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Read my lips: Consumers speak on lip balm packaging preferences

New research uncovers consumers’ functional and aesthetic preferences around lip balm package types.

Consumers like the small size of the stick, saying, ‘It’s small and easy to carry with you,’ but also note, ‘it’s easy to lose.’
Consumers like the small size of the stick, saying, ‘It’s small and easy to carry with you,’ but also note, ‘it’s easy to lose.’

Female consumers prefer the size, fun, and trendiness of lip balm stick packaging and the trendy, hygienic, and visually appealing design of modern jar packaging, according to new research from TricorBraun. Consumers also favor the intuitiveness, size, portability, and open/close ease of a new pop-jar format compared to the traditional jar.

TricorBraun conducted qualitative research to understand consumer behavior and packaging preferences for the lip balm category, which is forecast to grow more than 4%, reaching $2 billion by 2020, according to research from Global Industry Analysts, Inc.

“With nearly three-quarters of consumer purchase decisions based on packaging, it’s no longer enough to be noticed on the shelf; an understanding of consumer lifestyle and how it drives package functionality and aesthetics is critical to success,” says Becky Donner, Senior Vice President of Design and Engineering at TricorBraun. “Direct feedback about how consumers interact with the product allows us to look inside the mind of the consumer and answer the how and why so that we are able to elevate every aspect of the package design and enhance the consumer experience.”

TricorBraun conducted in-depth, qualitative focus groups with women ages 11 to 30 years old who have used lip balm on a weekly basis during the past six months. Participants were asked open-ended questions regarding their purchase motivators and product perceptions around lip balm packaging. Research participants were asked to identify their favorite package format and to evaluate aesthetic and functional appeal of various package formats.

Packaging preferences

TricorBraun tested four lip balm packaging formats: stick, traditional jar, modern jar, and a not-yet-on-the-market pop jar. The qualitative research reveals consumers’ first preference for stick and modern jar formats (tie), followed by the new pop-jar packaging. Consumers perceive the stick to be simple, convenient, hygienic, and portable, and the modern jar to be trendy, easy, and hygienic. While consumers said they like the fun, convenience, and appealing nature of the new pop jar, they said they would only recommend a modified design to avoid touching the product.

Consumers liked the small size of the stick, commenting, “It’s small and easy to carry with you,” but also noted, “it’s easy to lose.” Consumer comments about the modern jar include, “I like these for the germ factor because I’m in healthcare; I think about that. I don’t like to put my finger in it,” and “It’s easy to apply.”

Fun factor, intuitiveness & trendiness trump size and portability

While several packaging features contribute to consumers’ lip balm buying decisions, TricorBraun’s research shows that features such as intuitiveness, having a fun factor, trendiness, and visual appeal outrank size, ease of opening/closing, cleanliness, and portability. Packaging consultants at TricorBraun reference these findings to better navigate options that are right for the end user and the brand owner.

“Our industrial design team fully understands that it’s not enough to design a beautiful package,” says Rachel Murphy, Industrial Designer at TricorBraun. “It must be useful, meaningful, and relevant to consumers’ lives. In this demographic, germ-free application was very important. Consumers make their purchases based on products that work for their personal needs so through package design we need to deliver the best possible user experience. Only then can packaging help build brand loyalty and win on shelf.”

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