Recognized by the Institute of Packaging Professionals as a winner in its 2016 AmeriStar packaging competition, a multipack club-store package for Softlips lip balm uses five plastic components to create a multidimensional effect meant to catch the eye of consumers. The project began when Softlips, a brand of The Mentholatum Co., approached Transparent Container Co. to help them develop an eye-catching multipack for Sam’s Club’s 2014 holiday offerings.
“Softlips identified an opportunity to expand the market for their popular new product by creating a club-store package that would reach a new category of consumer,” explains Mentholatum's Director of Engineering and Maintenance Kevin Aylsworth. “Lip balms are usually sold in the cough and cold aisle, but the brand owner’s goal was to make the package so attractive it would be placed in other, more visible venues.”
According to Patti McElligott, Sales Representative for Transparent Container, the initial aim was a holiday three-pack, which was later changed to a four-pack. “The goals of the packaging were to be innovative, unique, upscale, feminine, and stylish,” she says. “They wanted to maximize their shelf presence, since their product is small.”
Softlips began with a unique starting point for the project: a lip-balm package in the shape of a cube, with a colored base and a crystal-clear cover. “The design of the primary lip-balm package as a hard plastic cube is itself unusual, and our packaging engineers who developed the four-pack sleeve took advantage of and leveraged that design to create the total package impact,” says Aylsworth.
The resulting package design from Transparent Container measures 5 x 2.125 x 8.125 in. and includes a 12-mil polyvinyl chloride sleeve that is RF die-cut, folded, and glued. Inside the sleeve is a 20-mil PVC clamshell that positions four Softlips Cube varieties on an angle to create a 3D effect, and a die-cut PVC sheet, printed on one side. The package is then sealed with two 17.5-mil pink PVC end caps.
Coupled with the unique positioning of the cubes are the colorful graphics that cover both sides of the sleeve, and one side of the die-cut sheet. On the sleeve is the Softlips Cube logo, along with other product verbiage. The sheet inside the package is printed with gradations of pink, flavor imagery for the three varieties, and a splash of blue and pink across the center. The lip-balm packaging also adds to the color mix, with the base of each balm in a different pastel hue. “The result is a unique design combining clear plastic with printed color to create a vision of the primary packages floating in colorful space,” says Aylsworth.
The package is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it also addresses the economic and environmental concerns that go along with club-store packaging, says Aylsworth: “In this case, the four-pack design reduces pricing by grouping four different lip-balm flavors in one package. The design also reduces production costs by printing both colorful images and necessary information directly onto the plastic sleeve and interior clamshell, rather than printing and applying separate labels. This reduction in the number of package elements also addresses environmental concerns, important to club stores.”
Another advantage of the hybrid design is that by packaging the primary lip-balm packages within a clamshell and then within a PVC sleeve, the cubes are protected from damage and pilfering during shipping and shelving. The unique positioning of the lip balms within the clamshell also makes it easy for consumers to see the products without having to remove them, and once at home, the consumer simply lifts the top end cap from the sleeve and pulls the out the clamshell to access the products.
“The delicate balancing act that the brand owner had set out to achieve—creating a multi-product package, with all the imagery required, and having it look multidimensional rather than cluttered—worked,” says Aylsworth. “The result is an elegant package projecting premium quality and quantity in a dramatic presentation.”