Latest Launches: Frais Hand Sanitizer Bottles
Customers can find the bottle size that’s just right for them when it comes to Frais hand sanitizers. This luxury line, with an environmentally friendly formula containing 66% pure sugarcane alcohol and a blend of eight aromatic essential oils, offers customers three product sizes—a countertop size (444 ml) and two smaller travel sizes (6 and 50 ml). Each size comes in Frais’s signature custom bottle, whose unique shape was faithfully carried out throughout the product line.
Q&A with Michael Davis-Smith, Frais managing director
When did the Frais line launch?
Frais launched at STUDIO at Fred Segal in Santa Monica, CA, on April 18, 2008. We launched in Australia on our Web site on June 1, 2008.
Why did you choose the custom bottle shape that you did?
We chose a champagne flute shape for our bottle to create our own category of distinctive and elegant packaging in order to differentiate ourselves from the stock packaging used by most other hand sanitizers other than Method Products’. Most interpret our shape as being champagne flute- or vase-like. The unusual shape also makes the product easy to locate by touch in a crowded handbag, briefcase, makeup bag, backpack, or suitcase.
How does the packaging suit your target customer?
Frais Pocket [the small 6-ml bottle] was designed as chic, cute, and portable. It is a convenient way to carry hand sanitizer around, either popped in pockets or carried in a small purse, with you at all times when the need to freshen arises. This is absolutely essential on public transport, including airplanes; in restaurants and nightclubs; and while traveling overseas or during conferences when meeting people and shaking hands. Discreetly sized and light in weight, Frais Pocket can be taken on the run with keys, mobile phones, and purses or wallets.
The shape also was created to distinguish the bottle from other shapes when customers reach into their handbags or briefcases without looking—for example, when driving or walking, when you need to freshen/sanitize at the same time. Frais’s bottle shape is curved at the base so that when touched, the bottle is not confused with lipsticks, Chapstick, mascara, etc. This pertains to the 6- or 50-ml versions. The 50-ml size is also perfect for the car glove compartment or console.
Frais also created the bottle to be soft and pliable in one’s hands. Quite often, we experience many consumers playing with and squeezing the shape of the bottle, sort of like it has a calming influence, during conversation—similar to the way they would squeeze a squeezable stress ball.
With regards to performance, Frais chose lids manufactured by the reputable Zeller Plastik located in the United States and Shanghai. The lids prevent leakage in bags, and people can feel confident about their quality.
The Spa Pump [on the large 444-ml spa-sized bottle] delivers the perfect 1-cc dosage required to coat both hands and fingers. It is an economical option for the office, gym, home, or for a spa/salon or other upscale venue. We personally use our pump to fill our pocket-sized portable bottles, because the nozzle of the pump (the IBIS pump from Seaquist USA) fits perfectly into the Frais Pocket 6-ml bottle to fill it without mess.
Is the bottle a custom mold?
All bottle sizes are custom molds. Our packaging is made of recyclable LDPE [for the small Pocket and medium 50-ml Everyday sizes], HDPE [for the large spa size], PP for the plastic caps and pumps, and recyclable paper for the gift box and the box containing the pocket-sized bottles.
What company or companies designed and manufactured the bottles?
Several designs were presented to Robert [cofounder Robert Main, Frais’s U.S. managing director] and me from the creative talents of freelance designer Ron Delizo from Los Angeles. Robert and I chose this particular creation from four or five designs. Ron has experience designing for such brands as Guess, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Nike, and has designed previously for the animation, retail, marketing and advertising industries.
Experts in China took the design and created the shape to Ron Delizo’s specifications. I do not want to reveal the manufacturing company that we used; however, our manufacturers also partner with Boots and Marks & Spencer to create their products for the beauty industry.
It’s admirable that the unique bottle shape is continued from the spa size all the way down to the travel size. Why was this important?
Distinction and emotional connection. We worked very hard on perfecting our essential-oil scent. (Six versions were tried until Les Huit, the scent we decided on, was created!) We wished for our consumers to have positive connotations of not only the Les Huit scent but also our bottle shape in order to relate to Frais as providing a holistic, luxurious experience, along with the practical benefit of killing 99.9% of germs.
Also, a similar shape is [great at creating brand identity] when bottles are showcased beside each other on retail shelves. We aimed to keep our colors fresh, natural, and mutually appealing to both men and women. The darker colors of our packaging reflect the serious side of hand sanitizing—and it also ensures that men will not be afraid of buying the product for themselves. Women surveyed were [responsive to] the current colors, [which they] saw as unique [compared with] the brighter floral colors of other beauty products. The “pop” factor of the cyan blue of our logo was chosen to attract the consumer’s eye—especially against the black.
Were there any specific challenges during designing/manufacturing?
One challenge was creating a unique shape that was stable when positioned upright, yet maintains that attractiveness to the eye. Also, it was challenging for the manufacturers in both the U.S. and China to ensure that the fit of the cap and bottle was seamless. It took some time to perfect, but while comparing technical specifications (and dealing with different languages, cultures, etc.), we arrived at a great solution!
I must comment that although [some] China-based manufacturers get a bad rap in the press sometimes, their dedication and determination to produce a perfect product for Frais was comforting. They welcomed our feedback. Nothing seemed too hard or impossible for these manufacturers. We originally wanted to produce our packaging in Australia, but local Australia firms did not seem to have the technology to fill our Frais Pocket bottles. Instead, they encouraged us to use stock bottles! However, we stuck to our guns to produce something much more elegant and in line with our luxury hand sanitizer category that we intended to create.