An easy-to-carry, stackable packaging design for Morton Salt’s Morton Waves Water Softener Salt Bars makes it easy for consumers to lift, carry, store, and use the product, compared with conventional water softener pellets or crystals. The new product format, a bar, also reduces mess and simplifies the task of adding salt to a water softener tank.
To package Morton Waves bars, the brand owner chose flexible packaging — an easy-open pouch with a sturdy integrated handle. Innovative Packaging Solutions (IPS) supplies pre-made pouches for the new product line, which includes Morton Waves Clean & Protect and Waves Clean & Protect with Rust Defense Water Softener Salt Bars.
In contrast to the brand owner’s water softener crystals, which are filled into 40-pound bags, the bars come in a 20-lb pouch containing four wavy, easy-to-grip bars. An average household would use two packs of bars per month.
To learn more, Packaging Digest asked Morton Salt and IPS about the bar product and its packaging. Answering our questions are:
• Eric Schwickerath, brand manager, innovation, Morton Salt
• Jeff Baumgarten, packaging engineering manager, Morton Salt
• Hien Huynh, packaging engineer, Morton Salt
• Carlos “Boku” Cornejo, VP of sales, IPS
When did Morton Salt’s water softener salt bars launch? Is this a new product or a package redesign?
Schwickerath: Morton Waves Water Softener Salt Bars are a new product innovation that helps make lives easier for our water softener salt customers.
The new salt bars launched in December 2020 at select Home Depot stores, then expanded in March 2021 to select Meijer and Kroger stores in the Midwest. We plan to continue growing distribution of this product at these retailers in 2021.
Who created the package design for Morton Waves salt bars?
Baumgarten and Huynh: Morton Salt worked in close collaboration with our partners at IPS to develop both a structural packaging solution and intuitive graphics, so consumers would clearly understand the benefits of Morton Waves Water Softener Salt Bars.
We began by outlining the project goals, requirements, and potential challenges for the new product packaging and worked closely with IPS to continue to refine and revise the new packaging structure until we arrived at a final packaging solution that works.
Please describe the package’s structure and materials.
Cornejo: It is a nylon/polyethylene (PE)-blend, terminated side gusset pouch with a header/handle. White PE is used on the front and back panels for maximum opacity on the artwork, to avoid a translucent finish, and clear PE is used on the side panels to allow a window for product viewing.
Please describe the package’s handle. Is the handle a proprietary design?
Cornejo: Yes, the handle is a proprietary design.
The handle is a secondary component that is added after the pouch is die-cut. Having a handle and material that can withstand a multi-jolt testing standard was the most difficult part of the project.
The design of the handle was a critical component, from factoring in the number of pegs being used, to applying the proper adhesion between the interface of the handle. The end result is a very durable pouch that’s difficult to rip using hand strength only, which demonstrates just how strong two layers are when used effectively.
What are the filled package’s dimensions?
Cornejo: The filled package’s dimensions are roughly 11.8 inches top to bottom, 9 inches wide, and 6 inches deep.
Does Morton Salt package the bars automatically or manually?
Schwickerath: Morton Waves Water Softener Salt Bars are made with the same high-quality water softener salt formulas used for our water softening pellets. Salt is compressed to form our patented bar shape. No bonding agents or glues are used to produce Morton Waves.
The salt bars are then packaged automatically or manually, depending on where the bars are produced.
Did Morton Salt conduct consumer research to determine what types of features this package should have? If so, what were your findings?
Schwickerath: The water softener salt category hasn’t been reimagined in decades. Through our extensive consumer research, we identified an opportunity to deliver our water softener salt in a new, more convenient form.
Consumers consistently and passionately told us that the 40-lb bags were cumbersome to pick up, transport, and pour into their water softener systems. The launch of Morton Waves Water Softener Salt Bars represents our company’s commitment to innovation — a breakthrough product innovation that’s five years in the making.
Morton Salt rose to the challenge of creating water softener salt in a smaller format that is easier to lift, carry, load, and store. Morton Waves are bars, instead of pellets, and each package weighs 20 pounds — half the weight of the current bag. Each package contains four 5-lb bars with a patented design to make them easy to grip in one hand for loading ease and less mess.
We also included an easy-tear feature, so consumers can access the bars without having to use scissors or other tools.
Lastly, the packaging is weather resistant from heat, cold, moisture, and fading due to the use of premium materials and high-quality printing.
We took the time to listen to our consumers to truly understand what they need and provide them with a product solution that’s effective and easy to use, and to give them what they’ve been asking for from Morton. This includes a range of features, from a comfortable handle that makes the package easy to carry to the easy-to-grip, wavy shape of the bars.
More background is available here.
Is the package recyclable and/or made from recycled material?
Cornejo: The multi-material structure is not recyclable because of the polyethylene and nylon content. We chose these materials as they provide excellent mechanical properties for the heavy weight of 20 pounds.
How have consumers responded to this product and package?
Schwickerath: The initial feedback has been extremely positive. Morton Waves Clean and Protect Water Softener Salt bars have received a 4.6 out of 5 rating on HomeDepot.com. We’ve seen multiple product reviews on HomeDepot.com with positive comments on the handle design and easy-tear feature, as well as the quality of the overall packaging.