Soap packaging outperforms consumer expectations
tricorBraun partnered with Envirocon Technologies, makers of Austin, Texas-based Lemi Shine household cleaning products, to understand, explore and engineer a package that is unlike any other in its category. The resulting package design is disruptive on shelf, counter-worthy and loaded with enhanced functionality that outperforms consumer expectations.
Envirocon came to TricorBraun’s Custom Package Design and Engineering team with some secondary and primary research that revealed today’s consumers want to squirt a little dish soap on their sponges, wash their dirty dishes, rinse them and put them in the drying rack. Gone are the days of filling the sink basin with soapy water, letting dishes soak, and then rinsing and drying them by hand. A speedy clean-up is what is most important.
The research also indicated that consumers are looking for several things in a dish soap. Having the bottle handy or nearby on the kitchen counter, one-handed use, controlled dispensing and ease of evacuation are all critical. Consumers were either finding counter-worthy dish soaps that didn’t have the desired functionality, or soaps with some to all of the bottle functionality but with a design they didn’t want to leave on their counters. Envirocon saw this as an opportunity. Further, the family-owned Lemi Shine brand is firm on creating “Products that get the job done better, with plenty of peace of mind and no questionable chemicals.”
Standing out in a challenging category
In an attractive $3 billion dollar category, $1.7 billion belongs to liquid dish soap. This sounds like an amazing opportunity until you stop and think about the long history of brands that have dominated in dishwashing and dishwasher products.
“We’re smaller, we wanted differentiation, and we knew we had to work with the best to get there,” says John Gunning, marketing director, Lemi Shine. “We’re a challenger brand. We are building momentum, and brand awareness is increasing. The first interaction with our brand takes place in the store, so we have to do a lot at the shelf. We knew that along with the performance of the formula, the engineering of the package would play a huge role in the success of gaining retail interest.”
The initial ideas that Lemi Shine had for the design were inspired by other forms found in health and beauty aids. The bottle was to contain 22 fluid ounces, just slightly over the standard 21.6 ounces. The design would be used for three SKUs including liquid dish concentrate, dish and hand soap, and gentle on hands with aloe and vitamin E formulas. Design engineering objectives were developed around the following ideas: an invertible bottle that was sturdy, a leak-proof closure with a lock-back feature, practical one-hand control, a more sustainable cap, control of flow, full evacuation, a counter-worthy design and a clear bottle.
The invertible bottle needed to be sturdy with a leak-proof closure and dispensing system plus a lock-back feature that would allow the consumer to keep the bottle on the counter for fast grab-and-go use. It could not leak, with or without the latch, in the closed or lock-back position.
“Designing the whole custom closure was a welcome engineering challenge because it involved more creativity than most engineering projects,” says Jonathan Bolda, design engineer, TricorBraun. “Customer feedback was quick so the process was smooth— they knew what they wanted.”
Putting it all together
Package stability was critical, given the repeated action of grab-and-go use. The arc of the bottle needed to be flush with the closure for both aesthetics and stability. Because the thickness of the closure increased with the arc of the bottle, achieving a uniform wall thickness became a molding challenge. The engineering team solved the issue and was able to develop a more sustainable closure by cutting out two sections of the cap, one on either side of the latch.
Dispensing would also play a tremendous role in the desired functionality of the design. TricorBraun’s exclusive rights to the Aptar Sure Snap Valve provided exactly what the Lemi Shine team was looking for in terms of innovative dispensing technology. The phenomenal engineering of this silicone valve accommodates a clean flow and secure cut off— it provided the precise control that consumers were asking for during the research process.
“Engineering a bottle containing liquid soap that could remain in an inverted position when shipped, at retail and on the kitchen counter without leaking while meeting a very tight timeline was a challenge we were geared up for and were able to achieve,” says Joseph Caldwell, packaging consultant, TricorBraun. “The Aptar Sure Snap Valve helped us get there.” Leak testing was conducted at TricorBraun and at Aptar to validate.
Caldwell goes on to say, “It took a village. TricorBraun managed all of the technical aspects of the tool building and sampling in addition to the coordination with all of our trusted outside development partners.” Dhaliwal Labs is the filler, Poly-Tainer manufacturers the bottle, PSG makes the closure, Aptar makes the valve and Consolidated Label Co. handles the decoration. TricorBraun was also able to leverage international and domestic tool builders to achieve speed-to-market.
The clear bottle has a two-sided back label and shows off the clear soap, highlighting its chemical-free formula. “The geometric background patterns were inspired by the crystal structure of citric acid, which provides the power in our formula,” says Chris Merriam, creative director, Lemi Shine. “The graphics are shown in three different colors with one for each SKU and provide a fish eye effect that is distinct on shelf.”
Cleaning up at shelf
Once a prototype was ready, Lemi Shine was able to validate all of the functionality and aesthetic appeal with consumers firsthand, and its sales force was also able to land an agreement with Walmart and Kmart that began in January. Currently, they are in 1,000 of their store locations. In March, the company also landed HEB. With just a few months of sales, the number of retail commitments has increased to 17 major retailers. The Target launch is in September.
“I highly recommend working with TricorBraun because of its commitment to finding a way to make things work,” says Gunning. “Every bump in the road was solved in a way that pushed the project forward and allowed us to develop a package that is unlike any others in the category— reinvented to meet the preferences of consumers both in form and function.”
And according to Merriam, the brand places such worth in the group’s creative services that it is already beginning its next package with the team. “As a result of this project, we are now working on a custom design with TricorBraun for our rinse agent.”
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