Super glue brands are stuck on innovative packaging

Industrially, they are known as CA adhesives, the initials standing for cyanoacrylate, their main ingredient that bestows their properties.

. In consumer markets, however, they are known as super glues and are sold under a variety of brand names. Various additives make the end-product more suited to a particular application; repair vs. craft, for example. Still, all super glues bond quickly and strongly to a wide variety of surfaces. That sameness being so, the brands rely heavily on packaging as a differentiator.

The same properties that account for the popularity of super glues account for the challenges associated with their use. Compared to their conventional counterparts, super glues are less forgiving of mistakes. With super glues, the key to making their use a positive experience is precision: the ability to apply the glue where needed and in the amount needed. The brands meet that challenge with packaging of the proprietary, patented kind.

A number of products incorporate the term, super glue in their brand names, but none more so than The Original Super Glue®, making for a logical starting point of discussion. The product line formulas include a liquid and a gel; beyond that, product line extension mostly is based on packaging variety. There’s a “break-away tip” squeeze bottle, an improvement over a tip that has to be snipped with scissors or a blade. An additional advantage is that a break-away tip results in an orifice of uniform size, in contrast to the size of the orifice resulting from a snipped tip, which can vary, depending on how far down the tip is snipped. Another packaging variety is a bottle capped with a “flow-control dispenser.” Consumers concerned with glue getting on unintended surfaces can choose the “spill-resistant bottle.” Other packaging options include tubes and pens. Adding to variety are “single-use mini-packages.”

A notable entry in the category is Krazy Glue®, arguably the first to bring widespread attention to the category. The means was a television commercial featuring a construction worker hanging from a steel beam, due to the fact that the hard hat that he’s wearing was glued to the beam. The commercial is such a part of the brand’s persona that, even today, long after the commercial has stopped airing, there’s a depiction of it on the blister cards. Product variety includes liquid and gel; however, here too, product line extension is heavy on packaging. There are tubes, pens, and bottles; and, with each, the dispensing feature plays a starring role. An example is that some packages have “a self-piercing nozzle” for initial opening. A feature on other packages is a “precision tip” that also is “no-clog.” When the means of application is best served by spreading, there are those packages with a “brush-on applicator,” that has “no-clog bristles.”

More recently, Gorilla Super Glue has taken its place among the category leaders. The face of a gorilla stares out from the label, emblematic of the product’s claims of strength and toughness. The gorilla also is featured in whole-body mascot form in a series of television commercials, in each handing the product to a consumer in the throes of a repair task. Like its competitors, the product is available in liquid and gel; and, like its competitors, packaging is front-and-center in extending the product line. An example is an “anti-clog” cap, which, together with a metal pin housed inside, produces an “airtight” seal that advances reusability. Currently, however, the brand is thumping its chest over its “micro precise” dispensing nozzle, fitted atop a bottle that sports ergonomic grooves for better grip. Emblazed in orange and black, the package is missing only a cape in its super-costume appearance.

Loctite® Super Glue—true to form—has formula variety boosted by packaging variety. As for the latter, there are bottles, tubes, self-piercing caps, and brush applicators, similar enough to those of the competition so as not to warrant further details. There are, nonetheless, bottles with “longneck” nozzles for hard-to-reach spaces. Also deserving of mention is an ergonomically designed bottle that, according to the amount of squeeze applied, dispenses varying amounts, from drops to streams. That same bottle has bellows-like “wings” (might have been better to call them channels) that direct glue that gets on the outside of the bottle away from the fingers.

The discussed brands don’t constitute an exhaustive list; in fact, there are others under such well-established names as Elmer’s and 3M, in addition to private-label brands. There’s been no intention of slighting the non-mentioned brands nor of implying the superiority of any mentioned brand. The objective, instead, has been to present the category as an example of one that understands the potential of packaging as a strategic tool, a source of competitive advantage, and a brand-builder. To anyone ascribing a different objective to me, my response is, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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