What's the "Down" Side to Upside-Down Packaging

May 1, 2005
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+

What’s the “Down” Side to Upside-Down Packaging
By Robert Mcmath
Since the late 1990s, when both Heinz and Hunt’s ketchups were introduced to the U.S. market in upside-down plastic squeeze bottles, there has been an increasing number of adaptations of such inverted packaging.
Now I understand that the concept behind the upside-down sitting-on-the-cap container is convenience, with the idea being that the contents can be dispensed more readily and with less squeezing. But for the life of me, I have never understood the fascination with these packages. They leak, they don’t empty easily and they are tippy. I have yet to see an upside-down bottle that is as stable as its upright counterpart.  
Gillette and several others have tried to package shampoo and liquid soaps in various forms of upside-down containers over the years, but those packages have failed to achieve consumer acceptance. Too often, they leaked because the consumer had not snapped the top on securely or screwed the cap back on tightly. And, invariably, some of the contents of these bottles were left inside; they couldn’t be squeezed out!
Another consumer complaint over the years is that upside-down ketchup bottles, when stored in the refrigerator door, are more prone to fall out as the door swings open or closed.
Procter & Gamble recently adopted the inverted package for its new Zest liquid soap, designed primarily for use in the shower. The bottle, which sits on an oversized, round screw top with a snap closure, curves gracefully to the right and creates a corresponding indent on the left so the package nests neatly with its brethren on the retail shelf.
But, looking at the new Zest package, my first reaction was that the inverted bottle is top heavy: the top of the bottle is wider than the cap at the base, although it is about as deep as the cap is round. An upright version of this bottle would be steadier than this inverted rendition.
Another concern is the size of the bottle (too big for women with small hands to easily grasp and squeeze) as well as its less-than-stable stance when it is placed in its proper upside-down position.
There is no question that adopting this upside-down approach to the package of Zest—especially with a distinctive blue and gold swirl design on the front panel—helps the brand stand out on the shelf among other liquid soaps and body washes. And the visual appeal of a given package, especially a new one, is always important as shoppers roam store aisles. Zest has strong brand recognition and the eye-catching graphics on a wrap-around shrink label will attract attention.
But package usability—the convenience and ease of handling by the consumer—is often what determines success. You might make the first sale with a package that consumers don’t find particularly stable or convenient in use. But repeat sales are the key to long-term success.  
The negative experience many people have had—or new users may have—with the upside-down container could make for some unhappy customers for your brand and could jeopardize repeat sales. Let’s just hope that my observations about this package and my concerns over its adaptation prove “baseless”!  BP

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to BRAND PACKAGING Magazine. 

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

10th Annual Packaging That Sells Conference, Chicago, October 2012

Posted Date: October 29, 2013

BRANDPACKAGING’s packaging conference returned for a tenth year with a focus on a single message: Make It Matter.

11/18/14 2:00 pm EST

Perfecting Package Design with Digital Solutions

Brands know that good package design plays a significant role in the commercial success of a product. After all, customer will experience the packaging before they experience the product within. Have you explored all the possibilities when designing a new package, or do time restraints and other limitations get in the way from delivering perfection? Advances in digital printing and finishing technologies now allow brands to explore even wider ranges of design possibilities within their ever shrinking timelines.

Brand Packaging Magazine

brand packaging september 2014

September 2014

 The September 2014 issue features the latest on Standing out from the Crowd.  You can also read the issue at the Digital Editions.

Table Of Contents Subscribe


Design Gallery Volume 11

Design Gallery Volume 11 is not just a study in good design. It’s a look at how packaging can successfully demonstrate structural and graphic innovation, make strong shelf impact, meet consumer, shopper and retailer needs and support and convey the brand story

More Products


facebook_40.png twitter_40px.png  youtube_40px.pnglinkedin_40px.pnggoogle plus