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Diet pill package gets glamorous

Dubbed the "couture diet pill" and the "supermodel of diet pills" at the Sundance Film Festival where it was recently marketed to celebrities and film executives, new NV™ Rapid Weight Loss dietary supplement from NxCare™, Inc., Mississauga, ON, blends weight-loss and beauty benefits in a single product. To position its enhanced diet pill distinctively among the growing number of weight-loss solutions for women, NxCare made a dramatic departure from traditional nutraceuticals packaging by modeling its bottle and carton after more elegant and sophisticated cosmetics packaging.

"We wanted to create a unique presence in the category," says Greg Sanford, art director for NxCare. "That was really the driving force behind the cosmetics approach to the package. The category we are being placed in does not have anything like this in it."

NxCare is a nutraceuticals/healthcare products company that has primarily focused on muscle-building and fat-burning supplements for bodybuilders and power athletes since it was established in 2002. According to NxCare head of communications Rosalie Ward, the company has experienced rapid growth in its first four years and is on target to reach $100 million in sales this year.

NxCare's first foray into weight-loss supplements developed specifically for women came with the introduction of Slimquick™ in 2005, which Ward says set the stage for NV. "The evolution of our packaging began with Slimquick, which looks much more cosmeceutical than other weight-loss products that were out there," she explains. "NV has taken it to the extreme, with packaging that looks more like a fragrance bottle than a supplement bottle."

Advising its consumers to "Be sexy. Be confident. Be Desired™ with NV™," the dietary supplement contains three sets of ingredients, selected for weight loss, energy and beauty. The weight-loss "complex" includes green tea extract to enhance metabolism, the mild stimulant theobromine and hoodia gordonii, advertised as an appetite suppressant. The energy complex includes ingredients such as taurine and ginseng. "Lastly," says Trisha Enriquez, NV brand manager, "the most unique part of the whole product is the beauty complex, which includes ingredients like collagen, which you will find in a lot of beauty and cosmetics products for skin renewal, and antioxidants such as alpha lipoic acid, biotin and silica, which are good for hair, skin and nails.

"One thing that can happen to people when they are dieting is that they don't get enough nutrients, so they do need to take special care of their hair, skin and nails," she adds.

More akin to packaging found at a perfume counter, NV's elongated, smoothly curving plastic bottle is the result of NxCare's collaboration with Custom Bottle/Lerman Container (www.custombottle.com), which Sanford says took NxCare's two-dimensional drawings and converted them into CAD drawings and prototypes for review before molding the final package. "The bottle itself went through quite a process," Sanford relates. "We started with a search in the cosmetics industry, and we incorporated a lot of the techniques that we saw there into our packaging. The bottle went through many stages of refinement, mainly because you have flat surfaces, convex surfaces and cylindrical surfaces that all kind of meld together."

As Ward describes it, the three-sided, red, polyethylene terephthalate bottle "almost looks like it was made from hot lava." She adds, "It looks like someone just took their hand and twisted the plastic around a bit while it was hot."

Spare and elegant, the bottle uses few graphics. On the front, a stylized NV in white type takes center stage, with the words "Rapid Weight Loss" in small type beneath. Another side of the container reads, "Refer to box or insert for supplement facts, directions and warning," also in white lettering. The product comes in 30-, 38- and 60-count versions, all packed in the same size container. Caplet count is indicated on the secondary carton in which the bottle is packed.

Currently, the bottle's roll-on cap is also made by Custom Bottle in red plastic, but will soon be replaced by a metal closure coated in a color-matched red. Says Sanford, "All along, the game plan was to use an aluminum cap to give the package more of a cosmetics feel, but there just wasn't enough time in terms of the launch to source it properly."

In the style of perfume, as well, the PET bottle is packaged in a folding carton converted by Ellis Paper Box (www.ellispkg.com) from .018 SBS offset-printed in five colors, including the NV custom red, plus an aqueous matte coating. The carton is similarly simple in its graphics, but includes full product information on the back panel. On the carton's two side panels are images of the supplement bottle, lit from behind—an effect that Sanford says was challenging to accurately render on press, given the subtleties of the highlights and shadows.

After its red-carpet rollout at Sundance, NV was launched at retail locations in the U.S. and Canada on Feb. 1. It is now available in stores that include GNC, The Vitamin Shoppe, Vitamin World, CVS, Rite Aid and Wal-Mart Canada (Wal-Mart U.S. intends to introduce the product in April). NxCare also hopes to market the product in nontraditional nutraceutical outlets such as department stores and tanning salons. "We've even had a few retailers that have said they are interested in merchandising these products in the cosmetics area, in addition to the weight-loss section of their stores," says Ward. "This is pretty exciting, because retailers have never moved this category over to that part of the real estate."

Enriquez believes the buzz behind NV, fueled by its Sundance debut (a two-page article in the Feb. 20 issue of Star magazine speculates that Britney Spears will be the official NV spokesperson), will open up a whole new door in the nutraceuticals category. "I think we will probably be seeing a lot of companies changing their direction in packaging," she says. "We will probably see a lot more higher-end packaging this year than we ever have before, just because of NV."

Adds Ward, "The article in Star is not true, but what we think is really interesting is that the product is already getting that type of hype, just from doing the Sundance seating. We haven't really even advertised the product yet."


More information is available:
Custom Bottle/Lerman Container, 800/4-Lerman. www.custombottle.com.
Ellis Paper Box, Inc., 888/231-5419. www.ellispkg.com.
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