Williams Trading article

(Note: This story appears in the April 2021 issue of SE Magazine)

Industry opinion seems split concerning hygienic packaging — valuable or hindrance?

*Story by Dianna Stratton

The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted consumer shopping habits up and down the supply chain, including the way durable goods are packaged. One year later, the pandemic has influenced consumer mindsets regarding product safety and potential contamination concerns well beyond the coronavirus. The emergence of hygienic product packaging gestures such as tamper-evident and tamper-resistant seals on high-end pleasure products indicate a potential, important industry shift in how we (manufacturers, distributors, and retailers) do business.

The topic of hygienic seals was recently discussed twice in the Pleasure Professionals Place (P3) Facebook group. In January, Michael Cox, Fun Factory Director of Sales, shared that Fun Factory was considering the addition of a hygienic seal to their product packaging but wanted to seek industry input before making any changes. Over 50 comments later, it’s clear that industry opinions seem to be evenly split between those who value hygienic packaging (or aren’t bothered by this trend) compared to those who believe hygienic packaging makes their jobs harder.

Satisfyer is one popular brand that added hygienic seals to product packaging long before the pandemic. Other brands with hygienic packaging are WOW Tech, Lelo, and Mystim. Many of the luxury pleasure products brands realize that their packaging is an important part of their brand’s image and identity. Prioritizing a safety-first approach to manufacturing and distribution builds customer loyalty and trust.

“With regard to the various WOW Tech brands, all of our devices are intended to come in contact with genitals and bodily fluids. Therefore, it’s important for our customers to have trust and confidence that they are receiving a device that has in no way been contaminated. We hope that by adding a hygienic seal that this will provide some comfort to the consumer,” says Kim Card, Territory Lead North American Sales.

For Fun Factory, hygienic seals are standard on European product packaging. However, their US products—which are also manufactured in Germany—arrive without the seal, which adds both cost and time due to the bifurcated manufacturing process.

Cox explains that no decision has been made at this time regarding Fun Factory USA packaging, because of the strong, yet diverse opinions on the matter.

Still, it’s hard to ignore the value of hygienic product packaging.

“A hygienic seal means the product is ready for the customer to open and use,” Cox adds. “A seal affirms to customers that nobody has tampered with the product between manufacturing and purchase.”

Whether or not the reality of living through a modern pandemic will shift consumer behavior regarding product packaging remains to be seen. According to The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website, “In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging.” Nonetheless, consumers may still perceive an increased risk and increased awareness regarding product packaging safety. Even though some manufacturers may develop more hygienic packaging to assuage consumer fear, companies like Nu Sensuelle feel the extra measures are unnecessary.

Patrick Lyons, Nu Sensuelle’s Chief Strategy Officer explains, “At Nu Sensuelle, the consumer research suggests that a hygienic seal does not impact whether a consumer would purchase a product or not. Material and power, however, are consistently the two main selling features that are most important to consumers when choosing a pleasure product. By not adding a package seal, it is easier for the retailer to demonstrate the power and the material, as well as ensure the product is charged before a consumer leaves their store. Overall, this leads to a more satisfied customer experience.”

Ultimately, because consumer preferences have rapidly changed throughout the pandemic, there is greater potential for more manufacturers to shift in favor of health and hygiene packaging safety. For brands that add hygienic seals to their packaging, product testers will serve as a critical resource to help retailers demonstrate the product’s materials, power, and features.

Currently, all products with hygienic product packaging provide free testers with a minimum order. Retailers seeking product testers should reach out to their Eldorado Sales Account Manager for more details.

Dianna Stratton is the Marketing Communications Strategist for Eldorado Trading Company.