Skratch Lab's redesign of its entire product portfolio with new digitally-printed, highly functional packaging creates a more pleasing shopping and user experience for fitness enthusiasts.
Starting from scratch is SOP for Skratch Labs when it comes to just about everything. After all, that’s how Dr. Allen Lim originated the functional food and beverage mixes on which he founded the company. A coach for professional cyclists, Lim started formulating custom hydration drink mixes and food that would allow cyclists to hydrate, fuel and build their bodies to perform their best.
Now Skratch Labs has redesigned its graphics and kicked the packaging’s functionality into higher gear for multiserve stand-up pouches, single-serve bags, bar wraps and stick packs. Jeff Donaldson, vp marketing, responds to Packaging Digest’s questions.
What prompted the redesign?
Donaldson: Skratch Labs is always looking for ways to be at its best, and after five years in business the company redesigned and renamed its entire line of products to create an easier and more enjoyable shopping experience for its consumers. The research for the new packaging began in late 2016 and the packaging was 10 months in development.
The new product packaging includes the following unique features to enhance the consumer experience:
- Enhanced zippers for increased moisture barrier;
- Easy-tear, single-serve packaging;
- Contrasting soft touch treatment with metallic patterns;
- Pixel pattern created from pictures of active athletes;
- Bold color treatments and imagery to enhance the flavor identifiers.
The Skratch Labs brand architecture is organized to help consumers easily understand how to care for themselves and hydrate, fuel and/or build their bodies. Products are named with the function first, making it easier for shoppers to pick products based on their hydration, energy and recovery needs. Skratch Labs also created two separate lines; one for Sport when people are active with exercise and one for Anytime when people are active throughout their day.
What product lines and how many stockkeeping units were involved?
Donaldson: New packaging design included 35 SKUs such as Skratch Labs Sport Hydration Drink Mix, Anytime Hydration Drink Mix, Sport Energy Chews and Sport Recovery Drink Mix. Anytime Energy Bars were in development during the same period and were launched as a new product at the same time. Along with the packaging and naming changes, two products were reformulated to increase their effectiveness including Sport Hydration Drink Mix and Sport Recovery Drink Mix.
Who's your core consumer?
Donaldson: Skratch Labs products are sold in run, bike and outdoor retailers around the world as well as on our website and Amazon.com. To find Skratch Labs products visit www.skratchlabs.com/apps/store-locator.
The company creates products for people who push themselves from the everyday fitness enthusiast to the professional athlete. Many people live a high performance lifestyle and that includes more than just sports. Skratch Labs’ core audience are people who strive to be better. The company mission is to help people on that journey. That was the reason for creating two lines of products; one for when people are active in exercise and one for any time of day.
It appears the design went from a pixelated image scheme that implies “science” to product-ingredient and flavor-centered cues…what wasn’t working in the Before and how was that improved with the After?
Donaldson: The original packaging was designed to highlight the science of the product, i.e., the “Labs” in Skratch Labs, while still touching on the real fruit used as an ingredient. The original imagery included pixelated patterns of fruit. The updated packaging design was part of an overall brand refresh to get the “nature and science” working more closely together. Based on feedback from consumers, we realized that the individual packages weren’t working together to tell a whole story or follow a consistent structure. There was an opportunity to make the shopping experience simpler and to explain how all the products worked together.
The new packaging not only follows a consistent structure of naming hierarchy, design cues such as colors and fruit, but links all the product categories together with icons such as the “fuel gauge.” This gauge is a simple way for consumers to understand what each product does and at what level (hydration, energy, recovery).
Why was it important to add and enhance these functional features on the packaging?
Donaldson: Knowing how busy this audience is in their lives, the goal was to make the processing of information and understanding of the product as simple and as easy as possible. We also wanted to make the design as refreshing and inspiring as we could. We made improvements based on consumer feedback such as improving the “grippiness” of the zipper, making the product name more visible and visual differentiation between products with similar flavors.
Because of the metallic moisture barrier we weren’t able to have a clear window for consumers to see the product. Instead we utilized that metallic to show through parts of the design. The packaging includes layers of laminate to create the combination of matte soft touch, gloss and metallic highlights.
The goal with the design was to have multiple levels of communication and visual stimulation as a consumer walked by the package on the shelf. First is the large functional benefit of the product and brand name. The metallic highlights and gloss color blocks catch the light and grab attention. The next level was designed for a consumer standing closer to the package to read the product type and flavor. The matte soft touch was intended to encourage people to pick up the package and turn it over to read the information on the back.
Did the SRP or the product net weight change?
Donaldson: The only product with a change to the SRP was the Anytime Hydration Drink Mix in which the number of servings was reduced based on consumer feedback and the price point followed accordingly.
What companies can be credited for the design and the packaging?
Donaldson: The overall brand style was designed by Zach Lee, founder of Zach Lee Designs in Boulder, CO. Zach is not only a designer, but is a cyclist and lives the lifestyle of the core audience. Zach has designed packaging for multiple brands in the food and outdoor industries so Skratch Labs was lucky to have him as part of the team.
Skratch Labs’ marketing and operations teams led the coordination of all design and production utilizing outside experts to ensure timelines and FDA requirements were met.
We work with multiple packaging manufacturers because of the variety of SKUs, but the bulk of the packaging was manufactured by ePac, a company that offers digital printing and laminating. This was a new relationship for Skratch Labs and one that resulted in expectations being exceeded.
Why did you change to ePac?
Donaldson: The biggest reason for the switch was the ability to print digitally and avoid the cost of film on 35 SKUs while having the ability to use multiple textures with the designs.
What’s not apparent about the design that’s worth pointing out?
Donaldson: Two big shifts for the brand included the naming hierarchy, an intentional structure to not only make the product name clear, but the usage and variations equally easy to understand. The products have a 4-part naming structure; Category, Function, Product and Flavor. These four categories allow for all current and future products to be clearly organized and understandable. We also included simple-to-read instructions on how and when to use the products.
We wanted to bring real life into the design so we used photos of fruit and of our sponsored athletes. The images were turned to patterns of pixels to add texture and life to the design.
Lastly, tell us more about the company's origin and name.
Donaldson: Dr. Allen Lim spent years coaching professional cyclists and making hydration drink mixes and food for them because they were getting sick from the sports nutrition available to them at the time. He created natural, nutritious energy food and hydration drink mixes from scratch based on what athletes’ bodies lost when they pushed themselves hard. Soon, his friends, family and other athletes began asking for the products. He found that the products solved the same problems for everyday athletes as well. At that point he retired from the pro cycling tour and moved back to Boulder, CO, to start the company. The company name comes from two areas: Dr. Lim’s belief that food is always better when it’s made from scratch and his journey of starting over from scratch when he left the pro cycling tour.
Have a thirst for packaging information and ideas? You’ll find that and a whole lot more in Anaheim, CA, February 6-8, 2018, at WestPack co-located with PLASTEC West. For more information, visit WestPack.