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BRANDING

A Risque Breath Mint Makes a Bid for the Mainstream

With big retailers balking at the provocative packaging of Eatwhatever breath freshener, Jacquii revamped the minty product's branding.
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Jacqui Rosshandler likes to think of herself as the "doctor of fresh breath." Her company, Jacquii, makes Eatwhatever, a two-part breath freshener that consists of a gel cap of peppermint and parsley seed oils and a sugar-free mint. Eatwhatever, which retails for about $4.99, became popular in New York City specialty shops, but big retailers balked at the product's provocative packaging. To address that problem, Rosshandler recently partnered with Arthur Shorin, former CEO of the sports card and novelties company Topps. And last February, she tapped New York City–based Mada Design to develop new packaging for Eatwhatever. The revamped packages hit the shelves in July.

Before

1. First Impression
Rosshandler wanted Eatwhatever to have distinctive colors that would stand out in the checkout aisle. The e in the logo was designed to look like a Pac-Man character. "We were looking for something fun," she says. But many retailers felt the packaging didn't clearly indicate the product's purpose and that the logo was hard to read.

2. Tag Line
The spine of the package included directions to suck and swallow, in reference to the mints and the gel caps, which are formulated to eliminate odors from within the stomach. The phrase, of course, has other connotations as well. "It's a bit naughty," Rosshandler says. "Some stores were hesitant to put it on the shelves."

3. Packaging
The foldout design allowed the gel caps and mints to be packaged separately in a single container. Though Rosshandler liked the distinctive look, the package was too bulky to fit in a pocket. Plus, some customers felt the design made the product look medicinal. "It scared people a little bit," she says.

After

1. Visual Aids
The new packaging includes illustrations of the gel cap and mint to familiarize customers with the package's contents and instructions for usage. Mada's designers considered using a die cut to show the actual contents, but doing so would have significantly raised manufacturing costs.

2. New Background
The green background and mint leaves immediately signal Eatwhatever's product category and play up the product's all-natural ingredients. The new design also highlights the phrase 2 steps to kissable breath, which Rosshandler felt was a distinctive tag line for the brand.

3. The Box
The original foldout design could not be produced in a smaller size, so Eatwhatever now uses recyclable cardboard sleeves to hold the gel caps and mints. Not only is the new package more portable, but it's also 10 percent less expensive to make.

4. Instructions
The provocative tag line has been moved from the box to the back of the blister packs. Not only does that reduce the likelihood of offending retailers or customers, but it also makes it easier for customers to distinguish the gel caps from the mints.

Expert opinion

Stop trying so hard. Rosshandler is trying too hard to convey too many things on a little box: the name, the mint leaves, the two steps. And like most consumer food packaging, it's too literal. It's green like everything else in the mint category. There's even a picture of the product on the package, even though it's not visually interesting. The company needed something high contrast, but this totally blends in.

Charles S. Anderson
Chief Creative Director | Charles S. Anderson Design

Get me rewrite. Even more than new design, this company needs better copywriting. The product name is now very readable, and the package construction is better. But the name Eatwhatever is misleading; it sounds like a diet pill. There's no clear explanation of why this product requires two steps to freshen breath. And the copy on the foil packs is vulgar.

Louise Fili
President | Louise Fili Ltd.

Establish a connection. With a complex product like this, the product's benefit has to be the big story on the package. Eatwhatever has a compelling story in the dual nature of the product; it's supposed to be more powerful than any other breath mint. But the packaging does not communicate much beyond Step One and Step Two. It doesn't create an emotional connection with the consumer.

Vetry Selvi, creative director, Harvey and Daughters

Be cheekier. I think this new design will do well. The innuendo should spark a lot of buzz, and I can see Eatwhatever getting a strong cult following. The inside components are actually bolder than the outside. Obviously, the company had to be careful, but I think the company should have played that up. I would have included some hint on the outside that there's something funny inside the package.

Tom Newmaster
Partner | William Fox Munroe

Lessons from the impulse buy

Any marketer can learn a lot by observing behavior at the checkout counter, says David Luttenberger, a packaging strategist at Iconoculture, a Minneapolis–based consumer research firm.

Q: What trends are you seeing in packaging design?
A:
Since the recession, we've found that consumers are more drawn to private-label products. There's an obvious thrift value, of course. But private-label packaging is also simple, clean, and free of hype or advertising. It gives shoppers just enough information to make an enlightened purchasing decision.

Q: Do nonessential items, such as candy and gum, have to do more to get shoppers' attention?
A:
No. We've begun to see companies in the gum category use clean palettes with splashes of color. There are so many things competing for shoppers' attention. Something that gives their eyes a break from that clutter will draw attention.

Q: Do customers get confused if a product looks too different from others in its category?
A:
Consumers recognize when something doesn't work. It goes back to providing value beyond price. The incentive to buy might be that the product is more convenient or can be recycled. But the functional aspects of the packaging have to be intuitive.

The Bottom Line

At a cost of less than $5,000, the redesign has paid off big. Even though the new packages were on the shelves for just six months, Eatwhatever racked up nearly $500,000 in sales in 2011, exceeding 2010's total. Rosshandler has lined up new retailers, including Hudson News.

IMAGE: Kelly Kollar
Last updated: Jan 25, 2012




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