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Fourteen Years Later….with Pack Innovation…Timing of Change?

…For Mr Muscle

Fourteen Years Later….with Pack Innovation…Timing of Change?




Back in 1999 when we started to put Pack-Track online we identified an important new pump concept on a facial skincare in Japan.  Qualitie Liquid Facial Cleansing was classic Japanese elegance in styling but what excited us was the pump mechanism, instead of pushing the liquid through a nozzle, it filled up a little dish in the closure… You placed the facial pad on the dish soak up the cleanser and off you go.

Actually it was more than that because you would actuate the pumping mechanism by pressing down on the dish with the pad –consumer, product and pack working in harmony.

We have followed this neat piece of dispensing technology around the world, in France it was used by Klorane Bebe and boldly claimed to be innovative, although we knew better.  That was 2010, in 2011 I found it Germany and took the photo you see here, there it was nail varnish remover under the brand name Basic – Nagellackentferner.

There is something telling going on, the dispensing innovation started in premium skincare and 12 years later ended up in tertiary brand cosmetics at a low price point.  The innovation is both clever and thoughtful but I wonder if it was ahead of it’s time for a mass audience, its identified life so far was skincare, babies and a small gender bias European market, all narrow market propositions?


This looks like it will change as S C Johnson have introduced the same device for Windex, a multi-purpose hard surface cleaning and care brand in the USA, it has landed in Australia and here in the UK too under the Mr Muscle marque.  So it’s now big volumes, making easier a household chore and there are refill packs as well, it all adds together to make a powerful opportunity that is timely. 

Combining timing of change and market to my mind is what gives this pack innovation legs, I think it will run now, 14 years after we found it J  And whatever your markets are you need to know first –that’s what both Pack-Track and CPS International are about!


A Short (Two) Thoughts on the Power of ‘K’

A Short (Two) Thoughts on the Power of ‘K’


We all talk a lot about pack structure as the Holy Grail in packaging but in doing that we are in danger in being blind to the power of simple graphics. The example I want to use is Kellogg’s Special K.

Special K has a long history with a positioning associated with health and slimness and represents a product move for Kellogg’s away from wheat to rice; over the years the defining symbol has been the ‘K’. The image on the top of the page is from France which says it all in a way, the brand, the sector, recognition and communication. I say this because it is a purely graphics  device on the pack that is doing the key brand communications work. Special K has several pack formats or styles across greater Europe and here I share a few of them to compare the Power of K and their structures:

1 At the top is a mass display from France

2 Alongside here is the UK pack with a chamfered

vertical right front crease     

3 But consider this French version with a tertiary competitor who has printed curves both sides –looks like a chamfer

but is not…                          

4 And from Turkey a metallised flexible pouch that’s free standing through its gusseted bottom base           TR.jpg                                                             

Different markets have different packs and there is a battle for positions and country values pack adjustments but ‘K’ must be one of the most powerful graphics devices in FMCG, it seems to have the potential to work well on any pack. Messages that come through for me are that after long time promoting the brand, 1) simple graphics branding can be very powerful, 2) the success of this is done without special decoration techniques, sure Kellogg’s standards are high but this is not new or special (pardon pun) decoration that is achieving this result.

One caveat to challenge all this philosophising for me is that Special K and cereals are synonymous, so when I saw this ‘K’ pack recently –it’s on the left here- and its classic pack format I thought it was cereals in the snack arena. I was wrong; it is a snack version from the brand.

An interesting conundrum, Special K = cereals and are we –or is it just me- find the format association so strong in that it overrides product; Marmite used its black and bright yellow typography to extend the brand and it opened up new products and pack formats. The ‘K’ is powerful but will it need alternative –the market norm- pack formats to strike acceptance in other sectors and categories, or can Special K in its traditional cereals format –structure and branding- gain market share and gain all the associate cost benefits too?

As I say, A (two) Thoughts.


Viva la Différence!

DANONE Yogurt Pots Shout Out!

Viva la Différence!

I find myself in a strange position of waxing lyrical about a yogurt pot!  It’s an in-line FFS yogurt pot, of a type that has been around for 30+ years but this one is different and different between countries.  In France it is not only lean and mean on materials compared to it’s UK counterpart, it is skillfully coordinated and showing off; actually I am nervous of saying it is chic, trés French and attractive but it these things and it does shout out from the shelf in a simple but overt way.

What I am I talking about?  It is the new Activia yogurt pot from DANONE and in particular the raised DANONE name to the bottom of the pot, it is a brilliant development!

First have a look right at the cherry flavour pack photographed in-store in the UK; here you can see the old pot on top and the new underneath.  The new DANONE has a raised surface to the bottom giving away labelling area for this special branding feature.  But it is more than that, go next to the cherry (cerise) flavour in France, here they don’t have the board wrap around but just the linked pot top to do the collation.  Net result is a very impactful presentation on shelf with less material.   

Now have a look at the French DANONE Actvia Nature image at the top of this blog, this I see as the brand standard. Dramatic and I reckon you can see the debossed expression DANONE from 3 metres away, if I am right, that is quite an achievement.

Lots of things going on at once here in a synergistic fashion.  Firstly it is twin layer plastics with white to the inside and green to the outside.  The name has been formed to the lower half on a curve enabling it to be read from many angles, there are no stress markings anywhere, the colour co-ordination between green label and green pot is good right down to the gloss highlight line all delivering continuity.  If you are interested the FFS is Arcil who have a reputation for thermoformed shaping.

As I say the result is powerful piece of simple packaging that moves a commodity format into a distinctive branded item, through format shaping and especially the detailing, which plays off very well against reduced labeling carrying the brand variant; throwing away the collation sleeve exposes the packaged brand in all its drama.   

Wax lyrical about a yogurt pot –yes, there are a lot of lessons here we can all draw on, whatever our packaging interest, in moving commodity into branding to up the value J


All Change at Waitrose Ready Meals

Coated aluminium trays make an impact.

All Change at Waitrose Ready Meals

A few years ago ready meals were all PET trays with the occasional board based alternative.  Have you noticed how this is all changing at the premium end –and bit below- in UK supermarkets?  There has been a steady move to aluminium trays over several years now; it adds some authenticity to the ‘cooking experience’ for people like me who tend to rely on this meal format too much.  Importantly it is the convenience in that move of using an oven, rather than the microwave, in getting to a good natural result, the food is there, hot, crispy, colourful even, in its own ridged tray sans plastics, akin to a durable kitchen tray without the washing up.

trays2The aluminium tray use to be in its bright metallic state but not any more in Waitrose.  Now they have revamped there ready meals offering, traded up I judge and in that move have coated the aluminium trays with a cream lacquer both inside and out –suddenly natural aluminium looks utility!  I can show you some comparisons here, on-the-shelf, both with uncoated aluminium and black PET.  It is all very striking contrasting with the black sleeve and utilising some shaping now and again.

It’s too early to say if it will stay the course and price points are different too (launch discounts in place) but it is making a decisive impact on-the-shelf for that first moment of truth.  I do wonder though what consumers think about having their food in contact with this lacquer and if this raises concerns with them.     ….and I do wash up, courtesy of my dishwasher, all the aluminium trays I use and carefully recycle them every fortnight…

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