Bottles and Tottles: Engaging the Senses
Case study: Bold colors and ergonomic details give Sephora’s bath and body packages strong shelf presence.By Marie Redding, Senior Editor
The Sephora team knows what it takes to sell products in a self-service environment. For instance, it knows that packaging must draw customers in on every level, appealing to their senses of sight, smell, and touch. True to form, the retailer has designed its private-label bath and body collection to command attention.
The line’s packages seem to include every color in the spectrum. Each vibrant shade corresponds with a specific product scent, and each product name sounds so enticing that consumers won’t be able to resist taking a sniff. When held in the hand, the packages offer tactile qualities and ergonomic details that seal the deal.
A Rainbow of Color
Part of Sephora’s brand identity is simple, streamlined packaging that shows off vibrant product colors. The bath and body collection is no different. “The variety of color in this line is truly an extension of our brand positioning,” explains Catherine Marovich, Sephora Merchant.
Different gradients of color were used on the plastic bottles and tottles. Clear bottles and tottles show off the boldly colored bubble baths, body washes, and scrubs. Other bottles were tinted with color. Because the body lotions are white, their opaque bottles were colored. The dry-oil moisturizer bottles, which contain clear liquid, were also tinted.
Zorbit Resources (New York City), which designed all of the custom bottle shapes together with Sephora, worked on color matching.
There were 72 different color matches across different materials. “We are proud to say that we hit more than 50 matches on the first submission,” says Tom Butkiewicz, president, Zorbit Resources.
Engineered to be Squeezable
Bottle density was another factor that had to be considered. According to Rod Hough, director of packaging, Zorbit Resources, the challenge with producing the extrusion-blow-molded bottles was controlling the color.
Color can vary on a package, for instance, when some areas of a bottle have thicker walls than other areas. “Color consistency is impossible to control one-hundred percent; however, this can also make every package unique,” says Hough.
Bottle density also affects how squeezable a bottle is. “We chose bottles that would squeeze easily, yet still securely house the product without cracking or breaking,” says Marovich.
“The forms needed to be rigid enough to hold their shape, yet squeezable enough to dispense product easily. Through testing, we were able to find the proper gram weight to satisfy both needs,” Butkiewicz explains.
The bottle and tottle shapes are streamlined and contemporary—and practical. One primary design goal was to make sure that all of the shapes would make the products easier to use in the shower or the bath. For instance, the circular bubble bath bottle is rounded in the front and flat in the back. “We molded a thumbprint-sized recess on the back of the bottle to make it easier to grasp,” says Marovich.
“The shapes are architectural in nature. They’re designed to be something to display in the home, not just a container that holds a product,” adds Butkiewicz. “We were asked to design the bottles around a particular cap, which was a shape already owned by Sephora.”
A Minimalist Aesthetic
When it came to choosing the graphics to print on the bottle, Sephora took the minimalist route. “In our experience, a little goes a long way. We chose key sound bites of information about the product to [display on the packaging],” explains Marovich.
The product name and ingredient information were printed in a unique way. For the body lotion, body wash, and body scrub bottles, sentences were printed vertically on the bottles. On the round bubble bath bottles, words were printed in a circular pattern, following the outline of the bottle’s shape.
Decorating the unusually shaped bottles was no easy feat. “We had to use up to five passes with handmade jigs to ensure consistency and tight registration. We’re proud to say that the deco registration we managed to achieve is second to none,” says Butkiewicz.
Choosing the Right Scents
For its bath and body collection, Sephora’s team collaborated with Jeanine Recckio on product development. Recckio is founder of trend forecast company Mirror Mirror Imagination Group.
“Jeanine [helped to select the] fragrances [we chose] and helped to develop key items for the collection,” says Catherine Marovich, Sephora Merchant. “The collection includes an extensive flavor library, with different scent families ranging from fruits to gourmands and Orientals.”
Choosing the Right Cap
A bottle’s look may be a hit, but if it has a dispensing cap that doesn’t function, the package is a miss. Sephora’s team tested a number of caps in various sizes to determine which would best dispense an array of product consistencies and formulations. “We also made sure that the caps were easy to open and close,” says Catherine Marovich, Sephora Merchant.
All of the black flip-top dispensing caps were produced by Zorbit Resources from polypropylene and PCTA. A subtle metallic colorant was added to the cap resin. The liquid dry-oil moisturizer spray required a pump supplied by Rexam Dispensing Systems (Purchase, NY) and Emsar Inc. (Stratford, CT).
Solving Compatibility Issues
For its new body care collection, Sonya Dakar customized a stock bottle that was designed and supplied by DieterBakic (Munich). “We did not find the need, due to expense and time, for custom tooling. We prefer to spend our resources on ingredients and product quality,” says Emily Flores, product development manager, Sonya Dakar. “We chose [DieterBakic’s] Laurie bottle for all of our products because we liked its tapered shape.”
A pearlescent white finish was initially chosen for the bottle. Midway through the project, however, the Sonya Dakar team realized that the bottle wasn’t opaque enough to hide the exfoliant’s formula, which contains crushed walnut and flax seeds. “The natural exfoliants that the formula contains are very dark, and brown particles were showing through the bottle,” says Flores.
To solve this issue, the bottle’s gram weight had to be increased, which increased the bottle’s opacity. “Increasing the pigment load gave the bottle more of an opaque finish. It also increased the cost,” says Flores. “Keep compatibility issues in mind when you’re dealing with a light colored bottle and a dark formula,” she advises.
Compatibility issues also had to be considered when matching the right dispensing cap to the granular product. “The orifice’s size had to be just right so that it wouldn’t clog,” explains Flores.
Beauty Moves into the Kitchen
The line between personal care and home products continues to blur, thanks to the new Pure&Green Williams-Sonoma home products collection, launched in January. The product range includes personal care products such as foaming hand soap and hand lotion, as well as a counter spray and a kitchen cleanser.
According to Williams-Sonoma, the products, all containing essential oils, are meant to bring a feeling of well-being into the kitchen—an idea taken from the spa and natural product categories. Raison Pure (New York City) designed the packaging together with Karen Rapoport, vice president of creative services at Williams-Sonoma.
Raison Pure’s Laurent Hainaut says that he used cosmetic colors and packaging components for the home products. “The different bottles shapes, with different heights, are ones that you might find in an antique store,” adds Hainaut. The plastic bottles are a mix of custom and stock shapes and were molded with 25% postconsumer PET.
Ingredient lists and illustrations were printed on the reverse side of clear labels so that they show through the front of the bottles. “The style of the illustrations on the labels, which are printed in a natural color palette, reminds you of the natural aspect of the products,” says Hainaut. A vertical white band, printed with the name of each scent, is reminiscent of classic apothecary labels found on vintage spice jars.
EarthSafe Chooses PCR Resin
Kathleen Dills, brand manager of EarthSafe BioResponsible Body Care, chose bottles made from 100% postconsumer resin (PCR) for her bath and body line. TricorBraun (St. Louis) supplied the stock bottles.
A dark blue color helps to camouflage the inconsistent color of the PCR resin. “I also love the strength of the cobalt blue on the shelf,” says Dills.
Simple Designs for Unisex Appeal
Trees is a new unisex bath and body collection launching in luxury spas this spring. “I wanted the packaging to have unisex appeal so I was drawn toward strong minimalist design,” says Carisa Janes, the line’s creator.
The plastic bottles were designed by DieterBakic (Munich) and supplied by Westlake Packaging (Agoura Hills, CA). The square bottles’ flat shape allows the bottles to be easily grasped.
Suppliers’ Latest Options for Bottle Decorating
One Bottle, Two Colors
Bicolored bottles from Silgan Plastics Corp. (Chesterfield, MO) look eye-catching on the shelf. The colors can be produced in strips of equal or varying widths.
Cospack America’s (Edison, NJ) Venus stock bottles can be molded from a special blend of polyethylene and polypropylene that has a soft-touch finish. Because the bottles are already molded with the texture, brands do not have to pay for a secondary spraying process in order to get the soft-touch feel.
A masterbatch gives PET bottles a matte frosted finish that resembles etched glass. The masterbatch is added during extruding, eliminating the need for a costly secondary process to achieve a frosted effect. It is supplied by Ampacet (Tarrytown, NY).
To demonstrate how its packages can be decorated to suit a number of consumer markets, Lumson S.p.A. (Capergnanica, Italy) has begun creating mockup package designs. Lumson’s first mockup line features plastic and glass bottles with pumps and overcaps, all decorated to appeal to the baby market.