Eyes and Dyes: Drivers of the Rinse-Off Product Purchasing Experience

Before a consumer ever smells, feels, or tastes a product, their eyes send signals to the brain deciding whether to pick it up from the shelf for further exploration. In other words,...

Before a consumer ever smells, feels, or tastes a product, their eyes send signals to the brain deciding whether to pick it up from the shelf for further exploration. In other words, consumers first experience a product through sight. The significance of visual appeal is one of the reasons why the consumer packaging industry continues to grow year over year and will soon exceed $1 trillion in annual revenue. In the rinse-off market, it is not just packaging that matters. Consumers are judging liquid soaps, bar soaps, shampoos and conditioners by the looks of the products themselves.

A Lesson from Food & Beverages

In a Sensient study of more than 1,000 consumers, vibrantly colored beverages outscored clear beverages by nearly double. The preference for color beverages likely stems from the role sight plays in how the brain interprets taste. Scientific American Magazine writes:

“Although sight is not technically part of taste, it certainly influences perception. Interestingly, food and drink are identified predominantly by the senses of smell and sight, not taste. Food can be identified by sight alone—we don’t have to eat a strawberry to know it is a strawberry.”

Read more here.

Color and Emotion in Consumer Purchasing

The link between colors and consumer trends have been widely studied and documented. According to Kissmetrics, 85% of shoppers state color as a primary reason for purchasing a particular product—and that’s just the beginning. Color can drive purchases among certain audiences. For example, Kissmetrics suggests impulse shoppers reach for products that are red, orange, royal blue and black. Color also elicits emotions via color psychology. Color psychology is especially important in today’s climate of anxiety, fear, and uncertainty. Consumers are looking for any way to relieve stress in their lives. Therefore, fragrances and their associated color can play an integral part in reducing stress levels.

Ingredients to Dye For

While the branding and packaging implications of color are ever-present, rinse-off products also rely heavily on enticing ingredients and fragrances. Does sight have the same impact on perceived smell and touch as it does on perceived taste? This is a much more difficult question to answer, but research from Mintel suggests the answer is yes.

According to Mintel, approximately 25% of products touting or listing lavender in their product description contains water-soluble dyes. That number jumps to 33% for citrus products and 45% for berry products (recall the strawberry example from Scientific American). Extrapolating the data from Mintel’s data suggests that 1) successful brands are coloring their rinse-off products, and 2) color play an important part in conveying the essence of a rinse-off ingredient or fragrance.

Now, let’s take a look at a few eye-catching rinse-off prototype formulations from Sensient:

Lavender Bath Salt

This bath salt is colored with Sensient’s natural sweet potato extract, part of the Natpure® Xfine line. When added into water, Natpure Xfine Potato SP313 changes the water from pink to blue as it dissolves. The extract can just as easily color dry ingredients such as bath salt during formulation. Lavender oil and flower petals make the crystals truly lavender infused.

Colorful Flower Bomb

The usual bubble bath gets a burst of color and flower power with any of these bath bombs. Sensient’s Unicert-J dyes provide beautiful, stain-free color, while Natpure Feel-M Eco, our natural emollient, soothes the skin and leaves it feeling soft. Formulators can pair color with fragrance to tap into the connection.

Precious Stone Soap

Bring peace, serenity and a touch of spirituality to the daily routine with our soap inspired by precious stones. The imagination knows no bounds with our wide range of dyes and pearls.

Brighten Lives

Color is fun, captivating, expressive and, amid the chaos and uncertainty of the current pandemic, a subtle pick-me-up. Sensient offers countless colorful formulations in addition to those highlighted in this article, including our Orange Shine Shampoo BarAnti-Brassy Conditioner BarCandy Body Washing Cream and more. Enter our world of cosmetics colors.

If you like more information, please fill out our contact information form. We would love to hear from you – and stay safe!

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