Keeping Up with Appearances
The manufacturer of an oral nail care product finds ways to promote daily use.
The cartons use a foldout panel that, when opened, reveals important product information and a see-through window to expose the tablets within.
Biotin can be taken orally to strengthen nails. But lasting results may depend upon regular dosing. According to Merz Pharma-ceuticals (Greensboro, NC), which markets the biotin-containing product Appearex, clinical studies have shown that daily use of 2.5 mg of biotin can improve the quality of brittle nails. In one study, the firm reports, 91% of individuals with brittle nails noted improvement in nail quality after five months of taking 2.5 mg of biotin daily.
Merz first launched Appearex in 2001. “Appearex is doing well,” says Mike Vercelletto, associate product manager for Appearex. “But we think we can do even better.” The challenge has been getting consumers to continue the regimen after the initial 30 days, especially since results may not yet be apparent. “People need to take Appearex longer than 30 days to see an effect,” adds Mark Stauffer, supply-chain director.
To understand what Merz could do to promote long-term product use, the company, which also markets the popular scar-care product Mederma, conducted some market research. Merz discovered that consumers needed more information on the product and also packaging that encouraged daily use.
Appearex was originally packaged in blisters and sold in 30-count SKUs. Three cards of 10 were supplied in cartons for a 30-day regimen. Merz decided to switch to “a 28-day blister card, which we feel better encourages compliance,” says Stauffer. The 28-count package will now be sold individually or in groups of three for an 84-count SKU, and prices have been adjusted to make long-term regimens more affordable.
Carton Service Inc.-Packaging Insights Inc. (Norris, TN) helped Merz with the redesign. The two had worked together before, originally because of their proximity. Redesigning the blister entailed some collaboration to properly lay out the tablets in a fashion much like that of a birth control pill package, says Stauffer. Foil printed on two sides was used in order to present the doses in a calendar format with the days of the week printed on the seal side of the foil. “Four rows of seven organized by day really gets women to consider Appearex as a daily regimen,” adds Vercelletto.
Because the blister package itself was being redesigned, new tooling was required. “The previous blister tooling was owned by another contract packager, so we decided to buy a new set of tooling through Packaging Insights,” says Stauffer. Film and foil materials were not changed, reports Stauffer.
To offer consumers more product information, Carton Service designed a new carton, which included a header panel and a fifth-panel booklet that folds open. Stauffer says the booklet panel acts like a book cover that consumers can open to read about the product. “We needed more information on the box without taking up more space on the shelf,” explains Vercelletto.
The new Appearex package’s artwork features a beautifully manicured hand that wraps around the box, giving the illusion of a woman holding the package.
A die-cut window underneath the fifth panel in the base carton allows consumers to see through to the blistered tablets inside. “Letting consumers see the size of the tablets is a key selling point of Appearex, because they are small and easy to swallow,” Vercelletto says.
The biggest challenge to the project was getting all the packaging elements to work together, says Vercelletto. “We have a header-panel for hanging displays, a window, a fold-out fifth-panel booklet, and sealed-end cartons for tamper evidence.”
Sample packages were also redesigned. Originally a card of two, the new samples contain seven doses, and they are presented in a blister the same size as the 28 count. “This way, we were able to use most of the same blister tool set,” says Stauffer. “It also allows us to make the sample and the market pack look similar.”
Carton graphics also got a facelift. “The original package was very clinical looking,” explains Vercelletto. “Because it is a pharmaceutical-grade biotin product, we treat it like a pharmaceutical product, not a vitamin.” The brand’s first and second cartons used its signature purple hues, and the second one introduced the image of a woman’s hand. Still, the firm felt the graphics didn’t stand out enough on the shelf or when hanging by its head panel.
The new design uses the brand’s colors against a white background, making the product name and logo stand out. The image of a woman’s hand wraps around the box almost as if it is being held, giving the hand dimension and making the product pop out even more. On the inside of the fifth panel, another image shows a hand fanned out, with each nail pointing to “5 beautiful reasons for taking Appearex once a day,” reads the carton.
Packaging Insights is producing the new blisters and cartoning them on its new blister packaging line. The blister machine is a UPS-4, originally made by Uhlmann Packaging Systems (Towaco, NJ) and rebuilt by Micron PharmaWorks (Odessa, FL). According to Paul Glintenkamp, director of pharmaceutical packaging for Packaging Insights, Micron PharmaWorks added vision systems, an extended feed area for up to three dedicated feeders, and computer-based control systems. The thermoformer is integrated with a cartoner from IWKA PacSystems (Fairfield, NJ). The two adjustable magazines that feed the cartoner eliminate the need for fixed tooling, which allows Packaging Insights toolless changeover among all three SKUs in the Appearex line.
“The line’s speed and quality systems are impressive, and the downstream stacking of the formed blisters into the magazines is slick,” says Stauffer. “We like to automate where we can to save costs. We anticipate that Packaging Insights’ new line will help us grow our product line.”