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Package design drives car-careline



Blink™, a new line of five car-care products for busy moms introduced by Honeywell Consumer Products Group (CPG), is an interesting study in how package design is becoming more important than ever in shaping product development. Says Stuart Lesl1ie, president of 4sight, Inc. (www.4sightinc.com), the firm that helped invent and design the line, “I think what we are seeing is a trend where people are realizing that the package is so instrumental to the product concept, that to position a product without a realistic packaging solution is not as effective.”

Honeywell CPG manufactures and markets a host of consumer-automotive brands, including FRAM® oil, air and fuel filters; Prestone® vehicle antifreeze, coolant and care products; Autolite® spark plugs; and Holts® vehicle care products. Because most of its products are traditionally purchased by men, the company not long ago engaged structural design firm 4sight to help it create products that would appeal to the other 50 percent of the population—a segment that also represents 80 percent of the mass-market shoppers: women.

To help clarify the needs of this market, 4sight used its Cultivate Brand Harvesting™ research approach with women regarding their car-cleaning needs, habits, wants and purchase behavior. As a result, 4sight helped to redefine Honeywell CPG's demographic category of “women” to 24/7 “soccer moms.” This revealed exciting new insights, Leslie relates, that 4sight translated into key product platforms that became the basis for design and development.

Combining function with a fun look, the line of disposable Blink products includes Smudge Cleaners for removing fingerprints from windows, Trash Tossers litter bags, Tidy Totes clutter-collector bags, Mess Lifters stain-remover wet wipes and Spill Grabbers super-absorbent, dry wipes.

While Leslie does not reveal the names of the packaging component suppliers chosen, he notes that final packaging includes polyvinyl chloride (PVC) thermoforms—soon to be changed to a polyvinyl acetate (PVA) material—to hold the 20 Spill Grabbers dry wipes, 20 Mess Lifters wet, stain-removing wipes and 20 Trash Tossers trash bags. The packaging for these three products also includes a sturdy acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) clip that allows the products to be stored anywhere from the visor to the seat-back pocket. An ABS shell is used for the Smudge Cleaners product, which includes a 1-oz bottle of window cleaner and 20 wipes, and a film bag is used to hold the Tidy Totes product, which includes four polyethylene mesh bags sourced in China.

When the project began, ethnographic and other research by 4sight and a team from Honeywell CPG regarding women and their car-care needs yielded “fascinating” results, says Leslie. These insights revealed that moms represented the greatest, untapped opportunity for new products geared to women. “We realized that there's a huge piece that's been overlooked, and rather than target women with ways to buff their dash, clean dust from the nooks and crannies of their car seats and address other, little, appearance issues, we had to get back to basic survivability,” Leslie recalls.

“In driving around with these women, we realized that they have a tremendous number of needs,” he continues. “When three kids get into the back seat of a car, and they have their activities and their school supplies, and they have some food because they have to go directly from school to their soccer practice, a tremendous amount of debris follows behind them. And until now, there just has not been an acceptable way to clean up after them.”

Initial insights by the Honeywell CPG design team recognized that there were plenty of conventional products on the market, such as trash bags, window cleaner, etc., that could be employed by moms to clean and organize their cars. But because these products did not include flexible storage options for the car and thus required trips between the home and automobile, they were seldom used. Says Leslie, “As we really started digging deep, we realized that it's all about this one-minute-or-less solution. Everything has to be on hand, it has to be visible and it has to be ready to use.”

Therefore, the goal became to develop conventional cleaning products with unconventional packaging that is readily accessible and designed to “live” in the car, by fitting in various side-pocket areas or exposed compartments and not in the trunk or glove compartment. To find suppliers willing to go beyond traditional packaging, 4sight had to screen numerous suppliers, which were then recommended to a single, contract packager.

According to Jim Brown, Honeywell CPG director, New Product Marketing, “Another unique and major aspect of this program and process entailed 4sight's integration of a virtual factory approach. 4sight researched and interviewed fifty manufacturers before identifying the right vendor, Rand Display Intl. [www.rand-display.com]. This company showed its flexibility and willingness to take a risk and work with multiple sub-vendors selected by 4sight to produce twenty different components in several different materials without compromising the design of the five new products,” he says.

The final element to the Blink brand design was to create a “personality,” which was achieved through the Blink brandname, created by advertising and public relations firm Lindsay, Stone & Briggs (www.lsb.com), and the bright, fun package graphics and colors chosen by HMSDesign (www.hmsdesign.com). The intent, Leslie relates, was to convey a sense of playfulness that would provide some pleasure to moms, while communicating the functionality of the products.

“We designed the products and packaging with a sense of style and feminine forms, such as arches, curves and soft lines to communicate friendly products with personality that are easy to use,” says Leslie. “Blink matches the busy lifestyle of moms; the products are not aimed at performing arduous cleaning tasks.” By integrating the brightly colored graphics created by HMS with the structural aspects, 4sight maintained Blink's playful image.

Each product has its own vibrant signature color: blue for Spill Grabbers, purple for Trash Tossers, yellow for Mess Lifters, red for Smudge Cleaners and Green for Tidy Totes. An example of Blinks' more feminine side, the ABS clips have an almost “bow” shape, says Leslie, but they have real functionality behind them.

The five, fun, stylish and functional car-care products in the Blink line were launched last spring naitonally in Wal-Mart stores, meeting their requirements, and are being accompanied by a substantial advertising campaign. Working together with the packaging as a “seamless system,” the products are moderately priced, from $3.99 to $5.99, and have met with approval by consumers, says Honeywell CPG.


More information is available:
4sight, Inc., 212/253-0525.www.4sightinc.com.
HMSDesign, 203/831-8600. www.hmsdesign.com.
Lindsay, Stone & Briggs, 608/251-7070.www.lsb.com.
Rand Display Intl., 201/836-8200.www.rand-display.com.
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