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Will this be another failed sustainability effort? When sustainable packaging design goes wrong

Arm & Hammer's new laundry detergent sheets "Power Sheets" packed in a paper carton is a MAJOR shift towards sustainability for this plastic-based industry, however, the packaging design is why it may not stick around.

There is a major problem in sustainable packaging design and it's not just greenwashing. ❌ Packaging design

The image shows the new detergent sheet packaging.

Design challenges like this aren't easy.

It's a mountain to climb when the innovative product breaks consumer visual association with a traditional packaging form (detergent jugs have been the standard forever).

❌ Here's where the design went wrong:

The wording "Laundry Detergent" being a sub-line below the headline text can easily be missed. The headline text "Power Sheet" holds no value to the consumer yet. "Is it a stronger dryer sheet?")

So what does the browsing consumer do when they're confused? (you have under 15 seconds of eye time)...

....Dramatic pause...

Opt for another brand packaged in the jug. (Uh oh!)

Doubling down on the bad news, it's an easy confusion to have when the detergent cousin is the dryer sheet, also in a paper carton...and it's right next to the detergent on the shelf.

The perfect storm.

✅ How to solve for this type of design challenge:

When launching an innovative product that is disrupting the deep-rooted product identification habits of consumers it's never a bad idea to break some brand guideline rules for the first few retail cycles. Or spend A LOT of money running ads literally everywhere with product education.

It sounds so simple, make the "Laundry Detergent" text big and bold so it is VERY CLEAR WHAT THE PRODUCT IS. (But the brand guidelines!)

Once consumers are familiar you can begin to reduce the text size back to normal brand hierarchy levels.

I can't be alone in my theory that it's better to have stable sales and adoption rather than consumer confusion.

A confusion that actually can harm other product lines if the consumer opts for a competing brand and ends up sticking with them.

I guess time will tell on this one 🤷‍♂️


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