Nutritional Supplement Packaging: Harmonizing for Health

To build brand awareness of nutritionals, consider unifying your line for greater impact.

Daphne Allen, Editor


A family of nutritional supplements that stands together commands together. At least that's what Enzymatic Therapy (Green Bay, WI), a manufacturer of more than 200 nutritional supplements, vitamins, and herbal extracts, is betting on. Last fall the firm began relaunching its products with a new, unified packaging in order to increase its shelf presence. The new look envelops all products, whether in a bottle or carton, in gradations of the brand's signature blue.

In 1999, Gifts of Nature Inc. (St. George, UT) also relaunched its line, choosing a high-end label look to convey product quality. All products carry national park motifs to convey a natural ingredient source, even those in markedly different sizes.

While both manufacturers attract consumers differently—Enzymatic Therapy's products can be found at health food stores, and Gifts of Nature's products are sold through distributors and on-line—both recognize the impact of a consistent look to product packaging. For Enzymatic Therapy, a uniform package look throughout its whole line creates a shelf presence that dwarfs individual or small lines of competing products, no matter how flashy they may be. And for Gifts of Nature, replicating the same theme from package to package helps distributors tell and retell product benefits with little effort.

Harmonizing the Horde

In late 2000, Mark McCleary, vice president of marketing for Enzymatic Therapy, knew his company needed new packaging and labeling. With 18 different looks, in colors ranging from blue to green to purple, he felt customers were confused. "You can't build brand equity when consumers don't know what to look for," he explains. As a result, "there weren't a lot of cross-brand purchases."

After a year of market research, which included holding focus groups and gathering feedback from its sales force, as well as packaging and labeling redesign, Enzymatic Therapy launched its new look with two goals. McCleary explains, "Develop a base brand architecture to communicate branding better, while retaining the blue color of previous flagship products to maintain a point of heritage; and increase shelf presence by making product labeling cleaner and easier to read and by standardizing placement of certain elements."

Consumers will now find what McCleary calls a "sea of blue" on store shelves. "The background of both the labels and the cartons, if applicable, starts with dark blue at the top and grades down into light blue at the bottom, reminiscent of earlier designs in which we featured a blue sky with clouds." Since the product name is printed in the lighter area, the blue gradation suggests the shine of a spotlight upon that name.

In addition, the company name has been moved from the bottom to the top, structure and function claims are printed on the front in brackets, and the product category—two words that tell consumers what health category the product targets—is printed in the bottom left. "We have cleaned up the label. It is now easier to read, and key information is printed in areas consistent from one package to another," adds McCleary.

When Gifts of Nature Inc. redesigned its labels, Label Express helped the firm apply silver-foil-accented labels (right) to its entire product line.

Since most of the product line is packaged in bottles, glue-applied labels convey the new look. However, some products, like Heartburn Free, are packaged in blisters, so their cartons need to echo the gradations seamlessly. Beck Carton (Milwaukee), part of the RxPerts Printing Alliance (which consists of Beck Carton, Flottman Co., and Pharmalabel), produced the carton.

"To achieve the color gradient for the blue, we needed to ensure that we had consistency from run to run," explains Beck Carton's Randy Lindert. "In this particular case, we did a test run. Once the test run was approved, we took the gradation from the graphic file and archived the blue gradation. Now, anytime we receive a file from Enzymatic with the blue gradation, we take out the supplied gradation on that particular file and drop in the archived file approved by Enzymatic. This allows us to keep consistency from run to run. We also have to make sure we keep tight standards on the inks we use and the material used to print the carton."

Enzymatic Therapy is also looking into upgrading its labels, which are currently glue-applied labels that are offset printed. Des Laffan of Pharma-label (Greensboro, NC) says that his firm is working with Enzymatic Therapy to convert the labels to a pressure-sensitive label produced using either flexography or digital printing. "They have very short runs and more than 500 stock-keeping units, so digital may be a perfect fit. We'll be running a series of samples using both print methods within the next few weeks."

Upgrading the Masses

Through more than 7000 worldwide distributors, Gifts of Nature Inc. markets a full line of liquid mineral extracts derived from organic plant material. Founded more than 40 years ago, the firm has always tried to convey its organic roots in a manner consistent from package to package. One challenge for the firm, however, was finding the tools for applying such consistency to packages in sizes ranging from 1 to 8 oz.

In 1996, the firm began to use Label Express (American Fork, UT) for its labels, which carried a picture of Red Mountain in Utah. "We printed simple four-color-process labels on paper label stock," explains Dana Kirk, Label Express's technical director for labels. "The image was a simple desert mountain scene centered on a long rectangular label. On either side of the mountain scene was black text for directions, ingredients, etc."

In 1999, Jim Rhoades, president and CEO, decided an upgrade was in order. "We wanted to tell a story at a glance that our product line is unique. So we decided to print several mountain scenes from national parks in southern Utah, from areas such as Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon, and Snow Canyon. At the same time, we wanted to enhance our look."

Label Express, now a part of the Impaxx Label and Packaging Network, helped them revamp everything. "The labels were converted to a full-colored, four-color-process printed look. Around the vibrant desert scene (above, below, and on both sides) is a four-color-process scene depicting Native American pictographs," says Kirk. "To top it off, silver foil borders on the top and bottom and silver drop shadows were added. This silver was printed using a new technology often called die-less foiling, which we have trademarked for our use as Print Foil." The labels were printed on a material called Primax from Avery Dennison's Fasson Roll Div. "It is a very high quality material that endows a very rich appearance to the label," adds Kirk.

Rhoades feels that such a move has helped enhance his firm's credibility. "They helped us create a first-class label. The new label is so beautiful, and it obviously isn't a quick-print label. So many start-ups use quick-print labels because they don't have a lot of money, so we needed to differentiate ourselves from the start-ups." He adds that the foil labels have enhanced distributor confidence in the line, making them more enthusiastic in selling. "We have top compliments from our distributors."

Label Express was able to transfer the look of the 8-oz-bottle labels to the 1-oz bottles through the use of its Reveal Estate label. Reveal Estate is a standard pressure-sensitive wraparound label with a pull-tab at one end. The label is printed on both sides. To read the inside, consumers simply pull the resealable lift tab.

"We are able to print nutritional information on the backside of our label," says Rhoades. "At the time, no one had even suggested that possibility to me. Because of that innovation, we got our pictures on that label."

Similarity for Success

In these two instances, conformity has paid off. Rhoades reports increased sales, adding that customers—and even competitors—have all been impressed with the upgraded labels. Since the Enzymatic Therapy redesign just started rolling batches out late last year, McCleary says it's too soon to report any changes in demand. However, he is confident that consumers will be pleased with the label's cleaner look. Both realize that if customers benefit from one product in a line, they will be inclined to try another—but only if they can find it. And having your brand look consistent increases their chances.

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