Insights, Dispensed

The rise of self-care and #shelfies and their impact on packaging design

By Olga Bates
Manager, Marketing Insights Beauty & Personal Care
Silgan Dispensing Systems

The personal care industry finally is experiencing a long-awaited shift in how brands approach package design and marketing. Previously, there was a certain degree of commoditization among personal care products with many relying on a singular new feature or gender-specific packaging to catch the eyes of targeted consumers. Now, product and package design are seen as the biggest drivers for consumer sales thanks to a confluence of factors.

Self-Care on the Rise

While self-care isn’t a new trend, its growing prominence and subsequent influence on personal care products and consumers’ buying habits is hard to deny. According to a recent Style magazine article, Google searches for “self-care” are up 25 percent compared to the previous year. People are more attuned to the activities and routines that bring relief and peace to their lives, and for many, that includes treating their home like a spa.

This goes well beyond lighting a few candles and sending the kids outside to play. One of the most effective ways for consumers to create a spa-like atmosphere is through high-quality, well-designed packaging of personal care products. What once were considered superfluous or “every now and then” splurges are becoming part of consumers’ routine shopping habits.

Brands can differentiate themselves in two key ways.

  1. Reduced Focus on Gender-Specific Packaging

For too long, gender stereotypes largely guided personal care product packaging. Arguably the best example of this is the packaging for female razors. Store shelves commonly are lined with pink razors in pink boxes with flowery language to appeal to female audiences. The design approach does little to understand the needs and cares of women, only that their target audience is female. On top of that, these products often carry a higher price, dubbed the “pink tax,” compared to more “generic” products that are of equal value and design.

Understandably so, this approach has had the opposite effect – instead drawing the ire of female consumers who feel penalized simply for being women. It isn’t that they, like all consumers, aren’t willing to spend more for premium products. They simply want the product to demonstrate value and qualities that meet their unique needs.

    2. Natural Ingredients, Environmentally Friendly Packaging

Another trend fueling the premiumization of personal care design is that consumers are more mindful of the materials they put in and on their body. It isn’t too much of a surprise that consumers are concerned about the level of toxins in their care products, but in most cases, this also has influenced the packaging. Instead of pink and other more traditionally feminine colors, packaging often now features a much more muted color palate to emphasize a natural, minimalist approach to products ingredients and overall design.

Spa-Like Experience That Reflects Luxe Packaging

Ultimately, a product’s premium packaging and design must translate to a premium experience. Obviously, this relates to the effectiveness of the product itself – a high-end product needs to work. But it also needs to make the home feel like a spa. Cheap cardboard or plastic don’t do much to make a consumer to help them feel as though they’ve been transported to a luxurious resort. In fact, social media platforms like Instagram have led to consumers taking “shelfie” pictures—a proud display of aesthetically pleasing personal care products lined up on a shelf. And make no mistake, how products look is just as important as how they perform when it comes to a social media post.

Personal care products are now a buying priority for consumers. And the brands investing in the right insights to identify their consumers’ needs and interests, all to deliver a premium experience, are winning the day.