“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.

Your Main Squeeze: The Changing Shape of Toothpaste Packaging

Along with the milk jug and the egg carton, the toothpaste tube is one of those few ubiquitous packaging silhouettes that anyone can easily recognize.

But the norm for toothpaste packaging is slowly changing. While you can still find the classic toothpaste tube packaging on-shelf, many new packaging solutions are joining it.

Below are four ways we’ve seen toothpaste packaging evolve:


1. It’s getting easier to store

Oral care brands are finally realizing that toothpaste is a difficult product to store. With the classic shape of toothpaste packaging giving consumers no choice but to lay the tube flat (taking up more than it’s fair share of medicine cabinet real estate) or keep it in a secondary organizer, like a cup, newer packaging for toothpaste lets consumers store it vertically.


Some brands store the standing tube with the dispenser facing down, other brands have chosen to keep the cap on top and flatten out the bottom.


2. Keep the Cap

Perhaps one of the biggest problems with toothpaste packaging is the tiny cap that often gets lost, dropped on the floor, or altogether left behind. To help maintain product freshness and prevent that dreaded crusty toothpaste, many new packaging solutions provide a hinge to keep the cap attached the the tube at all times.

Caps have also gotten larger and grown flip-top edges for easy handling and gripping. Many caps now also provide consumers with an audible click so the consumer knows when the cap is closed.


3. Pump it Up

Not only are stand-up tubes available for easy storage, but some packaging has abandoned the tube completely. There is an assortment of packaging for toothpaste that makes a play for less mess and easy dispensing that requires no squeezing at all. Pumps and shaving-cream-style dispensers are available in a variety of styles – with nozzles, removable caps or push-buttons.


4. Easy Squeezy

In the past, family members could debate over squeezing the toothpaste from the bottom, middle or top. That’s not always the case anymore. While the tube certainly remains a mainstay in the oral hygiene aisle, many leading brands are now offering toothpaste in bottles with flip-top lids.

Including one newcomer to the world of toothpaste – earlier this spring Hello Products launched their natural and “100% nice” oral care line, which boasts new toothpaste packaging innovation designed in conjunction with BMW Group DesignworksUSA.

All packaging on the mouthwashes, sprays and toothpastes are 100% custom, proprietary designs,” according to the company’s press release on the launch. “From the pour-and-swig rings on the mouthwashes, to the sleek click-and-go sprays, to the ‘pastry bag tip’ on the toothpaste.

The company’s goal is to provide “toothpaste that would look the same the day you recycle it as the very day you bought it – with a unique, medicine cabinet-friendly, soft-touch tottle that politely stands up, with no wasteful secondary packaging.”

Oftentimes updates to toothpaste packaging aren’t apparent until the consumer has using the product at home, because when you’re at the store and looking at it on-shelf the product is hidden in it’s box,

It’s clear that the classic elongated tube and tiny screw-on cap, while a familiar sight to most consumers, has come a long way. With so many many packaging changes occurs over the last several years, we look forward to seeing what is in-store for toothpaste packaging in the future.