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Symbols help P&G help consumers

To combat consumer confusion when repurchasing feminine protection products, P&G adds recognizable symbols to its Always-brand package.
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Graphic redesigns are often recommended by marketing departments in an effort to invigorate sales by spicing up the looks of a tired or outdated package. For Procter & Gamble's Always-brand feminine protection pads that wasn't the case. Like many of the Cincinnati-based consumer marketer's brands Always is recognized as a category leader. Trouble was P&G consumer testing determined that with a plethora of such products crowding retail shelves women had a difficult time finding a specific brand or variety. "We were looking for a package redesign for Always that would make it less confusing for consumers looking to repurchase the product" says Elaine Plummer a P&G spokesperson. "When a woman takes the product home and it meets her needs the next time she wants to buy it she wants to be able to go out and select it easily. So the new unique symbols we've incorporated into the new packaging will make identification simpler for the consumer." Packs carrying the redesigned graphics began shipping in February. P&G worked with Landor SAS (Cincinnati OH) to develop the symbol graphics for the 12 different varieties of Always products. For example packages for Overnight Maxi pads include a star symbol while Ultra Thin Long Maxi pad packs feature a diamond. Besides using a symbol in the upper-left corner of the main panel of the low-density polyethylene film overwraps P&G also adds informative copy. Supported by copy An arrow and banner graphic carry the phrase "New remember your diamond symbol." A top panel contains a lengthier description: "You are currently buying: Ultra Thin Long Maxi with wings." That's followed by an illustration of the package and its matching symbol. The copy also says "Continue to find your product by looking for this diamond symbol." Corrugated cases are also printed with a symbol that matches those on the LDPE film packs inside. "Case symbols help the trade by assisting in faster and more accurate stocking of the product" Plummer says. Landor branding director Phil Duncan elaborates on the symbol design. "We developed this idea of a symbol that doesn't necessarily relate to anything in the package other than to serve as a design element to remind the consumer that this unique shape matches up to the product that best meets her needs. We had to use symbols that would be immediately recognizable and understandable without saying anything that would be inappropriate for this category of product." The primary packaging material is flexo-printed in six colors though Plummer says it's not P&G's policy to reveal packaging suppliers or technical details. One apparent advantage for P&G is that the graphics redesign was made she says without requiring any structural changes to packaging materials. For the North American market Always is packaged at two facilities one in Greenville NC another in Canada. When asked about consumer response Plummer believed it was too early to make a judgment since the product only recently has reached shelves throughout North America. But based on the company's consumer testing she feels the packaging helps meet a need. "There is a statistic that shows that fifty-three percent of consumers end up purchasing a different product from what they wanted when they went to the store" she says. "Often they don't remember the specific product they used before that they liked. With these symbols we can differentiate among twelve products for different uses and absorbencies. We feel the package redesign addresses a consumer need in this market and can help avoid the dissatisfaction that comes from selecting the wrong product."

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