it’s our responsibility to send through only fully vetted concepts. As we move on to our next 10,000 consumers, we’ll let them guide us in our never-ending pursuit for a better way.

SteveCallahanSteve Callahan

Steve brings over 25 years of practice and study on innovation, product design, talent development, and organizational leadership. He is the President of Perimeter Brand Packaging, an Open Innovation partner to leading CPG companies.

This article was originally written for and published in the August 2013 issue of BrandPackaging. Brand Packaging is the only publication entirely focused on the role of packaging in the consumer product marketing mix.