Today’s households are anything but traditional. Changing income structures, busier lives, adult children living at home, and many economic factors have changed the way people work and live. This has also changed how people interact with the products and packaging that help them live. Convenience is key, but consumer needs don’t stop there. Eco-friendly products are in demand as are all things new, innovative and unique. Consumers want to live well, live affordable, live consciously and live innovatively. Household products are answering those demands with entirely unique solutions to traditional products and packaging.
For those who prefer the easy popping of a detergent pod in the wash, Charlie’s Soap has created an alternative to the bright pods popping up from major detergent brands. Most detergent pods come in vibrant colors that have proven a bit too attractive to children. In order to avoid this problem while still offering their customer’s a single-use packaging option, Charlie’s packs its soap in cellulose paper packets that completely dissolve in the wash. The packets lack the candy-like look of other pods, which is what makes them so appealing, according to the company.
“We took careful note of the potential hazards inherent with the ‘pods’ used by other brands,” says Taylor Sutherland, president of Charlie’s soap. “We knew that our loyal customers were interested in a single-use, pre-measured product, but we didn’t want to subject them to the pitfalls of the colorful pods that look like candy. Our packets are simple to use without all the bright colors that attract the attention of inquisitive children.”
Paint in a pouch
Spray paint brings to mind a very familiar mental image — an aerosol can. But Rust-Oleum and Printpack (printpack.com) are challenging that iconic package by packing Rust-Oleum’s SpraySmart spray paint in a pouch. The 12-ounce clear pouch uses premium external high barrier materials and Printpack’s proprietary barrier sealant film technology. This allows the pouch to have a strong barrier to oxygen, moisture and chemical attack.
SpraySmart facilitates an easy transition from the aerosol can by using existing spray wands and a non-clogging spray tip. The pouch also provides more effective product evacuation. The SpraySmart pouches use less space than aerosol cans and allow for easier disposal. Overall, these advantages make SpraySmart a more convenient, less costly and sustainable solution for consumers and brands alike.
Whether simplifying the laundry, reimagining the way repainting works or catching a consumer’s eye with an entirely new type of package, today’s household packaging is breaking out of the boxes, bottles and cans of days past. Regardless of the shifts in consumer lifestyles, packaging is changing how household chores and traditions will look in the future.
Interview with Brian Wagner, vice president, Consulting Services of Packaging Technology Integrated Solutions for HAVI Global Solutions
Packaging Strategies: What are currently the biggest trends in household packaging?
Wagner: There are a number of key trends that are consistent at a macro level, but evolving in terms of execution, as well as new emerging trends; all of which can drive initial and repeat purchases of household products. These include:
Performance. Packaging functionality, efficacy and appearance allow products to connect through all of our experiential senses. This can involve displaying the product in clear packaging to signal transparency of what is inside, allowing aromas to emit from packaging to stimulate scent, or using packaging that allows the consumer to touch and feel the product to increase their comfort level with what they are about to buy. In other words, in many situations the design and performance of packaging is just as important as the performance of the product.
Wellness/Life Quality. Package design can improve ease of use and make it easier for consumers to create a space they feel is a place of wellness.
Convenience. This is defined in many ways based on making life better, easier, and in the case of household products, taking the work out of doing chores. e.g. laundry pods that eliminate steps, and make cleaning easier.
These factors drive success today and have for more than 20 years. Of course, the execution of these elements will change and evolve in the industry to align with consumers and customers over time in terms of look and feel, form and function and emotional connection. Other factors growing in importance, as supplements to those referenced above, include:
- Exploration/Trial. Packaging that allows consumers to touch, feel and interact with what they are about to buy.
- Fun. Packaging that looks fun and bright, or packaging that allows consumers to use household products in a more “fun” way, such as automatic triggers, or using stain removing pens.
- Time Saving (global and across all cultures). Products such as wipes can reduce the need to spray products and then wipe with a separate material, and are dispensed through easy to store and use containers. Small individual laundry wipes can remove stains instead of washing a garment based on one stain.
- Affordable Luxury (high personal value). Think of how packaging can turn a basic looking cleaner or detergent into what may be perceived as a luxury item. For example, certain air fresheners or kitchen solutions that don’t look like typical cleaners.
- Environmental. Triple bottom line sustainability versus purely environmental.
These additional packaging factors may be “nice to haves”, but they can differentiate products. And of course, safety and quality remain as the necessary basics.
PS: Which up and coming household packaging innovations are important to watch?
Wagner: There remains a lot of opportunity for science and technology to deliver great value through packaging. Companies are clearly looking at the white spaces, and leveraging technology to fill the voids.
The Mr. Clean eraser is a great example, as was the Swiffer before that. Wipes that filled a need for touch ups rather than extreme cleaning or foaming pumps that delivered soaps in new ways. Trigger sprayer innovation seems natural to come next; there is a lot of sameness in the marketplace, and I expect someone to develop something new and groundbreaking in that regard.
PS: Refillable packaging seems to be gaining popularity. How are consumers responding to these packages? Are they following through with refilling them?
Wagner: Refillable has been tried many times in North America, yet it is often trumped by convenience. Other than companies like Amway and a few others, with consumers who will make the extra effort, I don’t see it growing quickly.