During the last week of February, hand sanitizer sales in the U.S. were up by 300% compared to the same week a year earlier, according to market research from Nielsen. The following week, sales were up by 470% compared to the same week a year earlier. The skyrocketing sales and aftershocks of the pandemic is creating a surge in the hand sanitizing category. Flexible Packaging spoke with EO (Essential Oils) Products President Tom Feegel about the importance of transparency, ingredient selection and package design for this newly competitive sector.

FP: How has customer perception of hand sanitizer evolved?

Tom Feegel: We’ve seen an increasing receptiveness from people across every demographic to try natural versions of products they already know; people are craving “cleaner” formulations, elevated experience, and brands with a purpose and mission. While we have seen our community of sanitizer loyalists continuing to grow, COVID-19 has brought about a newfound level of awareness about the importance of clean, safe, healthy hands.  We are seeing brands that typically make goods outside of the personal care space beginning to produce hand sanitizer to meet the demand, and while we expect that many will eventually return to “business as usual,” we do expect that the consumer mindset will have an elevated awareness around the importance of minimizing exposure to germs as much as possible.

Can you describe who your target customers are?

Tom Feegel: EO’s target customer is seeking connection: to themselves, to others and to the present moment, while remaining ever-curious about the power of plants and the earth. Our consumer seeks out elevated products in sophisticated scents made from pure essential oils that enhance the every day.

Describe your process of developing packaging for the brand.

Tom Feegel: Package design at EO Products goes through many iterations before ever reaching our community, spanning across product development, research and development, quality, operations, marketing, sustainability and finance to ensure we are delivering the best-possible solution while maintaining our commitments to being a zero-waste B-corporation manufacturer.

What was the inspiration for EO’s Resealable Hand Sanitizing Wipes and the packaging design?

Tom Feegel: At EO, we believe in infusing the things we do every day with the permission to pause and connect to the present moment. The inspiration behind our hand sanitizing wipes was to create a product that enlivened the senses while keeping hands safe and clean. As a zero-waste manufacturer, we (and our sustainability-minded community) are constantly considering the environmental impact from creation to point of consumption of all of our products. Putting several wipes in a resealable format enabled us to deliver an incredible user experience and moment while also reducing the amount of packaging required per wipe.