Allegra Hits Shelves with New Status, New Packaging
In March, consumers began purchasing the Allegra family of allergy medication products over the counter. FDA granted sanofi-aventis U.S. and its U.S. Consumer Healthcare Division, Chattem Inc., OTC approval for Allegra in late January.
Sanofi-aventis had purchased Chattem a little over a year ago, giving sanofi-aventis a U.S. consumer products division equipped to carry out the Allegra OTC launch. “We were given a great brand with tremendous brand awareness,” explains Blair Ramey, vice president of marketing at Chattem, speaking of Allegra. “And with Chattem, sanofi-aventis had the medium to launch Allegra to OTC in the United States.”
Ramey and his team were charged with translating the hues and design elements of Allegra’s existing brand identity into OTC packaging and labeling designs.
“Having been on the market for 15 years, Allegra has had its logo used for materials for doctors for years. It was important for us to maintain brand continuity but develop appropriate trade dress for the OTC market,” Ramey explains. “So we built off those design elements and developed a compelling look at the shelf.”
Allegra’s logo has changed, but its hues draw from previous branding. Packaging now comprises a combination of formats and SKUs, employing blisters, bottles, and cartons. Twelve different sizes exist across the line. Some of the formats are channel-specific, such as 90-count cartons (the largest package) for club stores and the five-count blister for trial and travel (the smallest package). Thirty-count bottles are available at retail, as are blister-packaged counts for multi-ingredient products containing antihistamines and decongestants. The line is also divided into adult-strength and child-strength versions.“We needed to give consumers a full range of options,” says Ramey.
Given such variety along with an expedited timeline, Chattem was facing a complicated launch. Allegra’s existing brand equity and sanofi-aventis’s existing supply chain gave Chattem a head start.
Ramey, who has been with Chattem for more than 12 years, says that the 131-year-old consumer products company was long used to generating multiple sizes and brand billboarding. “Allegra is such a great brand to work with, given brand recognition and satisfaction. So the challenges were less in building the brand than in the compressed timeline. We had only fourteen months!
“When we got involved, we took over what sanofi had already started before the acquisition. Its manufacturing supply chain was long in place and well designed, so we just needed to prepare it for retail production. We leveraged sanofi’s stability work and created the range of retail products.”
For the retail PET bottles, Chattem introduced child-resistant squeeze-and-turn closures that give the bottles a seamless look, with no neck or shoulders exposed. “It is a sleek look,” says Ramey. “And they are adult friendly.” The company also adopted induction seals with pull tabs to further ease use. Cartons are tamper evident. Blister packaging uses standard peel-and-push paper-backed foil.
Ramey credits Chattem’s on-time launch to its “seasoned cross-functional” team. “The most important advice I could give other companies in this position is to assemble a team of highly seasoned veterans within every job function and instill a can-do attitude from the start. This includes experts on the supply chain, manufacturing, packaging, marketing, and quality assurance, among others,” says Ramey.
“We are excited about this launch,” concludes Ramey. “It is the most exciting one of my career!”