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Starting a Tradition of Packaging

February 5, 2011

Brochure for the original Lowney Snack Size Product Line

My first exposure to the power of packaging came when I graduated from business school.

I started working for Standard Brands‘ confectionery division, Lowney’s, and worked in the Boxed Chocolates group, which consisted of POT of GOLD boxed chocolates, Valentine’s Day Boxed Chocolates, Bulk chocolates and New Products.  I was assigned to the last two – Bulk and New Products.

One of my product lines consisted of chocolate morsels packed in cello bags.  The presentation was hardly what you’d call appetizing and usually the only place I could find these products was the bottom shelf of a drug store display.  In these nether regions, it was hard to spot the product because it was so dark in color.

Another problem was that, when the product was exposed to heat, it would begin to melt and leave brown smears over the inside of the cello bag.

Not surprisingly, this product line was not generating anything spectacular in the way of sales.

Within a few weeks of joining the company, I got the idea of putting the cello bag inside a folding carton and, after presenting the business plan, received approval to implement.

Putting the cello bag inside a carton did a number of things:

  1. It enabled the product to be merchandised much closer to eye level.
  2. It enabled us to print brighter, more appetizing graphics on the front panel to appeal to shoppers
  3. It provided us a platform to claim “Sealed to preserve freshness”
  4. The carton would hide any signs of melting. (while it wouldn’t impact product safety or flavor, it just looked unappetizing.
Our goal was to offer the product for an everyday price of $1.09 and feature at 99 cents, which, in those, days, was fairly aggressive. For the five flavors we had in the product line, we adopted a common size carton and weight declaration to help reduce line changeover costs in the plant and to present a consistent brand presence on shelf.
The product was launched in 1978, and quickly became one of the division’s top-selling product lines.  The improved merchandisability of the carton made it appealing to not only drug stores, but also mass merchandisers, so it gained distribution as a result of the package change.  The product line has never been advertised and about the only print it gets is in weekly flyers when it’s on special.
Today, the product has changed little from its original concept, though it’s now marketed by Hershey Canada.
I can still find the product in the same size box as in 1978 and it still gets featured at 99 cents. The box still declares, “Sealed to preserve freshness”.  One thing that has changed is that the product line has more flavors. When we launched, OH HENRY, GLOSETTES and BRIDGE MIXTURE were part of another brand group and we didn’t have permission to package these brands in the new format.  That’s since changed, so the line now has some brand identity it previously did not have.
The results from just making a change to the packaging format were amazing.  We made no other changes to the product.
This was just my first success with packaging.  I’ll share some more in future posts.
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