For Added Extras LLC, which markets licensed and private-label cosmetics and personal-care items, switching to a think4D label has boosted packaging consistency for a new line of Sesame Street bath products and yielded operational benefits.
The “6 Piece Bath & Body Set,” a Sesame Street licensing project, will roll out in Walmart stores during the 2014 holiday season. The line includes Elmo and Cookie Monster versions.Added Extras, based in New York City, is owned by Li & Fung Ltd., Hong Kong.
Each Sesame Street box set includes several products, including an empty 16-oz, blow-molded, PET pump bottle. This bottle, or decanter, is the item decorated with think4D technology, in the form of a pressure-sensitive label. The labels are made of similar PET material.
Think4D prints the labels on its high-definition flexo press—red for Elmo and blue for Cookie Monster—and then applies a UV coating. Next, the labels are thermoformed, with a shallow draw, in the shape of the characters’ faces. After thermoforming, pressure-sensitive adhesive (plus liner) is applied to the back of the sheet and the labels are die cut.
When Added Extras developed similar Star Wars- and Batman-themed box sets for the 2013 holiday season, the pump bottles were molded with the characters’ features and finished with hand painting. In addition to being labor intensive, this decorating approach led to variability.
“It was a hand-painted item, so there were variables and defects with the painting,” says Dianna Ruth, Added Extras’ director of brand management and product development. “There were issues with the overall standards,” she adds, which is a serious issue for any licensee. “The painting wasn’t consistent.”
To solve the problem without sacrificing the look and feel of a molded decanter, Added Extras completely changed its approach. It simplified the bottle design, leaving a flat space on the front panel for application of the tactile think4D label, and eliminated the painting. The labels are manually applied by Added Extra’s packaging vendor in China.
With the tactile label, Ruth says, “the consistency has been great—there’ve been no variables. Cookie Monster [always] looks the same. We can pull the first one or the twentieth one, [and] it’s consistent.”
The change also has made decanter manufacturing more efficient. The numerous steps required to create a custom bottle mold, including licensor approvals, takes about 30 days, Ruth says, adding that the cycle is significantly faster for think4D labels.
And while think4D is making the labels, the Chinese vendor is manufacturing the decanters, which also saves time. The time line “just matched much better,” Ruth says.
Read more about the think4D technology in "Pick-me-up packaging adds new consumer 'touch' point"
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