Make yourself feel at home… through packaging

Cocooning, which sees people increasingly interested in spending time and consuming at home, has not only been benefiting consumer electronics and home appliances; Euromonitor International looks at how the packaging industry is responding to this growing lifestyle trend.

The cocooning trend grew along with opportunities to shop online and also to work remotely, as the reflection of consumers’ desire to be comfortable at home.

But it took another meaning after the September 11 attacks, with people now willing to feel protected against, and to escape from, the “outside world” in their own home. In some countries increasingly stringent anti-smoking legislation has also pushed the smoker away from on-trade premises and back into the home.

This has driven people to socialise less and spend more time, or at least more quality time, at home. As a result these consumers are making their living space an even more comfortable and exciting place to be.

More recently cocooning has received another push by the economy with consumers replacing a night out with entertaining at home to counter the effects of the global recession. Additionally this trend is also expanding along with the rise of social networking which enables consumers to keep that link with others without necessarily having to go out.

Inspiringly round shapes for a home spa experience

The desire to emulate a spa experience at home has gained importance, in particular among women. Many personal care brand owners have therefore developed their own spa product range, with an effort to not only reflect quality standards which are closer to what consumers would expect to find in a real spa, but also often to excite senses in a similar way to that of a spa treatment.

As such, packaging shapes are often curvy so as to provide a smooth touch and link to aspects perceived as feminine. In the case of Radox, the number 2 body wash brand in the UK by Sara Lee, the plastic bottles and their closures merge into a rounded shape which recalls the heated stones increasingly used in therapeutic spas and health salons for hot stone massage.

Metal packaging has also seen innovation in shaping with for instance the embossed aerosol can used for Sanex Natur Protect deodorant spray (Sara Lee) in France, also following the theme of body treatment through stones and minerals. Both these products are using packaging to suggest the quality, effect and results of a spa treatment, from the comfort of your own home.

The use of distinctive shapes in the packaging of home spa oriented products will likely continue and spread in categories such as depilatories and even self-tanning, as women continue to explore the possibilities of in home beauty and well-being treatment.

“On-trade at home” fuels packaging functionality

The boom in espresso machines and their coffee pods is one of probably the most illustrative examples of consumers bringing the on-premise experience home. This shift from food service to in home consumption has not only been driven by the desire to make savings at a time of economic downturn; people still need to be excited by what they will consume at home. Packaging reflects that level of quality offered by coffee pods, with glossy, gusset flexible plastic bags, with aluminium cups in the case of Nestlé’s Nespresso.

But perhaps the most important adaptation of packaging to the “on trade at home” trend is in the form of added convenience. While the wine bag in box several countries offering a recession-proof price and easy dispensing system, carbonate giant Coca-Cola gives us the “fridge pack”, a 12 unit enclosed carton multipack for fresh cans available to the entire household.

Functionality is also sometimes in the portion size, such as in France where 150ml carbonate cans are being successfully used as mixers in the preparation of aperitif drinks.

People are not only spending more time at home; they are also expected to be increasingly individual about their product choices and to express this individuality through what they consume at home. This means consumer goods might have to become even more targeted rather than trying to answer everyone’s need.

FMCG manufacturers should therefore rely less on brand loyalty and continue to adapt to those profiles and differentiate through packaging.