Transformed Packaging Gives the Dryglaze Line

Posted: October 11, 2009 by
Patrick Henry

In a relaunch, the brand owner and the package designer have the luxury of being able to retool whatever didn't work or wasn't sufficiently emphasized in the original concept. This can be creatively liberating, but there's a caveat. With the luxury comes the risk inherent in sending the product back to the stores with a new look that shoppers must learn to recognize all over again—a real gamble if the original branded package has had several years to establish itself in their minds.

Such were the realities faced by seasonings purveyor Urban Accents and its design firm, Creative Commune, in repackaging the Dryglaze™ line of granulated flavorings for grilling and baking. Nevertheless, the strategy that the Chicago partners chose for redesigning the existing container was radical: leave nothing unchanged except the product inside.

The phrase "night and day" doesn't exaggerate the differences between the tin-and-plastic box in which the Dryglaze line was introduced in 2005 and the paperboard tent package in which it has gone to market since the beginning of this year. But, if favorable early reactions from high-end food stores are an indicator, the relaunch—which included a steep price reduction—should leave a sweet taste in the mouths of Urban Accents, its retailers, and its loyal customers alike.

Look wasn't tasty enough

Hand-packed by Urban Accents in seven flavors, the Dryglaze products are rub-on seasoning blends for meats that turn into glazing sauces on the grill or in the oven with the help of a little oil. They first appeared in 4.5-oz. tin boxes secured with decorative belly bands and topped with clear plastic in the lids. The tins were simple, functional, and sturdy, but what they lacked, according to Jim Dygas, president and creative director of Creative Commune, was visual charisma.

Because the tins didn't work hard on a grocery shelf, he says, the Dryglaze line didn't initially achieve the impulse-buy status so crucial to a new retail food offering of its kind.

Although the clear plastic tops gave a good view of the packaged product, the tins had to be shelved in a way that reduced visibility. The printed belly bands carried text but no pictures—not exactly a look calculated stand out in specialty food stores and other imagery-intensive retailing environments. Lisa Kamerad, director of marketing for Urban Accents, says that research revealed another impediment to impulse buying: The tins contained more product than shoppers wanted to buy.

And finally, the metal-and-plastic composition of the container stood in the way of Urban Accents' wish to go to market in environmentally conscious packaging. Kamerad and Dygas polled customers, retailers, and the Urban Accents sales force to identify the combination of design features that would give the Dryglaze products the same zest in the store that they produce in the kitchen. The focus groups didn't just yield insights into redesigning the package—they prompted changes in some of the product names, too. For instance, the jazzy but vague "Bombay Blitz" became the more succulent "Mumbai Honey Pepper," a clearer designation for the line's offering in that style of cuisine.

Kamerad and Dygas say that the new package design takes big strides in all the right directions by doing more with less. For one thing, at 2 oz., the tent packages contain less than half the product that came in the tin. This permits marketing them at a price more likely to trigger impulse buying: $3.99 vs. the original $7.99.

Dygas also notes that because the smaller packages can be displayed frontally for a billboard effect on the shelf, they will have a stronger presence not just in specialty food stores but in all of the retail settings where Urban Accents intends to sell them. A circular die cut in the lower right corner affords a view of the polybagged product inside the tent, enabling shoppers to see the color of the mixture and the texture of the grind. The tents also are easier to hand-pack, requiring only three steps instead of the 12 that used to be necessary with the tins.

Better all around

The switch from metal and plastic to paperboard with an inner polybag makes the tent package as environmentally attractive as it is shelf-friendly. Both of the new materials are 100% recyclable, and Kamerad says that they do as good a job of assuring shelf life as the original composition. Another plus is that they're considerably less expensive—a factor that helped Urban Accents lower the price point as it avoided having to deal with sharp increases in the cost of tin.

The printing and converting are provided by Professional Image Inc., a Tulsa, OK, manufacturer of packaging, POP, media packs, and specialty items. Kent Coleman, who handles the Urban Accents account, says that the job is printed in four colors plus a metallic silver PMS spot color on 12-pt. CIS board. All of the inks including the metallic spot are low-VOC, sustainably produced soy formulations.

An equally eco-friendly satin aqueous coating helps to keep the packages water- and freezer-resistant—necessary qualities, given that the Dryglaze products sometimes are stocked at refrigerated meat and seafood counters. Coleman says the printing is done in runs up to 15,000 per package on a six-color Heidelberg CD 102 sheetfed press. For finishing, Professional Image uses die cutting and folding carton gluing equipment from Bobst.

Kamerad says that feedback from retailers at January's Fancy Food Show was favorable, and since then, distributors of Urban Accents products "have really taken a shine to it." These outlets include the trendy Whole Foods chain, which has introduced the line in some of its regions.