GCI Magazine

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Packaging Design: Engaging Consumers

By: John Lamb
Posted: September 5, 2008, from the August 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

Today, personal care products and their associated product groups are some of the fastest-growing and most competitive segments within the fast moving consumer goods market. Cosmetic and personal care products traditionally are split into product groupings, each with its own unique packaging formats and needs. Together these groups—makeup, skin care, deodorants and fragrances, soaps and body wash, hair care and oral care—are responsible for a packaging market earning revenues slightly more than $3 billion annually in the U.S. alone. Steady growth is expected to increase this to around $4 billion annually within the next 10 years.

Packaging within the personal care sector is of key importance to product manufacturers. This in turn means that the design of personal care packaging must be carefully tailored to both reflect and support consumer, product and marketing trends.

General Trends

New consumer groups—Recent and future trends include the targeting and engagement of new and varied consumer groupings. Increasingly, traditional consumer profiles are being replaced by targeted ones. For instance, male grooming continues to be one of the fastest-growing personal care sectors. Linked with a better consciousness of health and well-being, products that offer skin care and fragrance now can be seen alongside traditional products such as shaving aids and deodorants, leading to new growth in packaging specifically targeted toward men. Another example is the growth of youth markets, with companies targeting groups typically ranging in age from 7–14, 14–20, and 20 and above. Target marketing also can be seen in the world of magazine publishing where the diversity of products has expanded greatly in recent years.

Product concepts—New product concepts, such as brand stretch, are emerging within the personal care market presenting both challenges and opportunities to packaging designers. For example, Dove stretched its soap bar aesthetics to body wash and bath cream packaging. The brand now offers similar benefits and messages in its diverse product groups such as deodorants and hair care. The packaging designs have to support what the core brand offers whilst maintaining differentiation between the various product benefits within the range. Another new product concept, traversing all consumer groups, is luxury and niche product marketing. A growing recognition of the desire for luxury, enhanced by the notion that consumers are attracted to reassuringly expensive products, plays a key role in propping up global manufacturers’ turnovers. As a result, many of the luxury brands now are owned by major personal care companies.

Overriding all of these trends is the increased anxiety created by packaging waste. Sustainable packaging is now a hot issue with many companies looking for ways to minimize packaging, making it lightweight and reduced to allow for easy recycling or refilling.

Consumer is King