In Exclusives, Insight, People

Working in the creative industries, in whatever capacity, puts a certain pressure on you to be stylish—hair, fashion, bags, Apple accessories (I love Pijama’s fabric cases), or otherwise. And because I work in beauty design, the products I use are undoubtedly under serious scrutiny by visitors to my house. Nowhere is that more true than in the bathroom; this is an oddly public space, where 40% of people admit to a good old snoop in the bathroom cabinet (according to a 2015 survey by bathroom brand Bloo), and at the sides of the loo, shower, and sink.

I found myself artfully arranging the shampoo and shower gel bottles just before guests arrived last week, and this got me thinking about the kind of consumer behaviour that’s going on with brands in the bathroom.

The snipper and tipper

“The snipper and tipper” is absolutely determined to get every single last drop of a product out of the tube. They’ve paid for it, so they’re going to get it all. In a survey by LiquiGlide, 60% spent more than a few minutes trying to get everything out, including 15% for “as long as it takes.” The snipper and tipper will store bottles upside-down (84%), add water (68%), cut containers open (61%), and use spatulas (40%) to get at those last precious drops. And the craziest ways to do it include smashing, stepping on, sucking, and biting the pack. Rather unsurprisingly, 13% have injured themselves in the process!

The decanter

Similarly keen on value, but with more of an eye to outward appearance, “the decanter” is all about putting cheaper products into posher pots. Whether they refill expensive brand packaging again and again, or just go vintage, jam jar, or booze bottle à la multiple Pinterest boards, the decanter is all fur coat and no knickers.

The hideawayer

On the other hand, “the hideawayer” finds that keeping a plethora of lotions and potions is all a bit embarrassing, but still has a secret stash of products, probably tucked away in the back of a cabinet. Perhaps this is a bloke who hasn’t quite got to grips with today’s acceptance of male grooming, or a feminist who doesn’t believe in beauty products on principle but still loves her skin care regime.

The expert

Out and proud, “the expert” couldn’t be more different; you name it, they have it. The expert loves to show off their beauty bonafides, whether it’s a K-beauty bargain from Amazon, Superdrug’s amazingly effective but cheap-as-chips serum, or the latest Biologique Recherche or Lixirskin product launch. Newness, efficacy, and smarts are what it’s all about.

The show-offer

“The show-offer” aspires to be the expert, but is also a sucker for pretty packaging. The show-offer won’t compromise on product quality, but everything has to look utterly gorgeous; think well-known “Instagram appeal” brands like The Ordinary, Aesop, and Glossier. These people need products that provide kudos.

Humour aside (and I couldn’t possibly comment on which of the above I fall into), there are serious points to be made. Functionality always needs to come first—it doesn’t matter how gorgeous the packaging, people want easy access to all of the product. 

When environmental sustainability is an increasingly important issue for consumers, give meaningful consideration to refillability. Breaking down some of the outdated thinking around gender and beauty standards enables brands to engage with consumers that might be self-conscious or downright suspicious of the beauty industry. And lastly, ever better products, matched by utterly exquisite packaging, will always have pride of place in the bathroom.

Feature Article SPC magazine: This article was first published in SPC, volume 91, number 6. SPC is a product of HPCi Media Limited. For more information visit HPCi Media.

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