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By: John Ploetz

While I’m a fan of the overall esthetics of C.O. Bigelow products, I think they made a misstep in the custom-packaging for their line of toiletries at Kimpton Hotels.  Had they thought through the entire product-usage cycle, they might have realized that people (i.e. me, in Baltimore for qualitative research) have to take off their glasses to shower, making it difficult to read the small text on identical looking tubes. Thus, their end user (i.e. me again) has a very high likelihood of grabbing the body lotion, mistaking it for conditioner. Although my Bayer Healthcare clients thought I really rocked the resulting “greaser for a day” look.

There are any number of solutions here — different shape bottles, color coding, a mix of opaque and translucent bottles, etc. But it starts with thinking through all the steps of the user experience — from the first physical or virtual impression, to the final act of tossing it into the recycling bin.  Not only will that yield a delighted user, it may even reveal a differentiating consumer insight to leverage in marketing.