Going direct to consumer is incredibly liberating for brands, giving them complete autonomy over customer relationships. Plus, they’ve got carte blanche when it comes to packaging and labelling design. 

While retail distribution is focussed around standing out on a crowded shelf, direct to consumer brands can convey their values and nurture customer loyalty from first glance through the front of pack (FoP) label – playing a much longer game than just securing impulse purchases. So, who’s doing this well? 

Following on from our discussion on how D2C brands can use product packaging to build strong, loyal customer relationships, we wanted to highlight five FMCG companies that are using containers and labels cleverly, to show shoppers exactly what they stand for and nurture brand affinity… 

1. Ritual Vitamins

Ritual’s belief that “the future of vitamins is clear” is something the nutraceutical brand embraces in both its product and its packaging. 

The company was founded by a woman (Katarina Schneider) for women, to make dietary supplements more transparent and trustworthy, as the average multivitamin can contain more than 20 components. 

In contrast, Ritual Vitamins use nine research-backed, completely traceable ingredients – contained in clear capsules, and delivered in a see-through bottle. 

Echoing product transparency in its choice of bottle is more than just a smart marketing move; it helps Ritual to drive repeat orders. Seeing the capsules on the counter makes people more likely to remember to take them every day. And consumers can clearly monitor how many vitamins are left in their container, so they can place another order before the bottle runs out.  

2. Huel

Meal replacement drinks have traditionally been marketed as a slimming aid, but Huel straddles the gap between diet products and protein shakes. Marketed as a complete meal replacement, Huel’s founder, Julian Hearn promotes his weight management products as “fast food but not junk food”, with strong emphasis on its plant-based ingredients. 

Huel’s clean, no-nonsense credentials directly influence its packaging design and content, which uses black and white branding and a full stop at the end of the product name. There are no cluttered claims about weight loss results, just the ‘nutritionally complete food’ slogan on the front, and essential product information on the back, This is a smart move from a translation perspective, as the brand that sells to a diverse range of international markets including Germany, China, Dubai and North America.    

3. Splosh

Another brand that subscribes to ‘less is more’ when it comes to packaging design is natural cleaning product brand, Splosh. 

Eco-friendly cleaning is a massive growth market – something we discussed in a recent blog post. Splosh not only makes non-chemical, vegan-friendly household cleaning materials; it uses a zero waste plastic model to package those products sustainably. Splosh bottles can be refilled using concentrated refill pouches, which themselves can be recycled in bulk by returning the pouch to Splosh once it has been used. 

What makes Splosh’s brand interesting is not necessarily the main product packaging, but its use of connected content. Consumers can place orders and manage subscriptions via a smartphone app, at the same time as exploring other products in the Splosh ecosystem.

4. Magic Spoon

Sometimes a product category can fall victim to consumer trends: the impact of low-carb diets on cereal sales is a good example. But upstart brand Magic Spoon has capitalised on this challenge by developing a series of high protein, low sugar, gluten-free, keto-friendly cereals with nostalgic flavour combinations. 

The company exceeded customer acquisition targets by 70% – even during the pandemic – through a combination of good product targeting and clever packaging design. 

Magic Spoon cereals recreate favourite breakfast flavours from childhood, including frosted, fruity, peanut butter and cocoa cereal, under the strapline “childlike cereal for grown-ups”. This combination of health and nostalgia is echoed in the FoP imagery, which features bright colours and playful characters alongside clear, bold statements about the product’s sugar, protein, and carb content.

The focus on fun, resonant branding also follows through to Magic Spoon’s delivery boxes. Magic Spoon uses the outer packaging to build a light-hearted tone of voice: the first thing purchasers see is the statement “healthy cereal that doesn’t taste like this box”. But it also lists all the health credentials on the side of the box in large font. 

Magic Spoon’s juxtaposition of nutrition and nostalgia is more than a market differentiator; it helps to justify the product’s higher price point than the average breakfast cereal. And the idea that consumers are experiencing something unique is reinforced on the back of the packet, which details product information under the heading “why we’re special”. 

5. Who Gives a Crap

One of the unexpected beneficiaries of the global pandemic was Who Gives a Crap, whose subscription toilet paper sales soared after panic-buying consumers stripped supermarket shelves bare. At the start of the coronavirus crisis, WGAC sold 28 rolls of toilet paper every second, with 500,000 people signed up to the brand’s wait list.

But it’s not just a right place, right time scenario that has driven the company’s success. Who Gives a Crap has injected personality into the traditionally non-glamourous world of household paper products through its brightly coloured packaging and light-hearted tone. 

Every element of WGAC’s packaging design builds a connection – from fun suggestions about what to do with the box (build a cat mansion or use it as a cheap coffee table), to promoting its sustainable credentials; every toilet roll is made from 100% recycled fibres or bamboo, and Who Gives a Crap gives 50% of its profits to charities that help build toilets

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