Convenience in packaging has become a widely used term nowadays, often times conveniently misused. While consumers are looking for convenient packages, too many packaging innovations are marked as “convenient” without specifying what makes the package so convenient when compared to others. This oversight can reduce the packaging innovation to nothing more than useless material if the product fails to stand out on shelf or deliver the right message to the consumer.

Unlike convenience claims in food and drink categories that focus on ease of opening, reclosure features, etc., convenience in personal care packaging is expressed through attributes like size and ease of application. Mintel research shows that consumers value the convenience of smaller packs for on-the-go use and ease of application achieved through applicators and tools that make the product effective. In fact, according to Mintel’s report Anti-aging Skincare US 2014, 75% of US anti-aging skincare product users are interested in products that contain diagnostic tools on the package, while 66% are interested in single dose products.

66% of US skincare product consumers are interested in single dose products

US body, hand and footcare product consumers also express interest in different packaging formats that suggest convenience. For example, 85% are interested in pump bottles since they suggest easier product application with less mess. Over three quarters (78%) of consumers are interested in smaller-sized packaging for on-the-go or travel, and 54% are interested in single-use products. However, while there is a known consumer preference for certain pack types, personal care packaging generally lacks communication on pack that emphasizes these benefits.

Packaging that speaks to the consumer

Despite a number of novel packaging introductions into the market, with many truly bringing added benefits to consumers, communication of those benefits on pack is often not expressed as clearly as it is on food and drink packing. This can likely be explained by brands wishing to maintain the aesthetic appeal with primary emphasis on product, not package functions. However, looking at new packaging introductions in the personal care market, some brands do mention packaging attributes on the back of the label. This indicates that showcasing package functionality is a priority for these brands. Although, they are still missing the mark on communicating successfully to consumers.

For example, Live Clean Kids Tropical Body and Hair Wash has a novel pack shape that, according to the description on the back of the pack, “provides easy grip and is perfect for small (i.e. kids’) hands”. Calling out these two packaging attributes front and center of the pack would help the product stand out on shelf. Similarly, in many haircare products where high precision nozzles and novel sprays enhance product performance, brands neglect to share this information on pack.

In the instances where brands do add convenience-related claims on pack, it is important to consider what these claims mean to the consumer. For example, Swell Ultimate Volume Dry Shampoo says “unique eco-pump delivery system” on pack. This is a great added function to the pack that changes the way the product is dispensed, but the claim might be too general for consumers to fully understand the added benefits, causing them to disregard the product.

Where do we go from here?

Caps that are easy to open, personal care products that stand up better in the shower, novel ways to more easily dispense the product, packages that prevent soap from leaking etc., are among the many potential facets of convenience in personal care packaging. Brands have to find a way to combine packaging attributes with brand communication to better demonstrate how one particular packaging feature enhances the entire product experience.

Today, convenience in packaging is a need expressed in a variety of attributes that ease consumers’ experience with a product. Even though consumers will discover the convenience of one packaging vs another after use, calling it out on pack will be beneficial to promoting the product in the competitive retail space. Furthermore, it is important going forward to feature those attributes on pack so consumers can decide for themselves how convenient the pack really is.

Viktorija Gnatoka is Global Packaging Analyst at Mintel where she is responsible for delivering packaging insights and actionable recommendations across multiple categories.

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