Consumers 'Agree': redesign a success

An unusual back-panel hologram label helps newly relaunched line of hair care products achieve phenomenal sales growth.

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Image might not be everything, but it’s a crucial factor in packaging, especially when a product relaunch is involved. So when Schwarzkopf & Dep Inc. decided to completely revamp the veteran line of Agree® shampoos and conditioners, the Rancho Dominguez, CA-based company sought bold and eye-catching packaging. A larger bottle complete with a back-panel hologram label not only makes the package noticeable, but has also helped boost sales of the shampoos and conditioners by 80% and 55%, respectively. All labels come from Promo Edge (Neenah, WI).

On shelves since the 1970s, the Agree brand has undergone five redesigns in its lifetime. The latest renovation was completed in November 1998 in conjunction with an award-winning formula change for the line’s shampoos and conditioners. Schwarzkopf & Dep decided to throw out everything but the Agree name and start from scratch, a move that’s proved lucrative.

Its first step was to follow the ‘show me the shampoo’ trend in shampoo packaging. Thus, the switch from beige, opaque high-density polyethylene bottles to clear polyvinyl chloride. With the brightly colored shampoo now shown off in transparent bottles, Schwarzkopf & Dep decided to add some flash and sizzle. “Something that would really pop through the formula and draw attention to the bottle,” according to Chris Gagliano, brand manager at Schwarzkopf & Dep.

Getting noticed

The hologram idea originated in-house, says Gagliano. “We had noticed oral-care brands using the effect since mid-1998, and we noticed it had a great effect on the shelf—it had a great ‘pop,’” he says. “We figured we could translate that into shampoo.”

Agree shampoos now sport back-panel labels with a bubble-patterned hologram on one side. The hologram side faces the front of the bottle. It is visible through the shampoo, bottle and clear front-panel label, creating the effect of tiny, iridescent bubbles floating in the product. Spectratek Technologies (Los Angeles, CA) supplies the Bubbles™-patterned holographic material, made of metallized 1.5-mil clear polyester. Promo Edge flexo-prints the back side of the material with two layers of white UV ink, creating a base on which to print product information. Product information is printed in black on the back of the label, followed by a layer of UV varnish for scuff resistance.

Promo Edge also die-cuts the back-panel label into its oval shape, another important facet of the package. Because the new product formula emphasizes vitamins, Schwarzkopf & Dep wanted packaging that would help consumers associate vitamins with Agree shampoos and conditioners. The label shape is designed to visually complement the list of vitamins on the front label by looking like a vitamin capsule, according to Gagliano.

For the front-panel shampoo labels, Schwarzkopf & Dep chose a 2-mil polypropylene label stock from Avery Dennison’s Fasson Div. (Painesville, OH). Labels are rotary screen-printed in two colors and rotary letterpress-printed in three colors, plus varnish. Printing is done on one machine, all in one pass.

The line’s translucent HDPE conditioner bottles received a new twist, as well. Because the conditioners are opaque, not clear like the shampoos, a back-label hologram would not have been visible through the cloudy liquid. Instead, Promo Edge hot-stamps the Agree brand name on the front-panel conditioner labels with the same holographic material used for the back-panel shampoo labels, delivering a graphic unity to the line. Label stock for the front-panel conditioner labels is 2.5-mil Fasson® FasClear® 250 from Avery Dennison. Like the front-panel shampoo labels, they’re rotary screen-printed in two colors and rotary letterpress-printed in three colors, plus the hot stamping and varnish. Schwarzkopf & Dep uses Avery Dennison’s 3.4-mil Fasson Primax® 350 label stock for the conditioners’ back-panel labels. Promo Edge prints them via rotary letterpress in one color plus varnish.

Larger sizes, larger sales

Schwarzkopf & Dep decided to change not only the look of the line, but product size, as well. Previously packaged in 15-oz bottles, Agree shampoo and conditioner bottles now contain 25.4 oz of product.

“We felt that the trend was moving toward larger sizes, and we moved forward with it,” says Jeanne Altinawi, buyer for the Agree line at Schwarzkopf & Dep.

Bottles are still extrusion blow-molded by Monarch Plastics (Brampton, Ontario, Canada), but Schwarzkopf & Dep purchased new molds to accommodate the larger bottle size. In addition, the sides of the bottles taper at the bottom, giving the bottle an oval shape that “represents the shape of a vitamin” capsule, according to Altinawi. Monarch ships the finished bottles to Schwarzkopf & Dep’s Rancho Dominguez plant, where they are filled, capped and labeled. Fortunately, accommodating the new bottle shape and size on the company’s existing filling equipment required only minimal adaptations. Altinawi says the inexpensive modifications involved the purchase of change parts, such as starwheels and bottle guides.

After filling, shampoo and conditioner bottles are topped with 28-415 snap-top, smooth-wall dispensing closures from Seaquist Closures (Mukwonago, WI). The injection-molded PP caps are silver to match the holographic label and hot stamping. The company then applies the printed, pressure-sensitive labels from rollstock on a Model 4000 labeler from Shorewood Engineering (Minnetonka, MN).

Although neither Altinawi nor Gagliano would quantify the investment necessary to redesign the package, Gagliano does say that the total package is more expensive to make, primarily because of the holographic label. That increase has been rolled into the cost to the retailer, increasing product prices by an estimated 16% on average, according to Gagliano.

Higher prices haven’t bothered consumers, as sales for the shampoos and conditioners soared in the six-month period following the relaunch. The 80% growth in shampoo sales and 55% growth in conditioner sales obliterate the industry’s growth average of 1% to 2% during the same period. The five shampoo varieties and four conditioners are available at groceries, drug stores and mass merchandisers, retailing for about $3 each.

Gagliano says the company is very happy with the redesign. “Agree focuses on the packaging to provide on-shelf advertising,” he says. “We largely attribute the increase in dollar sales to the eye-catching packaging on the shelf.”

In addition, feedback from consumers has been very positive. “I keep hearing, ‘Oh, I noticed Agree on the shelf. . . I’ve seen your new brand. . . When did you relaunch it? It looks great!’” Gagliano notes. “It seems like everyone, whether they’re buying or not, at least notices what we’ve done.”

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