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Salons sample new pack

Regis salons give away an unusual sample pack printed with a $1-off coupon to entice customers to purchase regular-sized hair-care products.
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In the past six months Minneapolis-based Regis Corp. has begun giving away sample packs of shampoos and conditioners at its Regis Hairstylists MasterCuts and Trade Secret salons nationwide. Holding 0.5 oz (15 mL) each pack contains enough for two uses. Printed onto the top portion of the pack is a $1-off coupon that Regis hopes will stimulate sales of its 4- 10- 16- and 32-oz hair-care offerings usually filled into high-density polyethylene bottles. Regis estimates that 4.5 million samples were produced. When they're gone so too is the promotion.

"We wanted to have something unusual to give to our customers as samples and this promotion has been a good one for us" says Regis public relations manager Andrea Johnson.

The sample packs used by Regis come from Xela Pack® Inc. (Bridgewater MI). The material used to make them has a total thickness of 12 mils. From the outside in it consists of paper/linear low-density pe/foil/LLDPE sealant.

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Xela Pack refers to these packages as "Coupon Packs." It forms them from flat die-cut blanks provided by an unidentified vendor that prints the paper in five colors plus varnish via letterpress.

For this project Xela Pack also serves as the contract packager. Operators at Xela Pack manually load blanks into five magazines on a custom horizontal form/fill/seal machine built by Xela Pack's sister company Gentile Packaging Machinery Co. (Bridgewater MI). Blanks are transported past a coding station where a date code is embossed onto the printed side of the card. Next the card indexes to a forming station that folds the card in half vertically. At the forming station the pack's unusual concave bottom shape is created in a proprietary process.

Later the two sides are heat-sealed. Filling is done five-up as dosing pistons enter five packs for the fill. The machine produces between 50 and 60 packs/min.

Once filled packs are indexed to a top-sealing station where heat and pressure are used to complete the package. After manual inspection packs are placed in cases and shipped to Regis for delivery to its individual salons.

Reduced mess

One of the key reasons Regis appreciates the pack is that it reduces the mess common to many sample packs made of flexible materials. Once those packs are open their contents tend to spill out. When a consumer cuts the Coupon Pack open at its top seal area it takes 7 lb of pressure to expel product. After the first use says Xela Pack the pack can be held upside down and it won't leak out (a Packaging World test confirms this). Xela Pack refers to this as a reclosable pack saying it's a combination of the material structure and heat-seal that permits reclosing without spillage. They won't say precisely how this happens. There is no zipper on the pack.

Before using the Coupon Packs Regis used HDPE bottles or foil packets for samples usually in a 2-oz size. The smaller 0.5-oz sample in the current Xela Pack structure is more economical from a product standpoint. From a packaging materials perspective the current Xela Pack pouch costs about one-third of the bottle according to a Regis representative. She says that unlike with a bottle Regis does not have to maintain inventories of screen-printed bottles and caps. She says the Coupon Pack costs roughly the same as foil pouches that Regis has used for samples but the downside to the foil pouches is that they don't provide consumers with the same "reclosability."

The company says that previous packs used a coupon (usually in the form of a pressure-sensitive label) that had to be manually applied by salon employees. That's no longer necessary because the $1-off "coupon" is printed on the top portion of the pack. Before supplying the Coupon Pack Xela Pack provided initial sample packs to Regis that used a separate coupon applied to the pack with a cold adhesive.

Regis describes itself as "the world's largest salon company" operating and franchising more than 3 salons worldwide. In the U.S. salons include strip center salons (primarily Supercuts) and Wal-Mart/SmartStyle Family Hair Salons.

The sample packs are used for 26 hair-care products including TIWI a new line sold by Trade Secret salons. The TIWI line is described by Regis as phyto-aromatherapeutic shampoos and conditioners that use special oils proteins and extracts "to cleanse moisturize and detoxify hair." Regular-sized TIWI products sell for $6 to $25.

While Johnson says the new sample packs haven't been out in the market long enough to gauge the success of this promotion she does say "they've been very well-received by our salons across the country."

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