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In the eye of the beholder

Good looks and marketing muscle characterize this year's cosmetics and personal care winners in NACD's annual packaging competition.
FILED IN:  Package design  > Structural
Sleek, inverted PVC bottles (left) for private-label shampoos and moisturizers won the gold award. Silver went to a tube with a Sleek, inverted PVC bottles (left) for private-label shampoos and moisturizers won the gold award. Silver went to a tube with a Applying the three-panel wraparound labels to H20 Plus?s Mint Ice line proved to be a labeling feat.

Award winners in the cosmetics and personal care category of this year's National Assn. of Container Distributors' (NACD) packaging competition prove once again that it doesn't take an expensive proprietary container to carve out a unique look. (For a complete roundup of all NACD winners see p. 46.) Perhaps proving this the most was a clear inverted extrusion/blow-molded polyvinyl chloride container for shampoo or lotion which won the category's gold award. Sold by The Spa at Doral® Miami FL under its own label the products are produced and packaged by Ready Care Industries (RCI) a private-label manufacturer based in Denver. RCI manufactures the products for other resorts and spas as well as under RCI's own label. "We initially supplied these products for use in health club shampoo dispensers. So many customers loved the products that the clubs wanted to sell them at the front counter" says Gary Robie RCI president. Distributed by Packaging West (Aurora CO) the elegant Euro oval container and matching polypropylene snap-on closure not only promote the spa they also provide it a healthy profit at $8 to $12 per bottle. RCI contracts with Quality Impressions (Denver CO) to screen-print one-color graphics and copy that prominently features the spa's logo. Although the package has a high-end look it's accomplished with simple stock components which also allows RCI to handle small runs economically. "We can produce these cheaper at low volumes than most typical private-label manufacturers" Robie says. The bottle is manufactured by Golden West Packaging (Newport Beach CA) and is complemented by Seaquist's (Mukwonago WI) Euro-style closure designed to be the base of an inverted container. The closure features a toggling device for easy one-handed dispensing. Tube triggers kid-appeal A coextruded tube of low-density polyethylene used for a line of children's personal care products came in second winning a silver award for distributor Caliber Packaging (Cerritos CA). Caliber sells the tubes with preapplied closures to Minneapolis MN-based IBN International. Garry Lowenthal IBN's president and CEO says the tube/closure combo is used for a new retail line of 16 Kids' Choice(TM) products that include 8 oz of antibacterial body wash tear-free shampoo or hypoallergenic bath bubbles. The IBN executive recalls that before the Kids' Choice line of tubed products hit the market "we had sold product with a toy inside a tube but the tube was clear." The problem with that says Lowenthal "was that the light would go through the clear tube and it was hard for the consumer to see that there was a free collectible toy inside. We found through focus groups that the tube didn't have much shelf presence. You had to be about three feet away or less to notice that there was a product in the tube." IBN's new tube eliminates that problem. The tube is coextruded with clear LDPE for what becomes the front half of the tube and white-colored LDPE for the back. The change says Lowenthal has been dramatic. "Our research indicates that our shelf presence now extends to 10 feet" he says. "With the white background the light now goes through the tube and reflects back. Consumers say 'hmm there's something in there.'" Color-coded tubes and closures are manufactured by Tubed Products (Easthampton MA). The supplier applies an injection-molded polypropylene closure to each tube. The tubes are printed offset in up to six colors with licensed cartoon characters and related graphics on the front tube panel usage instructions ingredients and UPC code on the back panel. IBN fills tubes at roughly 45/min at three plants in the Twin Cities area. A collectible toy character and the liquid product are filled into the open top end of the tube which is then crimped and sealed. The 2" x 7" tubes are displayed standing on their 22/400 closure usually in colorful corrugated displays. Retailers often merchandise these displays at end caps or in cereal aisles to maximize sales appeal. Initially IBN worked with an outside design firm to create the colorful logo and graphics showing the characters in action. IBN has licensing agreements with the likes of Warner Bros. and Marvel Characters to add hand-painted Tiny Toon Adventures(TM) characters and Marvel Comics Super Heroes(TM) into the tubes. On the top of the back panel is a note to parents that shows them where to cut the tube open to remove the toy after the product is used. "The Kids' Choice line of tubed products came out in November" says Lowenthal providing a bit of marketing history. "The Kids' Choice slogan is 'we make washing fun!®' We had sold a glycerin-based soap with a collectible cartoon figure in a blister-carded pack. We wanted to continue that idea with a tube product." The tubes retail anywhere from $2.99 to $3.99 at major retail outlets nationwide. They're also exported to nearly 30 different countries. Lowenthal gives Wal-Mart credit for helping IBN develop a new market with the children's body wash line. "At a meeting with Wal-Mart they asked us if we had a kid's body wash" he recalls. "They said if you do you'll be the first in the market with it. We realized that with a formulation change from our antibacterial liquid soap we could do that." Lowenthal says that as a result of the Kids' Choice tube introduction "sales virtually tripled overnight. According to our retail reports sales have jumped 246 percent. We expect to produce about 4.2 million tubes this year." Minimalist clarity At first glance packaging for H20(TM) Plus's new Mint Ice line of bath products for men and women-which won a bronze award in NACD's cosmetics and personal care category-looks rather simple: a flask-like polyethylene terephthalate bottle with minimal graphics holds clear green soap or white lotion products. "Most of the packages we have are clear" says Laura Elliott manager of packaging development and engineering at the Chicago-based company. "We try to use different clear shapes and let the texture and color of the products differentiate the brands." To emphasize the clear look H20 Plus chose to keep the back panel unlabeled instead relying on a front label that wraps around the two sides. The UPC code and required labeling information is relegated to the sides leaving only the product name and company logo on front. This minimal look caused H2O Plus maximum work. "The label application was the most difficult part of the product" says Elliott referring to the precise alignment necessary to eliminate any bubbles creases or crooked labels. "It took some doing to find a supplier whose equipment could apply the label without any bubbling." Though she prefers not to disclose the labeling supplier Elliott says she finally found help through W. Braun (Chicago IL) which distributes the 11.5-oz clear PET bottles and owns the mold. They're single-stage stretch/blow-molded by Plastique Micron (Sainte Claire Quebec Canada). Wallace Label Group (Lisle IL) screen prints the pressure-sensitive polypropylene label in black with an additional white used for UPC codes. Seaquist Closures (Mukwonago WI) provides the flip-top PP cap. The lotion product uses a PP dispensing pump from Owens-Brockway Closure and Specialty (Toledo OH). The four bottles hold Mint Ice body wash shampoo conditioner and body lotion. The lotion retails at $14 other products at $12.50. Smaller 3.5-oz bottles are available for gift sets.

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