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Consumers score some beverage concentrate packages high, some low

Consumers score some beverage concentrate packages high, some low
Consumers evaluate current packages on the market for beverage concentrates during a focus group.

What’s the ideal beverage concentrate package? Something that is small, slim, portable, easy to squeeze and ergonomic, according to consumers participating in research organized by TricorBraun Design & Innovation, a business unit of TricorBraun, one of North America’s leading providers of bottles, jars and other rigid packaging components.

Current packages on the market, however, come up short in many ways, especially for powders. Participants prefer liquid concentrates instead of powders for two reasons: Powders are messy and don’t always dissolve properly. Said one participant, “We've tried the powdered versions and when you open the packet, it can be a mess, especially when my kids are making it. I like [the liquid concentrate] much better because if there's a drop or two on the counter, I can just wipe it up.” Another one added, “The problem I have with the powder is not so much opening it but that it doesn't dissolve when the water is cold. It just sits as a lump at the bottom of the glass.”

But liquid beverage concentrate packages weren’t totally immune to criticism either. Consumers involved in the research expressed concern that these bottles might leak in their purses or bags.

Further discussion around closures revealed a couple insights:

• Participants liked closures on liquid concentrate packages that seal with an audible click so they know it is securely closed and won’t leak.

• They liked valve-style dispensing closures for their easy dispensing- and portion-control properties. The latter is something that packages of fixed-portion powdered concentrates don’t deliver, noted some participants. When asked “Do you like having the dispensing valve?”, one participant answered, “Absolutely. Then you're not worrying about spilling all over the place. And you want some control to be able to use as much or as little as you want.”

Convenient packaging reigns for consumers who are on the go—and who isn’t these days. Participants shared a preference for packages that enable one-handed use, as well as for closures that are easy to open and securely close.

Package size and shape also plays an important role in purchase decisions of beverage concentrates. Participants expressed a desire for one package that is convenient and comfortable for everyone to use: children, adults and seniors. Some existing bottles, they noted, are too large and won’t do. As this one participant said about one of the better sample packages being evaluated, “It's got the shape to fit right in your hand and it’s perfect for the kids' hands too.”

Before being sold on a package’s functionality, though, these consumers need beverage concentrate packages to have good looks, with bright, bold graphics that appeal to them and their kids.

Two focus groups, each lasting more than an hour, were held at TricorBraun Design & Innovation offices in Oak Brook, IL, on June 16, 2014, and conducted by NSM Research Inc., a market research group that has assessed consumer preferences for packaging since 1996.

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