How the Right Packaging Can Boost or Hinder Sales: Meet My True Nature

As any entrepreneur knows, a great product hinges on solving a real problem for a consumer–and solving it better than everyone else. So it’s no surprise that many great companies were born by founders trying to solve a problem for themselves, then realizing the scope of the opportunity. But how does a company scale an intuitively great idea and present a new idea in an innovative way? How much does packaging play in being a product differentiator?

When Hubba brand, My True Nature, launched a line of eco-friendly baby and kid bath products, the company was deeply tuned in to how important quality ingredients were to parents. The company channeled that insight into investing in packaging that reflected the company’s commitment to environmental values and toxin-free products for families. Read on to find out how packaging affects the bottom line and how to choose the right manufacturer to partner with.

Being in the business of solutions

President and CEO of My True Nature, Kelly Boyd, knew that her products would offer an undisputed alternative to the mainstream baby bath products on the market. Like many mothers, she wanted to create a safe home environment after her first baby was born. Not finding a line of soaps and shampoos that had 100% natural ingredients, performed as well as typical mainstream products, and were completely free of genetically modified organisms, parabens, petrochemicals, phthalates, sulfates, synthetic dyes, synthetic fragrances, triclosan or preservatives, inspired Kelly to start producing them herself- “before I knew it, I had a line of products that my friends and family loved. I started selling them by word of mouth, and the business has grown from there.”

The inventing didn’t stop there. She added cartoon labels to the bottles to make her kids laugh and make bath time even more fun. “My kids loved them, and that’s when the idea for TubbyTown™ (a make-believe bath-time wonderland), was born.” The residents currently include Dewey the dragon, Daisy the skunk, Clio the teddy bear and  Ollie the octopus. Each has its own distinctive personality, and its own dedicated bath-time product. If that wasn’t enough to sway parents in their purchasing decision, Kelly applied her personal insight into designing a product that would also try to reduce her environmental impact. As she says, “having two strawberry blonde children with very sensitive skin, I could physically see the impact of synthetic ingredients on their skin and hair.  So I put the two together and worked hard to come up with packaging and ingredients that were the best for them and for our environment.”

Want your product to stand out as eco-friendly? Be prepared to do your research

Since the brand story came together, the next thing to solve was the packaging. But did a mission to be ecofriendly make it more challenging to find suppliers or manufacturers, Kelly says very much so. “We found that many suppliers and manufacturers want to maximize their short term profit, so look for the cheapest way to do things which is almost never the most ecofriendly way.  Unfortunately, we have seen that this costs us all more in the longer term.  But not everyone is capable of thinking that way.  And certainly not all investors think that way.”

Finding out the premium costs for higher quality, eco-friendly manufacturing pushed Kelly to innovate yet again to find a way to make an accessible price point for parents. When conventional products can offer a lower price point, offering cost savings to the end user was challenging. “Raw materials for conventional shampoo, for instance, cost pennies where raw materials that are high quality natural & organic cost real money. At My True Nature, we try to make our products as economical as possible without sacrificing quality but it isn’t easy.” The company encourages customers to purchase the products in gallons and finds most of their regular customers do this.

The way your packaging shows the product can affect your sales

For Kelly she really wanted to use totally clear plastic bottles so that people could actually see the product. “You will notice that most companies don’t do this,” she says, “it requires your product to be perfect which is a really hard thing to do.  Most companies opt for colored bottles to get past this issue. I am proud that we are able to pull it off and let people see exactly what they are buying and putting on their skin and their kids’ skin.”

Kelly was also determined to use bottles that were recycled plastic from the get go. She used to use 100% recycled plastic, but was very disappointed to find that though this worked for online sales, on a store shelf, people just didn’t like to see the recycled plastic. “It has a very slight greenish tint which the bright lights in stores made worse,” says Kelly, “so it just didn’t really go which was a huge disappointment to me. We still use bottles that are a % recycled plastic. And all of our bottles, pumps and caps are manufactured in St. Louis, MO.  So all made in the U.S., but not all 100% recycled.”


Decide if transparency is important to your brand and stick to your values

In the process of getting quotes for packaging, Kelly was advised by someone who worked at a manufacturer that 60-75% of products they saw manufactured did not accurately report their ingredients; printing one thing on the label and putting another thing in the products. And it was “always a cheaper version of course. So that is what we are up against. My True Nature will hold strong to great quality raw materials and complete honesty and transparency with our customers no matter how much more it costs us!”

Before playing the volume game, experiment

For Kelly, she says her biggest piece of advice for choosing packaging would be to try many things before buying in large quantities. There are a lot of factors to consider and trying out several different things is important before you settle on the one you will use. “We went through 5-10 different types of pumps, for instance, before we found ones that worked well with our products. Tubes are great, for instance, but at least with our manufacturer, they require huge manufacturing runs to make it worth it for them to gear up the tubes machines, so not a great fit for everyone. Also, if the tubes aren’t closed correctly, they can burst on the shelves.”