If shoppers are expecting a pump bottle, then give them a pump bottle


Not too long ago, Trader Joe’s started selling hand sanitizer. In terms of the product quality and cost per ounce, it’s a good value. However, I would never buy their brand on a regular basis. The reasoning is simple: it doesn’t come in a pump bottle, which means I would have to pick up the whole container, open the top, flip it over, and squeeze it to get the product out. That’s a lot more work than just using a pump.

In this case, there is a gap between customers’ expectations for how the product is commonly sold, and the way the vendor has designed it. When something is typically offered in a pump bottle, that’s probably the type of container that you should use for your own version. Sure, you could try to be different and use a flip or push or screw top. But keep in mind there’s always a tradeoff. Even if your design is better in every way, some portion of customers will avoid the product simply because it’s not what they were expecting.

Maybe you’re targeting a niche that doesn’t care about conventional design. That type of customer may very well favor a unique take on things, even if the benefits aren’t immediately obvious. But if you’re going after the mainstream market, remember that familiarity carries a lot of weight.