When consumers think of household products, they usually consider indoor cleaners, surface disinfectants and dishwashing products. It’s time to focus on outdoors – especially this time of year. Fall cleanup and winter prep time is here, and that means getting lawn mowers, leaf blowers and trimmers winterized, and snow blowers, vehicles and home exteriors ready to brave the cold.

Our online monthly reader poll asked, “Which new trends are you seeing emerge for household packaging?” A resounding 38% answered “better aesthetics.” Next was “various sizes for different uses” followed by “more green/natural product choices.” The following new products all give rise to ease of use, better design and more convenient sizes.

As is the case with many outdoor household products—like premixed 50:1 gas products for chainsaws, leaf blowers and hedge trimmers – they all look similar. STIHL MotoMix needed a new angle to standout at retail, and with help from Berlin Packaging (berlinpackaging.com), it got a rectangle.

Nearly every premixed brand on the market comes in cylindrical cans. STIHL knew a square metal can would attract attention, but creating it would be a challenge. In particular, the pour nozzle had to be attached in a way that it would meet governmental regulations for hazardous materials. During shipping, the package had to be able to withstand heat, cold and drops onto hard surfaces. Berlin Packaging achieved those goals, and worked with the company to solve the nozzle constraint by attaching it not with a typical soldered joint, but with a laser weld that is stronger, eliminates markings and makes the package more attractive. Another improvement, the handle is attached longways atop the package, rather than in the traditional transverse position. The new handle lets users carry the package easily, and assists in more controlled pours. A half-gallon size was added to the line to give consumers an alternative to the gallon and quart sizes.

Another newbie just launched for outdoor use: Valvoline products in the Easy Pour Bottle. Valvoline worked with consumers to develop the new design. The brand’s patent-pending Easy Pour Bottle claims to make changing oil easier while offering a simplified shopping solution for the automotive Do-It-Yourself (DIY) audience. The bottle has an Easy Pull Tab which makes opening the bottle clean and simple, as well as a Precision Pour Spout™ that provides accurate pour and clean cut off for no messes. The new bottle provides a glug-free pour for a faster, cleaner and easier oil change and Resealable Overcap with No-Slip Grip to help prevent spillage and provide safer storage. This product has a new centralized handle as well, touting easier pick up, transport and pour. 

The brand is so confident in their newest innovation that they have issued a satisfaction guarantee at retailers nationwide, offering a 100% money-back promise to encourage DIYers to experience the bottle – and its advantages – for themselves.

Every garage or shed has a resident bucket. For any outdoor or indoor work, something always gets put in a bucket. Fear spillage no more with the new Pourfection Pail. Container Packaging Systems LLC (container-ps.com) created the innovative pail cover technology to eliminate glugging when pouring from a pail, providing a smooth, safe and precise flow. Pourfection Pail eliminates splashing, thus improving employee safety. Other benefits include negligible product spillage and reduced environmental contamination. Pourfection Pail is an economical solution for consumers looking to eliminate splashing. The product’s venting feature is molded into the pail cover and requires no additional components or assembly steps.

Dispensing liquids from pails used to involve varying degrees of glugging, splashing and spilling due to inadequate air return into the pail. Container Packaging Systems developed the vented pail cover to establish separate flow paths for air and liquid, providing a perfect glug-free pour.

Household packaging manufacturers and designers need to answer to consumer needs – many of those being millennials purchasing homes. Light weight, convenient, sustainable, varied sizes and ease of use are all buzz words that can make a product jump off the shelf into a shopping cart. To stay on trend for the millennial generation (the newest group of house buyers), offer variety in size, and stick with fresh, vibrant graphics, icons and simple call-outs on pack.

Our sister magazine, BRANDPackaging, recently held its annual Design Gallery competition. One company entered a outdoor household products – and came out with a #1 win. Ace Hardware has a broad product line of nearly 9,000 private-branded products sold throughout its hardware stores. Among these products is a line of spray paint cans. The goal of this packaging was to create a consistent family appearance for the paints, meet the 2017 regulatory updates for aerosol coatings, and improve call outs and features of the product while maintaining Ace’s reputation as “The Helpful Place.”

Included in the graphics are large images that show what the paint/primer is used for with text like “Rust Stop,” “Striping” and “Marking” on front of pack. One look at the cans and consumers can tell immediately what each is specifically used for. Ace also refreshed the line to modernize the color offering. The new packaging works, as the spray paint can line received the award in the metal design category.

With this win, we wanted to speak with Angela Bagdasarian, associate global private brand label brand manager at Ace Hardware to hear what household trends they were seeing in the retail world. Here’s what we found:

Packaging Strategies: Are you seeing any new trends in the outdoor household product/packaging category?

Angela Bagdasarian: In private label, the industry trend has been to elevate the quality of the product, so it is equivalent or better than the national brand. Since Ace Brand has always been a high quality product, we were ahead of the trend. In terms of packaging, the trend has been toward clean, concise messaging to make the consumer’s selection process easy and quick.

PS: What do your consumers look for in the packaging aspect of your private label products?

AB: For all categories, overall, consumers seek clear and concise product titles and descriptions so they can easily and quickly find the products they are seeking. However, within the categories there are differences on how consumers shop. In the case of grass and bird seed, we learned from market research that customers have a positive response to more visibility of the product, so we increased the window size on the package. For our spray paint, consumers are most interested in application so we use lifestyle images to convey this on the can.

PS: Are you seeing more eco-friendly, sustainable and/or green packages purchased when a choice is presented on-shelf?

AB: As we have reduced our packaging in different categories in order to be more eco-friendly, the consumers have responded positively. Builder’s Hardware is an example of a category where we moved away from clam shells and converted to trap blisters. This resulted in a 50% reduction in plastic that was used, and it continues to be a strong basic hardware category for our stores.

PS: What do you expect to see in coming years?

AB: We expect to see future growth from millennials as they begin purchasing and fixing their homes. Since this group may not have as much experience in taking care of a home, our helpfulness at the store level as well as on our packaging will be crucial. The presence of icons, images and simple call-outs will continue to be the keys to our success.

ACE Hardware’s spray paint can line

ACE Hardware’s spray paint can line brings home a design award for its rebranded line.