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Pouched cookie dough raises the fun factor

Pouched cookie dough raises the fun factor
Crazy About Cookies’ pouches stand up and out in a category dominated by chub packs and film-wrapped trays.

Resealable stand-up pouches are the packaging format of choice for the expansion of the Crazy About Cookies brand from fundraising and foodservice channels into retail.

When it comes to packaging for cookie dough, tubs, chubs and wrapped trays will have to make room in grocer’s refrigerated cases for the infectiously fun standup pouches of Crazy About Cookies.

“We have a product that is all-natural, comes in a new package type, is extremely kid-friendly, and helps a cause dear to our hearts,” says owner Joe Giildenzopf of Pine Valley Foods, a company with a storied history of providing cookie dough for fundraising and foodservice markets. “It just makes sense to bring this product to the masses through retail.”

The colorful stand-up pouches feature bold imagery of cookie-crazy children. A one-pound netweight pouch contains enough scoopable cookie dough to make 16 one ounce cookies and are available in seven cookie varieties (shown below). The barrier pouches provide 60 days’ refrigerated shelf life from date of manufacture via “use by” coding and have a resealable zipper to maintain freshness between servings. They also boast a trendy "clean," all-natural-ingredients label.

Consultant Joseph Ward, executive director of Ward Strategies, LLC, was hired to spearhead Crazy About Cookies’ entry into the retail world. His firm specializes in assisting small companies with start-up and turnaround applications—and Ward knows packaging.

“I have always been a strong advocate of disruptive, new and exciting packaging,” Ward says in pushing the use of a standup pouch, which also matched the preference of owner Giildenzopf. “I’ve been intrigued by the growth of pouches into various categories as well as their flexibility in shape—plus the level of graphics on these packages is exciting. The resealable, stand-up gusseted pouch packaging is unique and distinctive in the category.”

The pouches feature a packaging design orchestrated by William Fox Munroe, Reading, PA.

“It was unbelievable how fast they provided renditions and hit everything that we wanted,” says Ward. “They took our ideas and just went with it.  We did not make any edits to their renditions.”

Taking the design and converting it into premade pouches was done by Robbie Fantastic Flexibles. “Robbie is fantastic to work with,” says Ward.

 Seven of the company's most popular products from among 20 were selected for the retail launch.

A category with stale packaging

Months before the packaging development was set in motion, Ward conducted a three-month-long category assessment that included taking a close look at packaging. He describes the packaging in the cookie dough category as “stagnant,” relying on two basic tried-and-true packaging formats: A chub pack and what he calls “bake and break,” a plastic tub-replacing printed film-wrapped paperboard tray.

“The trays started replacing tubs for cookie dough about five years ago,” he explains. “Tubs are terrible for merchandising. You’ve got a [small] chance it’s going to be shelved properly front-facing and likely without the lid aligned. Once a customer picks it up off the shelf and replaces it, it’s misaligned. They don’t merchandise well, though that is the format Pine Valley uses for fundraising.”

The category is ready for a refresh, according to Ward. “It needed a shake-up, something new and exciting, and I think we did that with this pouch,” Ward says.

The design’s intent was to balance two things, the face and the product, both of which use photo-quality printing. “The high-res cookie imagery shows consumers what it looks like when the cookies are baked,” he explains. While that is fairly standard approach, he says the kids-forward packaging design is unique.

“It’s super attractive with impactful faces of children, who have a name and a hometown identified on-package,” he says. “When you see an excited face and eyes, it gets your attention, makes you smile, too, and makes you feel good.”

He says the girl with the Pippi Longstocking hair has been used on the fundraising side in the past. “We found similar faces that fit in with the campaign,” he adds. “The key for us was making sure that it looks so much clearer and photographic-like over what the current players in the market have.

“Studies show that if you pick up a package up off the shelf, there’s a 75% chance you’re going to put it in the basket,” Ward points out. “We want consumers to pick up our package and understand what the product’s about. This is going to get your attention that this is something different.”

It’s not only the appealing photographic elements of cookie and child model, there’s also a technical reason why the pouches provide so much realistic “pop.”

According to Robbie sales manager Ed Nugent, the pouches are flexo-printed in seven colors on a two-year-old press using an “expanded gamut” process that produces high-definition printing. In short, rather than using for example four-color process printing and three spot colors, the press is used as a single-pass seven-color system.

“It’s a gravure printing replacement that yields crisper, cleaner print,” Nugent says. As an efficiency benefit, he reports that they don’t use PMS colors and don’t have to change inks versus otherwise being compelled to change spot colors for different runs. “The press is optimized for short runs,” he adds.

More fun on the pouch back, bottom and in the future…

Backside of pouch boasts a clean label of familiar ingredients and offers more personality using chocolate chips with character.

Two more fun sides to the package

The pouch back panel shows the baking instructions in a fun way. “We have a little caricature cookie that also carries over from fundraising,” Ward says. “It’s also integrated into the UPC printed on the bottom of the gusset [see image below]. To its credit, the [WFM] agency did it all. When we said ‘here’s what we wanted to do,’ they knocked it out of the park.”

What about the clean label aspect? “The ingredients are things that you can pronounce and that your grandmother would have used to make cookies,” responds Ward. “We don’t scream all-natural on the package because we don’t think that’s necessary:  Users, primarily moms, know the difference between a good label and a bad label. If they are label-conscious, they can see on the back that this contains ‘clean ingredients.’”

The category assessment also found that the space is dominated by Pillsbury and Nestlé, with the former nudging out the latter in terms of average SKUs per store. Ward expects their products to be a viable substitute for “rotational flavors” used by the Big Two, such as Heath-flavored dough.

Getting social and personal with consumers

Thepackaging for the introduction features professional models and some poetic license for their name and location, but it establishes a template for an on-going campaign that will solicit real users via Social Media, which is noted on the bottom of the pouch’s front panel.

 “Our marketing plan moving forward is to have a very large social networking process using contests on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where kids can send in their own Crazy About Cookie face,” Ward says. “Once we get rolling and every quarter, we’re going to refresh one pouch with a new face.  Your child can be the next face of snickerdoodle, for example. We’re going to name these kids to make them stars, which is an exciting and unique part of the brand.”

The brand is also focused on Cause Marketing with a tie-in to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital that Pine Valley has done in the past. “25 cents of every sale goes to St. Jude’s, with a minimum commitment of $50,000 a year,” says Ward, crediting owner Joe Giildenzopf’s vision and direction.


 Rendition of pouch gusset shows how chip character was cleverly integrated into the UPC.

Ward had helped Pine Valley pare its 20 Top Flavors down to a manageable seven for the retail launch that include chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and sugar. The products will retail for $3.25 to $3.50. “The difference is Pine Valley’s products use ingredients that are more expensive such as real eggs, oil and flour, he says.  “I’m confident that there’s a value for the retailer in this product anywhere under $4.”

The products are filled, sealed using band sealer and cased at Pine Valley’s plant in West Monroe, LA. The semi-automated packaging process is earmarked to be automated, according to Ward.

With the packaging finalized, Ward says they are using the sellable samples to make initial sales calls to retailers. Those efforts have focused on the Northeast and Mid-South states of Texas, Louisiana and Florida to retailers such as Shop Rite, Target, Safeway, Winn-Dixie, Publix and others, according to Ward.

Like the cookie dough, the project has all the right ingredients, he says.

“This development is a harmonious balance between all of the associated parties,” summarizes Ward. “It starts with visionary ownership that’s willing to invest in an idea and a concept. We pooled the right resources related to packaging design and manufacturing. Everything went so quickly and so flawlessly, it’s just very exciting to know that we’re going to be in stores soon this fall.”

For more information about the brand, visit the Crazy About Cookies website.

Joseph Ward of Ward Strategies, LLC, Ephrata, PA, can be reached by phone at 717-951-4444 or email [email protected]

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