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Article | December 31, 1999
Tom's uses 'natural' look to package wellness products
Packaging design strengthens brand identity for Toms of Maines new natural wellness line.
When well-known natural toothpaste maker Toms of Maine decided to launch a line of cough cold and wellness products last September its main packaging design objectives were to use a natural look to strengthen brand identity. The Kennebunk ME-based company adopted old-fashioned glass bottles and informative paperboard cartons to achieve its brand identity goal. The product line includes several formulas packaged in sizes from 1.7 oz to 10 oz. Products are filled primarily into glass bottles but also into tins and polyethylene terephthalate containers. In this story we focus on the most popular sizes the 10-oz and 8-oz bottles. We were out to provide a strong brand identification says Rod Williams manager of packaging design at Toms of Maine. A lot of competitive wellness products on the market describe what the product is supposed to do for you yet you cant even find out who makes it. During research consumers identified the Toms of Maine products already on the market as highly recognizable and rated the company high in credibility and trust. Because of this the company wanted to continue to emphasize the name as much as possible on their new products.The Toms of Maines green and white logo dominates the front cartons panel and the primary bottle label. Also important was to provide information such as usage instructions and the Toms of Maine philosophy. To do that the company uses not only labels but also a printed insert packaged in the carton. In order to make sure all the legal copy and consumer information was readable we put the bottles in cartons where that extra space gave us room to add informative inserts. The glass bottles supplied by Chelsea Bottle (Chelsea MA) are a stock amber round (for the 8-oz size) and a stock amber bottle with sloping rounded shoulders (for the 10-oz size). Both resemble old-fashioned apothecary bottles. The amber color was chosen to convey the feeling of conventional tonics. But it also protects the product. Traditional medicinal products are usually packaged in glass says Williams. The amber color was selected mainly because UV light could negatively affect the product formula. Williams believes there are fewer barrier concerns with glass than there would be with a PET container.
In addition to toothpaste Toms of Maine makes liquid products like mouthwash. The bottling and labeling line the company uses for these products is also used for the new wellness products. Theyre filled on a bottling line that uses equipment thats been running for several years. It starts as the liquid product is pumped into a hopper mounted above a liquid filler. Empty bottles are hand-placed on an unscrambling/accumulation table after they are visually inspected. The bottles are conveyed into the filling machine 10 at a time by a starwheel. Bottles are filled simultaneously at 70 to 100/min before theyre fed out onto a conveyor. An in-line digital scale weighs the bottles before theyre conveyed to a capping machine. The capper places a 28/400 screw cap on 10-oz bottles; 8-oz bottles have a 28/400 child-resistant cap both from Chelsea.
An operator then applies a polyvinyl chloride shrink band to each bottle. Supplied by Ultrapak (Dunkirk NY) the bands are reverse-printed by gravure in three colors. Banded bottles are conveyed into a shrink tunnel. The conveyor feeds the bottles to the labeling machine. The labeling machine can be changed to apply the front/back labels on the 10-oz bottles or the wrap labels on the round 8-oz bottles. Toms of Maine has incorporated a hot-stamp machine with the labeler. That unit stamps a lot number and expiration date on the pressure-sensitive labels. The labels are a ?-mil proprietary coextruded polyolefin from CCL Label (Rosemont IL). Theyre surface-printed flexographically in four or five colors.
After labeling bottles are conveyed to a packing table. Here four employees inspect the bottles and pack them into corrugated shippers. From there the bottles are taken by truck to another facility in Kennebunk to be placed in 18-pt clay-coated newsback cartons on a vertical cartoner. Cartons are supplied by Bicknell Fuller (Peabody MA). The cartoner erects the cartons and inserts the leaflets and then the bottles are hand-placed into the cartons. The cartons are offset-printed in seven colors. Toms moved the product to a second facility because of lack of space. The company is currently looking for a larger building to hold its entire filling and packaging line. Cartons are shrink-wrapped in bundles of six on an L-bar sealer and heat tunnel.
Williams says sales since September have been good though he couldnt provide specific numbers. I think the products are doing well in part because of the Toms name and because consumers now know the products are natural. He believes the packaging certainly helped convey the natural essence of the products and helped sales grow. The line includes decongestants herbal supplements with Echinacea Echinacea tonics cough and cold rubs and a muscle balm. They are sold nationally at grocery and health food stores and retail for $3.99 to $21.99.
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