“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.


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.”


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.”


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.


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.



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.


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.



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.

Consumer Insights Drive 2013 Packaging Trends

This article was originally written for and published in the 2013 Labels and Labeling Yearbook by Steve Callahan, President of Perimeter Brand Packaging.

As the Consumer Product Goods (CPG) industry evolves, the packaging industry needs to look beyond the customer P.O. and adopt a consumer validation mentality. R&D traditionally focuses on the engineering and technology versus human perception. If a product label is truly the ultimate billboard, the industry needs to understand how their business serves the end-user, the consumer. The end result will be an informed dialogue with brand owners and purchasing departments that present both technical feasibility and consumer utility.

Recent research revealed that over a 5 year period, less than 1% of products launched are considered “innovative”. Many new product launches are simply line extensions or slight improvements to the product. The true breakthroughs have one consistent theme – engaging early on with consumers to understand their insights and painpoints. Discovering how they interact with the packaging’s structure and label is a critical step in launching truly innovative products.

In 2013, expect to see the following trends:



We live in a mobile society. With the average American adult spending 2.5 hours in their car every day, people call cars their second home. And when people aren’t running errands around town, they are traveling across the country. About 1.7 million people get on an airplane every day.

As a result, CPG companies are racing to provide consumers with miniature, travel-friendly versions of all their favorite products to take the comforts of home with them on the road. CPGs are already taking note of this trend and taking it one step further, many products have been designed to conveniently fit inside car cup holders – everything from Puff’s tissues to Oreo cookies are now easily-accessible and only an arm’s reach away. For long-distance travels, grocery stores now devote an entire aisle to travel-size items – dominantly personal care products like shampoo, soap and shaving cream to allow passengers to abide by the 3.0 oz or less policy instated by the United States Transportation Security Association (TSA).

In 2013, expect the trend to grow beyond the personal care industry. Food and beverage brands have already taken notice with breakthrough products like Kraft Mio; a liquid water enhancer which Kraft claims is the first new category launch for the company in 15 years.

With sweeteners rapidly replacing traditional white sugar, Splenda released a new Splenda Minis product. Splenda Minis are dissolvable tablets that come in a protective case, providing Splenda-lovers with an easy click-button solution to fix their sweet tooth while they are on the run.

The on the go trend is not only convenient for consumers, but also a win for CPGs, as the product can be sold in an entirely new storefront space or as on-pack bonuses or trial-versions packaged with full-size products consumers normally purchase. These bite-size solutions provide incremental revenue streams at king-size margins and open up new retail opportunities, such as vending and convenience stores.

As you commit to consumer validation in 2013, take time to understand the consumer’s active lifestyle away from the home and how that changes their interactions with everyday products. Do consumers prefer subtle branding since they are often used in public? Consider the refill implications for consumer usability and whether your solution can hold up to wear and tear.


Consumers are increasingly choosing to make their experiences a shared one with friends, family and co-workers. This desire to share is translating over into the packaging world with solutions that move seamlessly from the store shelf to at-home use. In 2013 we will be seeing many more packaging solutions that encourage community consumption and that you can serve directly from the original package.

Some of these solutions will be focused on party-like settings, like Frito Lay’s new packaging solution for Stacy’s Pita Chips. In 2012 the company released a new package for their upscale product that added a flat bottom and re-sealable zipper to the traditional chip-bag style pouch. This turned the former stock-like package into a party bowl.

Perimeter Brand Packaging studied this consumer behavior and created a new solution called Handout, a product designed to increase on-shelf visibility and consumption of products like candy. The Consumer Insights team conducted a study of 1,000 consumers to understand the impact of the packaging on purchase intent and at-home usage and found that consumers expected to consume up to 89% more from the out-to-share style package than the traditional bagged candy. Consumers said they liked that the container could serve as a candy bowl, at home or at the workplace, where they liked the idea of leaving it out on their desk to share with co-workers.

The research also revealed that the full-color in-mold labeling (IML) graphics significantly increased the product brand recognition and created a premium appeal for the product. The full-color IML graphics not only allow for strong brand reinforcement, but also appealing seasonal patterns. This provides manufacturers with the opportunity to increase merchandising opportunities, for both on-shelf and seasonal promotional displays. Once again, the commitment to consumer insights helps drive conversation with CPG brand owners and R&D managers.

Popcorn may be the quintessential out-to-share food product. Appropriately, Orville Redenbacher also released a similar bowl concept in 2012 for their popular microwave popcorn line called the Pop Up Bowl. To avoid mess and the need for a secondary bowl, their new microwave packaging expands to form a bowl with a tear-off lid, allowing consumers to fight for the last few buttery pieces directly from the original package. The new open-top also resolved the consumer pain point of getting their hands messy while reaching into the buttery container. The product was named the 2012 Product of the Year in the snacks category by the Consumer Survey of Product Innovation.

The out-to-share trend is a big opportunity for the packaging industry. Products that were traditionally being thrown away or stored in the pantry are becoming staples in the kitchen or other frequently seen locations.


Just as the fashion industry now must address the trends of seasonality almost monthly instead of quarterly, CPG companies are under pressure to quickly address market trends, seasonality and innovation. A by-product of our consumer research is an understanding of the growing importance of rapid innovation.   Open innovation has flooded the industry with new ideas, all hoping to reach the desks of key decision makers in the largest CPG companies. However, the products that move from concept to execution are those that are able to engage not only in one stage, but throughout the development, production and launch phases of a product lifecycle.

Perimeter Brand Packaging works closely with partners like Inland Label, a label printer and global supplier based in La Crosse, WI, who share a “speed to volume” philosophy. This saves everyone, including printers and converters, time and money.

As you consider the value of consumer insights in your business planning, leverage research to validate your recommendations – and ultimately increase your market-ready capabilities.


Product innovation will be a key driver of growth in 2013. Labels and packaging can drive innovation by expanding their purpose by becoming a functional aspect of the product.

Inland Label’s development of the Coors Light color changing label is an example of creating an interactive label. Color changing inks indicate when the beer is at its ideal drinking temperature which both educates and empowers the consumer creating a more enjoyable experience.

“What started out as a promotion has turned into an innovation that completely revolutionized the Coors Light brand,” said Jackie Kuehlmann, marketing manager at Inland Land. “Inland Label continues to work with the Coors Light brand team to evolve the technology, which has allowed them to keep their package fresh and maintain their brand growth.”

In late 2011, H.J. Heinz launched the Dip & Squeeze Ketchup package, which gained a lot of media attention in 2012. The new product provides consumers with two ways to access the condiment – it peels back for dunking or the end can tear off for squeezing the product on to favorite foods. In 2011 the product has won the silver award from the Dupont Awards for Packaging Innovation for “capturing the spirit of innovation to resolve consumer challenges”.

“Dip & Squeeze marks the most significant packaging innovation for the ketchup packet in more than 42 years, revolutionizing the way consumers enjoy Heinz Ketchup,” said Michael Okoroafor, vice president Heinz Packaging Research & Development.

Likewise, Perimeter Brand Packaging has developed a product called Freehand, a device that is designed to show a measurement of how much liquid is being poured while dispensing the liquid – eliminating the need for a measuring cup and increasing consumer interactivity.

In all cases, the core product being sold did not change– it was the package functionality driven by consumer insights that delivered the innovation.

Studying consumer culture will always readily reveal packaging trends and labeling needs for the future. In 2013 the labeling industry needs to focus on consumer insights to understand how ever-evolving behaviors will impact the labeling world. As you look ahead to 2013, challenge your team to consider how labeling solutions can support innovation. Commit to driving innovation through material selection or design application. Most importantly, validate your innovation with consumers before you present them to your customers for success in 2013.

Steve 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 2013 Labels and Labeling Yearbook. Labels and Labeling is the global magazine for the label, product decoration, web printing and converting industry.