AroMetrics packs refreshed

A good-looking and good-smelling package redesign for Valvoline car fresheners cuts through the ‘noise’ at retail.

Pw 8024 Aro Group Db
Vision and smell are powerful influences—and Ashland Inc.’s Valvoline division engages consumers with both senses with its redesigned AroMetrics packages of automotive fresheners. In addition to an attractively modern new design, the blister-card packs feature a reconfigured “sniffer hole” that permits consumers to sample the scent, from coconut to platinum to very berry, before purchase.

Redesigned and re-introduced in early 2007, the AroMetrics products encompass five product lines and five package formats. The relaunch culminates a process that began when managers of the Lexington, KY, company saw an opportunity in the automotive air freshener market when it debuted the AroMetrics brand in 2004.

“We wanted to enliven a moribund market with high-performing new products with new delivery systems to kind of shake things up,” says spokesman Barry Bronson.

The premium blister-card packs did just that in the auto air-freshener segment, which had been characterized by cellophane-wrapped, pine-scented cardboard trees. However, in the ensuing two-plus years, what had been a lively design had grown stale. AroMetrics enlisted Group 4 ( to reevaluate the packaging, and performing consumer testing. “We asked ourselves if we could make the package work that much harder,” says AroMetrics marketing manager Julie Gondak. “We found a lot of clutter on the shelf and wondered how we could be clearer about our point of difference.”

While retaining a blister card format, the improvements rev up the packaging. The previous packaging comprised a printed oval “racetrack style” SBS card and polyvinyl chloride blister containing the product. Similarly, a blister thermoformed from PVC sheet (from several vendors) is adhered to an SBS backing card (from several vendors). A new printed insert inside the blister provides impact by adding a dimensionality to the packs that they did not have before. “This also pushes the brand and the product benefit literally forward to the consumer,” Gondak notes.

AroMetrics comprises five basic blister-card formats for five types of fresheners in a variety of scents, totaling more than 35 items. Depending on the product, PVC sheet thicknesses range from .01” to .015”. Backing cards are 16-pt clay-coated (to enhance printing) SBS printed flexo in three to six colors with a single color on the reverse; insert cards are 14-pt clay-coated SBS printed in six colors.

A national awareness and usage study conducted by Group 4 with 1,000 consumers involved four package versions including the existing package used as a control. Gondak says that feedback made the variables easy to prioritize. “What we heard was to dial up our point of difference for the ‘refresh’. We’re limited in copy space in which to discuss the scent, the ‘try me’ differentiation feature, the brand, the form and how to use it, and its longevity, so we had to be brutally picky about what to have on the package,” Gondak explains. “Those were very tough decisions.”

Group 4 and Valvoline enlisted input from a major retailer that changed how the products would appear on the shelf.
“That input validated our direction,” says Gondak. It also provided Valvoline with two actionable changes:

  1. Adjacent packs on peg displays were hitting against each other when hung on peg display. By trimming the backing card’s footprint by 1⁄4”, the packs hung freely.
  2. Product lighting tailed off sharply for packs hung deeper in the display. The printing gradation was lightened by 30% to compensate.

“What we found is that we could scale that gray back and we would actually end up with the desired look due to the store lighting,” noted Gondak. Priorities perfected. Apart from an overarching strategy to “shout” premium, Gondak says another priority was to emphasize the products’ 45-days’ longevity, compared to some air fresheners that last less than a week. Printed on the insert card, it parallels the branding in prominence.

However, the main product differentiator was to leverage the “sniffer hole,” which permits consumers to smell the fragrance before purchase (see sidebar on page 48). Gondak notes that through the redesign it kept the same packaging materials due to the complexity of fragrance compatibility issues. The package opening was also kept convenient: the backing card simply peels away from the blister.

Suggested pricing ranges from $3.99 to $5.99, the same as before.

Coinciding with the redesign, Valvoline launched a new group of AroMetrics products. These included a dual-scent for car vents; a smaller, more discrete car vent freshener; a heat-activated diffuser that installs in a car’s cigarette lighter; and a mixed scent.

Gondak says that the product reception has been “phenomenal. We’re still phasing it in, but we’re seeing incremental share growth with both retail automotive and mass merchandise chains. This has given retailers something to be excited about in a category where there is a lot of noise and a lack of innovation.”

It’s an exciting difference that consumers can see and smell.

Related Articles: For more see

Podcast: Listen to an interview with Arometrics managers at

Companies in this article
More in Materials & containers