Why does toothpaste come in tubes?


Toothpaste tubes have been supplied to consumers in the same packaging since it was first introduced in the market. The design possesses a set of cons including:

  • Product wastage
  • Aesthetically unattractive after use
  • Inability to put product back inside the tube
  • Inconvenience of use

The question here is that, why has the design not been subject to modification to become more effective? Various arguments have surfaced regarding this concern.

Alternate designs have been introduced in the past including one of a bottle which was originally designed to save the consumer’s time. Instead, people ended up wasting more time trying to figure out their way around using the product. Some even happened to misuse it. In addition to that, unlike the tube, the bottle provided no visual indication for repurchasing purposes as the consumer had no idea about the amount of remaining product in the bottle. Hence, the cost of manufacture for this new and improved design surpassed any possible benefits.

Many argue that the mentioned cons are not as pressing of an issue because toothpaste tubes are low-cost items. Product wastage is inevitable. Frankly, many would not be too concerned owing to the low cost. Toothpaste tubes are normally locked away in the bathroom shelf so whether they look aesthetically pleasing or not is irrelevant. Yes, the product once dispensed cannot be put back inside but again, the low product cost provides the consumer with the luxury to be slightly wasteful.

Others highlighted the industrial aspect regarding this situation. These tubes are following a standard design protocol that has been well acknowledged by people all around the world. Had it been so revolting, there would have been changes introduced by now. Wastage is a form of indirect consumption for the industry. It is a fast-moving consumer good (FMGC). The earlier you discard the product, the more beneficial it is for business because you are already on your way to purchase a new piece. Industries simply do not care for wastage. As for aesthetics, a change would have only surfaced had the improved tube design cost the same for manufacturing and most people only happen to pay attention to the actual product and not the package it comes in.

Some simply question the necessity for this entire debate and the unrealistic expectations projected from a tube of toothpaste. The standard design is believed to be optimal for the following reasons:

  • Low cost of manufacture and thus low retail price
  • No maintenance required
  • Ease of storage due to compact form
  • No easier way to squeeze out a semisolid in the required amount

In conclusion, while it may seem to be less wasteful in the long run, the currently manufactured tube design is well accepted globally for all the above-mentioned reasons. The added cost along with accompanying cons outweigh any possible expected benefits.



April 27, 2017

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