A full house: Household packaging shows a winning hand
Packaging companies across several markets are trying to be a little more green, a little more playful and a little more cutting edge. And some companies effectively do all three at the same time. We chatted with Rudi Becker, “the resonator,” aka senior director of packaging, at method, the largely successful household products brand that creates ‘beautiful cleaning products that are as kind to the planet as they are tough on dirt’. We talked about what the company prides itself on, what’s new for consumers and where the household goods industry is heading.
Method is an incredibly green company with regards to business practices, as well as packaging. A lot of other consumer packaged goods companies are also going that route to win over green-seeking consumers and to stay relevant in today’s changing marketplace.
“Consumer awareness is growing around these issues but there is still only a small subset of consumers that are actively seeking green products. Given that, the challenge for companies that make green products is to make them equally (if not more) compelling for the consumer compared to traditional products outside the naturals set. At method we work to achieve this by producing products that appeal to consumers on many levels (efficacy, fragrance, design) and are also sustainably produced and kind to people and the planet. Looking forward, as consumers turn more of their attention from what a product can do for them to how a product is made, CPG companies will need to follow the lead of brands like ours to maintain their relevance with consumers,” says Becker.
Method has a line of packaging that is made from collected ocean plastics, a unique project that is important work to the company, hoping to change the way consumers think about their products and where they come from.
“We created the ocean plastics product line to spark awareness and conversation about where packaging comes from and where it goes. The bulk of products out there are made from virgin materials and we wanted to shine a spotlight on the opportunity to instead take waste, recycle it and use it to create new products. In this case, that waste is plastic we’re helping remove from the oceans it’s polluting, and in the case of many of our other products it is plastic that would be going into landfills. In all cases, we’re taking plastic out of the waste stream and giving it a second life as a plastic bottle. We hope our ocean plastics line has been a catalyst for consumers to think about where their products come from, what they do with them, and where they go once they’re done,” continues Becker.
If you’ve seen or purchased method products, you know how truly beautiful and eye-catching they really are. The bright colors and product shapes evoke a playful aspect to cleaning, and that is no accident.
“When method started out we wanted to create cleaning products that people would be proud to display on their countertops (a pretty radical departure from what is typically stored under the sink). Our most well-known design is the bottle for our gel hand wash (our teardrop-shaped bottle) – it’s a clear bottle made from 100 percent recycled plastic (PCR PET) that showcases the bright and bold colors inside,” continues Becker.
You may remember that method’s newest laundry soap package garnered a lot of attention and some new packaging formats are on their way to consumers sure to garner more praise.
“Over the years we’ve brought the concept of foam to some new categories – originally hand (foaming hand wash), then dish (power foam dish soap), now body (foaming body wash). That requires innovation on the formulation front, but also when it comes to packaging. Our goal is to take the mundane and make it beautiful and functional. We have to take a stock pump and revamp it to work for our specific foaming application – in this case, to deliver the rich, thick foam of the body wash. We also have to address ergonomics – with foaming body wash we needed to make it equally easy to pick up and tilt the bottle, pump it one-handed or pump it from flat in a shower caddy. Finally, we have to create a total package for it that reflects our aesthetic,” explains Becker.
Packaging continues to evolve for every segment and household packaging is no exception. Becker weighed in on what trends we might expect to see as we move forward into the New Year.
“With the entrance of Amazon into pantry, more and more people are shopping online for household goods. CPG companies have to start thinking about packaging their products for that environment, where there are different functional needs for packaging and shipping. This creates a significant opportunity to pursue alternative packaging formats like flexibles – they offer higher value to the consumer, are optimized for shipping and use less material that traditional rigid packaging,” says Becker.
Method brings to consumers a world of affordable, eye-catching and effective cleaning products that hit the sustainability nail on the head, but they are not the only ones. Another big name in household packaging is excited to bring sustainable packaging to market. Seventh Generation, a leading brand of household and personal care products that help protect human health and the environment, launches a new recyclable pouch. The stand-up pouch packaging is a collaboration between The Dow Chemical Company’s (dow.com) Packaging and Specialty Plastics business, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) and Accredo Packaging (accredopackaging.com). The package is Seventh Generation’s first recyclable dishwasher pods package and features the SPC How2RecycleLabel.
Dow developed the resins for the recyclable polyethylene stand-up pouch to help ensure the package’s stiffness, toughness and sealability. Accredo Packaging converts these materials into pouches and their award-winning printing capabilities gives the package the aesthetics it needs to stand out on store shelves.
“Our goal was to produce a recyclable package for our Dishwasher Pods, without sacrificing performance or aesthetics,” says Derrick Lawrence, director of packaging development, Seventh Generation. “Our customers were asking for a more recyclable option, and our collaboration with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, Dow and Accredo Packaging turned that demand into a reality.”
Seventh Generation’s new Dishwasher Pods packaging carries the How2Recycle “Store Drop-Off” label, which encourages consumers to take flexible plastic bags, films and wraps to local grocery or retail stores for recycling. The pouches can be recycled at more than 18,000 store drop-off locations throughout North America.
Today’s household packaging is stepping up and delivering a solid hand to today’s consumers. Not only are new products aesthetically appealing for use in the home (and not just tucked away under the sink), they are environmentally conscious too. New formulas and upgrades ensure that the product itself, not just the packaging delivers on all fronts.
Multi-use package gets more done
Kind of like a pocket knife to home DIY-ers, the 3M Patch Plus Primer 4-in-1 package offers consumers four ‘tools’ in one handy package. Designed by TricorBraun (tricorbraun.com), the tube not only contains 3M’s combined patching plaster and paint primer product, but also features a flat solid end that serves as a putty knife and includes a sanding pad on its closure.
The package was created to take away a common consumer pain point of not knowing how or what to use to properly patch holes in walls to get them paint ready. 3M saw a gap in the market and wanted to help new DIY-ers easily and effectively solve this problem. Instead of having to purchase a tub of plaster and tools, the new 4-in-1 package allows users to have the plaster and the tools to apply it in one spot, without making multiple purchases. The package is designed to help new DIY-ers in fact do it themselves, and do it well, all the while making their lives a little easier.
The resulting inclusive package provides both products and tools for quick household repairs. TricorBraun was awarded a 2016 WorldStar Award from the World Packaging Organization (WPO) in Mumbai, India. The package was honored with a silver award in the household category.