The wholesome, nutritious Chicken Soup for the Soul pet food line recently underwent a brand refresh that included new Small Bites offering, a dynamic packaging redesign and new product names/labels.
Packaging Digest interviewed Chris Mitchell, CEO for the Chicken Soup for the Soul's pet division to gain insight into its product's exciting new look.
Please describe the products
Mitchell: The entire Chicken Soup for the Soul pet food line is wholesome, balanced nutrition and includes only the finest ingredients with four fresh proteins (chicken, turkey, duck and salmon), fruits and vegetables like peas, spinach, carrots, apples, tomatoes, blueberries and cranberries. As part of our repackaging efforts, we made the dry food formulas even better by increasing the protein and replacing some millet with peas. Our pet food line now includes the following offerings, some of which have changed names (to be more consistent with current industry practice) but still have the same great formulas with the minor improvements described above.
When and where (regionally or nationally) were the products introduced?
Mitchell: Products in the new packaging started shipping to distributors nationally in the middle of January, with consumers starting to see them at their favorite independent pet specialty stores in February.
What prompted this introduction and why this particular timing?
Mitchell: On July 1, 2013, Chicken Soup for the Soul took over the strategy, sales, marketing, product development and customer service roles from its licensee, Diamond Pet Foods, for the first time in its pet brand’s ten-year history to better integrate Chicken Soup for the Soul’s pet business with the parent company and the full Chicken Soup for the Soul family of products. We are continuing to partner with Diamond Pet Foods for manufacturing and distribution. As part of this integration with our publishing, comfort food and media businesses—we launched our new packaging to improve the packaging quality, update the look and connect consumers to the look and feel of our bestselling books.
What were the key goals and requirements from a marketing view? From a packaging view?
Mitchell: From a marketing view, we wanted to update the packaging to be more in line with current CPG packaging trends and more consistent with our books while at the same time keeping enough design elements from the old packaging to remain familiar to our loyal customers. By tying our logo, with the same wave and color palette as our books—we created a look that feels like part of the Chicken Soup for the Soul family. We wanted a clean, fresh look that would have shelf appeal as well as color-coded categories that would make finding the right formula easy. We also stayed true to our brand’s roots by including a story from our bestselling pet books on each product.
What were the key goals of the graphics design?
Mitchell: It was important to us to retain brand recognition while at the same time updating and energizing our product line. Visually, we chose the elements of the logo and the image of the ingredients and photographs that capture the unique relationship between pets and people as key carryover images to the new packaging with the color palette, waves and fonts of our books and new website.
Describe packaging components of bag and label
Mitchell: We chose a laminated multi-layer film structure because it synergistically combines the properties of different components in order to optimize packaging performance and functionality. The structure of the film offers a durable package for heavy weight products and exceptional barrier properties, reducing spoils and damages, and increasing shelf life.
Quad seal bags create a distinctive difference in shelf appearance. Sealed on the four corners of the bag so it stands up straight, the quad seal bag offers improved visibility on store shelves, four crisp, clean panels for graphic placement, and an overall superior shelf presence.
High Definition Flexographic reverse printing is done on a 10-color press and offers high quality print and registration accuracy, bringing together consistency, vibrant colors, and crisp process images for exceptional printing and graphic reproduction.
What vendors were selected?
Mitchell: We selected Morris Packaging to produce our new dry product packaging because they came highly recommended as a leading design and manufacturer of a wide range of packaging materials for over 50 years. We are very happy with our selection as they delivered a high quality product on time with one of the best customer service cultures that we have ever seen.
Any third-party involvement such as a packaging consultant or design company that should be credited?
Mitchell: In order to maximize brand consistency, we went to the same designer who does all of our book covers, including our bestselling dog and cat titles to design the packaging. Brian Taylor at Pneuma Books, who also has an extensive background in CPG work, designed all of our new packaging in close collaboration with our team at Chicken Soup for the Soul. We utilized the photography talents of Matt Abourezk from Talking Box Digital Media to capture wonderful photos of our “pet models” which was no easy feat as we opted to use all shelter animals for all of our new packages.
What was the reception by the trade and by consumers?
Mitchell: We have received a very positive response to the new look and feel of our labels and bags from our distributors, retailers and consumers; they are excited about the refreshed line as well as the slightly improved formulas. They have also been very pleased by our support of shelter animals and appreciative of our unique approach of featuring adopted rescue pets and their stories on every product and making donations to a local shelter to help find more animals their “forever homes.” We took this opportunity to make our packaging consistent with industry leading CPG trends and to improve the quality of our packaging and food formulas.
We now have an even better product with an exciting new look all at a price per pound that is still over 20 percent less than our key competitors. We think we’re the best value in the independent pet specialty channel and that is right in line with the positioning of all Chicken Soup for the Soul products—premium quality at or lower than most national brand prices.
Chicken Soup for the Soul
Morris Packaging, 309-663-9100309-663-9100
Talking Box Digital Media, 203-249-7718203-249-7718