Packaging experts explain what it takes to ensure that your products stand out
on shelf, at home and in the customer’s mind.
Tom Branna • Editorial Director
GET READY. Get set. Impress. Industry experts say people only have seven seconds to make a good impression. Packaging must work even harder, as consumers spend
just three seconds eyeing store shelves before deciding on that
skin cream, lipstick or perfume. Obviously, the clock is ticking
for fast-moving consumer goods; the right packaging not only
catches the consumer’s eye, in many instances it can close the
Yet whether a product wins or loses on shelf, isn’t a matter of
chance—it’s a product of competency. There are certain elements
that make some packages work and others fail.
“There is so much packaging innovation out there,” observed
Eileen Higgins, a beauty industry consultant who, before opening
her own business, was VP-global product development at Avon
Products.“Women want multipurpose, portable packaging that is
slim and sleek.”
According to Amy Marks-McGee, founder of Trendincite
LLC, a consulting company that helps clients cull through, distill
and translate pertinent trend information into tangible products,
great packaging that is eye-catching and well-received by con-
sumers must fit three criteria: One, it must fit the brands’concept
and message; two, it must communicate the benefit or function;
and three, it needs to be memorable.
“With this in mind, if a product has great packaging and at-
tracts a consumer purchase, but it does not meet expectations
and does not deliver the benefit or the applicator is difficult or
messy to use, the consumer may be disappointed and not repur-
chase,” explained Marks-McGee.
Not all personal care products get purchased on store shelves.
When it comes to direct-selling, a lot of deals are closed in the
consumer’s living room or at her kitchen table, and that requires a more intimate connection between the product and the
“It’s about the experience and the relationship that the customer has with the consultant—that’s our moment of truth,” explained Marie Swisher, VP-brand development, Mary Kay Inc.
“Packaging has an important role to play, but it is really just one
part of the equation that includes performance, experience, engagement and connection. Every decision we make in packaging
is designed to reinforce the story behind the product. We strive to
put products in consumers’ hands that really enforce the prod-
One such package is TimeWise Repair, a line that addresses
the signs of aging skin. The Time Wise Repair packaging is an el-
egant pink, with touches of silver.
“It’s a premium look,” said Swisher.
TimeWise Repair utilizes airless technology in jar products,
which is new for Mary Kay. The line, like many other Mary Kay
Ambuja represents art, molecular science, design and cosmetics.
lines, is available in a complete box set, which clearly illustrates
how all the products work together, according to Swisher.
Another is Botanical Effects, which is targeted to a younger
consumer and is all about easy beauty, according to Swisher. The
packaging reinforces the natural positioning, with tubes made