IR coupon brushes up sales

Lauren R. Hartman

January 29, 2014

7 Min Read
IR coupon brushes up sales

With respect to Gene Roddenberry, space really is the final frontier—but not just in the case of the fictional Star Ship Enterprise. Space also factors into the day-to-day reality of packaging.

For consumer packaging, labeling space is everything in terms of how much room there is to showcase a product and how much space its package has to communicate the benefits of that product. Most toothbrush packages consist of tall, thin blister-packs, and have a narrow footprint that puts them at a distinct disadvantage for capturing product awareness, conveying brand positioning, product features and benefits and inducing trial.

Not only do they have the tall and narrow hurdles of their packaging dimensions, but toothbrushes are typically displayed in clear, contoured packs or clamshells. Being able to see the product is important, so product visibility further reduces the amount of available on-pack space for product copy.

Such was the case recently as Philadelphia-based GlaxoSmithKline's Consumer Healthcare business set about to label its Aquafresh® Gel-Flex and Aquafresh® Deep-Action toothbrushes with an instant-redemption coupon (IRC) label. Measuring approximately 1-in.-wide at its widest point, the tapered blister-pack provides nearly 8¾ in. of labeling room lengthwise, but just a dab widthwise. “When you look at the packaging for toothbrushes, the first thing you notice is, there's very little space to put any [extra labeling],” admits Donna Mittner, graphics manager with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). “And you really can't cover up any [existing] copy.”

While space was at such a premium for the two Aquafresh toothbrush SKUs, GSK still wanted to try to apply an additional wraparound IRC label to the hangable packages to promote the attributes of the Gel-Flex and Deep-Action brushes and offer consumers an at-store savings of $1.00.

A new wrinkle

The limited packaging landscape, combined with the contoured shape of both clamshells, creates an even bigger challenge. The clamshell surface caused wraparound labels to wrinkle during trials, regardless of their shape or size. While the Deep-Action brush is displayed facing front, the Gel-Flex brush is placed on its side in the blister-pack to better show its flexing feature. GSK contacted WS Packaging Group, Inc. ( for assistance.

“GSK requested a pressure-sensitive label with a deadened adhesive just in the center [of the label construction] as a way to accommodate the taper of the clamshell and to keep the label from wrinkling,” recalls Joseph Hartz, senior account executive with WS Packaging Group. “Nonetheless, we felt the design with the deadened adhesive would be difficult to apply, and would still lead to wrinkling.”

WS developed the label as a 60# coated-one-side semi-gloss paper stock with a clear, self-wound PP film overlaminate text sheet applied in-line during printing. The structure also has pressure-sensitive wings that allow the label to adhere to the back of the foil laminated blister-card instead of to the face of the clear clamshell. The base ply of the coupon label uses a permanent adhesive.

The winged laminate solved the immediate problem of keeping the label wrinkle-free, but it also created an opportunity for GSK to do something on the toothbrush packages that it was never able to do before—deliver an eye-catching, clearly communicative IRC.

The design allows the coupon to perforate away, leaving no adhesive residue.

“The construction of the label is pretty straightforward,” Hartz says. “But we wanted to take it a step further by building in this new feature that really bolsters the marketing mix for GSK's oral-care category by taking full advantage of self-merchandising with an on-pack coupon. This is the first time they've been able to place a coupon directly onto a toothbrush package.”

Combined with perforations on each side where the wings bend around the package, the PP overlaminate proved to be an ideal structure for the coupon. And the film adds shine and high gloss to the label, while the coupon is completely free of adhesive across the face of the clamshell, to ensure overall functionality.

A first for Aquafresh toothbrushes

“This is the first IRC for toothbrushes that we've been able to create,” affirms Mittner. “Until this development, there really hasn't been a place on the package to apply one. As originally conceived, the coupon wouldn't have worked because the glue would have ripped off the bar code.

“But the way the label is configured now, with clear, perforated wings that wrap around the package, the coupon cleanly separates from the overlaminate without any damage to the bar code. My initial concern about using a wraparound label was that it might cover up the product copy printed on the back and the directions. But the clear laminate doesn't obscure anything.”

WS Packaging Group produced and printed the labels at its facility in Neenah, WI, using a 650 Webtron, 10-station flexo press (no longer available) that's capable of folding in-line and running multiple webs and a variety of substrates. Measuring 3.5x2.5 in., the $1.00-off coupons were printed in eight colors front and back, and were applied by hand at a regional GSK distribution center before the brushes were shipped to retailers prior to the promotional campaign. With a key objective to induce trial and to attract brand switchers, the money-off promotion was exclusive to approximately 1,500 Target stores across the U.S. and ran from mid-November thru mid-December 2008.

Die-cut at the top with a hanger hole, the toothbrush packs can be displayed on pegboards or placed upright in a plastic display tray.

“Another labeling option for delivering a coupon on such a small-diameter clamshell would be to use a tiny folded leaflet, that we call a secure fold,” Hartz points out. “This could have worked, but it would have been difficult to see, maybe even obscured by the toothbrush rack display. But the biggest drawback would have been the lack of visibility for consumers,” he says.

“The objective of any good on-pack coupon program is to attract brand switchers and new users by making the offer highly visible, thus delivering a purchase incentive for impulse sales,” Hartz continues. “The Aquafresh wrap coupon provides a strong billboard, with bright colors to grab the consumers' attention, which gives this promotion a one-two punch of high visibility and a strong purchase incentive.”

Printed predominantly in lively blue and yellow as well as the white, black, red and green color scheme of the Aquafresh logo, the IRC reads, “Save $1.00 Now! on this Aquafresh Premium Toothbrush” in bold yellow lettering.

Adds Mittner, “The important thing is, you can see the coupons when the toothbrush packages were hung or put it in a tray.” Had they been of the folded variety, they wouldn't have had as high a level of promotional quality due to a much smaller footprint, she adds.

A first for the converter, too

The IRC label took roughly four weeks to develop, from concept to press, says Hartz. “We overcame the wrinkling issue, but then had to make sure that the coupon would get noticed. In this case, the relatively large footprint really jumps out. That's helped move product and drive impulse purchases. Being able to leverage a plain label into a strong promotional opportunity creates a host of possibilities, like using the on-pack coupon to cross-merchandise within the product category. We try to find new ways to deliver on-pack coupons, but this is the first opportunity in which we were asked for input on this type of small sized clamshell.”

While GSK says it's too early to have any definative sales specifics, it's “all smiles” about the results of the labeling program, says Mittner. “When brands compliment one another, as they do in GlaxoSmithKline's oral-care portfolio, this type of program is a particularly effective marketing strategy,” she concludes.

More information is available:

WS Packaging, 800/818-5481.

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