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Predosed packets take herbals mainstream

WhiteDove Herbal’s market reach soars in move from glass vials to cartoned packets and in adding bilingual copy.

Pw 6638 White Dove Herbals

Think “herbals” and think medicine bottles—and all that implies. WhiteDove has reinvented both the product and now the packaging to make herbals more palatable to consumers and to mainstream retailers.

“Our concept is to make it easy for people to take herbs, and we make them taste better because they’re flavored with organic honey and natural flavors,” says chief operating officer Pete Hay.

The Boulder, CO, company was started by John Hay, Pete’s father and founder of Celestial Seasonings.

“[John] Hay and his partner Mo Siegel blended herb teas with other flavors and made them taste better,” explains Pete Hay, “and that’s the same concept that we introduced here.”

The new packaging may be a prescription for a category-changing product improvement with much wider appeal, especially against a backdrop of rising healthcare costs and a sputtering economy that has increased consumers’ interest in alternative medicine.

Hay points out that glass-bottled herbals, the core of the do-it-yourself medicine industry, have a negative “medicine-taste” connotation along with confusion about dosage. “Bottles are boring,” he adds, before citing the positives of the WhiteDove Herbals packets:

• The direct-to-stomach tincture is more effective than gel caps
• Bilingual packaging
• Convenient, predosed format

“The packets remove any dosage confusion and break down the ‘barrier’ of compliance,” notes Hay.

The five elixirs are each sold in 8-count paperboard cartons that sell at the company’s Web site for $10.99 and at retail stores for $9.99. The packets can also be sold singly by retailers, adds Hay. Versions include a sinus and nasal remedy and sound-a-sleep elixir. The company’s products have been sold in stores in 1- and 2-oz vials that the company, under another name, has offered for about a dozen years.

More volume

The new format was launched in March as 5-mL packets. However, this summer the herbals’ dosage is being upped to 7.5 mL.

“Feedback indicated that the packets were not perceived as having enough product,” Hay explains. “We’re adding another 2.5 milliliters to eliminate that stigma.” The current carton contains 40 milliliters of product, yet it’s priced similar to the 30-mL (1-oz) bottle, so in reality, it’s a better value, he points out.

WhiteDove is using the same packet size until current supplies are depleted and without a price increase, Hay says. The change will also be accompanied by the required graphics indication of the new dosage.

Hay characterizes the product’s target audience as consumers aged 18 to 54. “Our research shows a growing trend in America of alternative medicine users—herbal believers—and those called ‘do-it-yourself’ doctors,” he explains. “Because information is so readily available online, a lot of people do self-diagnoses and then look for alternatives to regular prescription medications. We have a target market of about 150 million people in the U.S. alone.”

In addition to its Internet site, WhiteDove is targeting natural retailers such as Whole Foods as well as mass markets sales for this new format. The company has presented to chains such as CVS, Rite-Aid, Kings Super, PathMark, and HEB, Hay says. Texas-based HEB reaches a large Hispanic community that Hay expects to help WhiteDove to enlarge its market in the Southwest and elsewhere (see bilingual sidebar Bilingual cartons translate into opportunity).

“We’re looking to get nationwide distribution because of the fact that in the packet format it doesn’t look like herbs,” says Hay. “We’re not trying to make it herbal as far as keeping a traditional look. We’re trying to take herbs mainstream with the flavoring and the packaging. Simplicity, portability, and convenience are what this is all about.”

The foil laminate packets from Label Technology ( are decorated with four-color flexographic print. “They did a great job,” says Hay. Package graphics were developed by a Colorado-based marketing company, Ascent Marketing (, which has handled all of WhiteDove’s packaging graphics. The chipboard folding cartons, supplied through a nearby Xpedx ( location, are printed offset in five colors on 16-pt SBS paperboard by All Packaging (

The packets are contract packaged by a company that receives the hand-blended herb formulae from WhiteDove. Hay says filling proved complicated because no one had ever filled a herbs and honey elixir before: “Every formulation is different, each with a different thickness and consistency,” he says, adding that the process was developed through trial and error.

The bottle-shaped packets feature a die-cut hole for pegged display and have a tear notch for easy opening. “That makes it real quick to open and use,” says Hay.

Consumer feedback has been great, Hay says: “We’ve had great responses to just how easy the packets are to use, and consumers love them.”

That’s a positive remedy to a packaged product challenge.

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