The doorbell rings. You stop what you are doing, whether it’s writing that long overdue email, clearing away the weeds in the back garden, or adding that je ne sais quoi to the pan before your dinner guests arrive. The satisfaction you felt when you clicked ‘add to cart’ comes rushing back as you spot the delivery driver through the front window, clutching the unmistakable branding of your latest buy.
You’re not imagining it. Retail therapy is real. Buying things makes us feel good. It’s part of our DNA. Those hunter-gatherer instincts to see something and make it ours, make it hard to resist those impulse buys and the convenience of online shopping has made it so much easier to fuel those fancies. According to Statista the number of digital buyers has increased by over a whopping 800,000,000 since 2016 and as more and more brands move to the online retail space, that number is only going in one direction.
Then there’s the package itself. No longer just a means to an end, the package has become as much a part of the consumer experience as the products on the inside. An extension of a brand's identity. Just think Tiffany’s iconic little blue box or the Toblerone prism. A brand’s packaging is an important marketing tool and helps them to stand apart in an overcrowded marketplace. Like a kid on Christmas Day, the packaging is designed to entice you in, to make the unboxing experience enjoyable and memorable, to keep you invested and wanting more.
“In a competitive marketplace, packaging is so much more than just placing your product in a box — it’s an opportunity to “wow” your customer!” - Medium
In fact, unboxing has become something of an unassuming sensation in recent years, with thousands of online videos of buyers unveiling their latest purchase swirling around the digital world. According to Trusted Shops over 90,000 people type ‘unboxing’ into Youtube every month and it’s hard not to draw conclusions about the psychological drivers behind this phenomenon. Pamela Rutledge, director of Media Pyschology Research Centre compares this obsession with a primal curiosity, to want to know “What’s in stuff? What’s behind stuff? We have a natural proclivity to know.” Now more than ever, brands are recognising the importance of packaging as a way of connecting with their audience in a way that can be difficult to achieve through conventional marketing techniques.
Packaging does however, significantly contribute to the plastic waste crisis we are currently fighting, and for some brands that’s just not acceptable. London Bathers, an independent, natural body care brand was founded in 2019 by Chris Long. A copywriter by trade, Chris was itching to channel his creativity into something more personal and holistic. Inspired by the rich British heritage of soap making and craftsmanship, and the tangible, wholesome nature of soap — something he felt was lacking from his work in the digital space — London Bathers was born.
From the very beginning, Chris had a vision for a brand which was not only aesthetically pleasing, but also had a minimal impact on the environment. “We’re trying to be a company that's on the crossroads of design and sustainability. We’re not particularly one or the other but somewhere in the middle. And so, we’re conscious of both elements. We like to have a nice design, but not overdo the packaging and still have those eco friendly credentials to the best that we can. It’s an interesting balancing act.”
“There's a bit of trade off to be made because, you do want to stand out but we’ve bought into the fact plain brown boxes are a lot sexier than some of the really overdone packaging and printing techniques.” - Chris Long, founder of London Bathers
Opting for a stripped back, minimalist look, the London Bathers packaging is almost entirely plastic free, from their iconic glass bottles to their statement cardboard boxes. The only single-use plastic they use is for their refill pouches and even then they offer to take these pouches back and recycle them through a terracycle scheme. Though there are new, more environmentally friendly packaging technologies emerging they are not readily accessible to smaller brands with smaller quantities who have to opt for off the shelf packaging instead of some of the sleeker, bespoke designs. Not only does this make it harder for conscious companies to stand out, but it makes it harder for them to fulfil their values.
The key for London Bathers is creativity. Not only have they created low impact solutions which allow them to deliver their wares to you safe and sound, the result is a packaging design which speaks volumes about the brand and what they stand for. “More and more people don’t like the waste, and our brand aligns with that - less waste, stripped back aesthetic, that whole - less is more - kind of thinking, which I think spills across from my advertising background and saying things in the least amount of words in my life as a copywriter.”
When it comes to cutting plastic out of your life, as Chris says, it’s a bit like climbing a mountain — you’ve just got to take that first step. “People are just sick of their bathroom’s being full of plastic bottles, spilling out of the bin week on week. And the refilling mentality is really kicking in, so the glass bottles that we do, they look great and they last for a long time, and you can just refill them.”
Brands like London Bathers are making it easier to reduce your own individual impact on the planet, not only through the very nature and make up of their products but through their carefully considered packaging.
Chris' Top Hibana Picks
1. The product he's most proud of...
London Bathers - Hand Wash & Lotion Duo
"From the London Bathers range it has to be the Hand Wash & Lotion set. Just because I love the look. It sums up the brand. It’s stripped back, it's simple, it's refillable, it's a little bit different. It’s our original range, so it’s set a benchmark for me about where we want to be with all our products."
2. Something he's had his eye on...
BEEN London - Dalston Recycled Leather Laptop Case
"I love BEEN London. I love their brand and their story. The way they rescue this material from heading to landfills and what they do with it is incredible. I absolutely love their design and their style."
3. Top of his gifting list...
QASA QASA - Nibble Bowl