Jenni Spinner

April 2, 2015

5 Min Read
Standing out from the pack
U by Kotex packaging



U by Kotex packaging

U by Kotex packaging



The packaging usually found in the feminine hygiene products aisle is not exactly earth-shattering. Characterized by dainty pastel color palettes and soft-sided poly packs, nearly every container's design is timid, rather than tenacious.


Enter U by Kotex. The Kimberly-Clark feminine hygiene product line breaks through the clutter with firm, upright paperboard outer cartons emblazoned with eye-popping color, a sharp contrast to the fields of frilly flowers and soft-sided bags more commonly associated with the category. The innovative packaging design recently cleaned up at the 2011 New Jersey Packaging Executives Club Package of the Year Awards. Submitted by package design/production firm AGI, the packaging garnered a Market Innovator award, Gold recognition in the Personal Care category and top honors as Package of the Year.


"We are very happy that Kimberly-Clark chose AGI as the packaging manufacturer for some of its U by Kotex products. It's always great to play an instrumental role in helping bring design innovation to the marketplace," says Sharon Meeks, vp of sales at AGI.


In addition to attracting the attention of packaging pros, U by Kotex is engaging female customers by giving them something different.


"The entire category has historically been flooded with this sameness of soft colors, white packaging," says Jenn Westemeyer, brand design director with Kimberly-Clark. "We were missing out on opportunities to connect with consumers."


Study habits


In 2009, Kimberly-Clark commissioned an online study (conducted by Harris Interactive) to gauge female consumers' attitudes toward feminine hygiene products and packaging, and to determine where the category fell short in serving the audience. The study polled more than 1,600 women in North America, aged 14-35. The research showed that 70 percent of women believe society needs to improve dialogue about feminine health; however, more than half of the respondents reported they didn't feel empowered to make a change in that area.


In reaction to the findings, the Kotex brand team threw themselves into getting to know consumers, inside and out, to determine how best to meet their needs.


"We soon realized that [feminine products] is a boring, boring category and desperately needed a facelift," Westemeyer says. "Since we're the leaders and inventers in the category, we were ready to blaze the trail."


According to Kristi Bryant, senior design manager with Kimberly-Clark, the Kotex team decided to take a consumer-centric approach when creating U by Kotex.


"We started really paying attention to what ‘she' [the female consumer] wanted," Bryant says. "We listened, and we identified behaviors and unmet needs."


Research supported the idea that rather than feeding into a sense of embarrassment about "that time of the month," female consumers would best respond to a package that "stood proud on the shelf, rather than fading into the background," Bryant says. The entire package-created in partnership with branding firm CBX-feeds into that desire for engagement, from the bold black background, to the paperboard carton that stands tall (rather than sagging), to the bright colors, to the cutout window offering up a glimpse of the individually wrapped products inside.


Forging ahead

To test the bold new packaging, Kimberly-Clark first launched U by Kotex in Australia. Consumers there share many behaviors and attitudes with their American counterparts, though the market tends to have a higher acceptance of bold messages and "edge."


"Australian consumers are somewhat bolder in their sense of style and body image," Westemeyer says. "We used that as a stepping stone to get to our consumer here. We did a lot of learning, and we realized that if we could succeed there, we could do it anywhere."


The U by Kotex packaging that U.S. consumers see on retail shelves builds upon Kimberly-Clark's success with Australian consumers. According to Westemeyer, an aim of the design is to "surprise and delight" the customer by incorporating elements of the unexpected. The package delivers in a number of ways: inner wrapping comes in an array of colors, enabling the user to select individual product according to her mood; informative text on the back of the package engages; and the carton is printed in matte and gloss for eye-catching contrast. Kimberly-Clark produces the inner product wrap; various partners across the country produce the outer carton.


Response to U by Kotex has been positive, from consumers shopping the item on the shelves, to retailers providing favorable feedback, to competition feeling the demand to deliver similarly innovative products and packaging.


"Retailers are expecting differences and change, and they're putting pressure on our competition," Westemeyer says.



2011 NJPEC Package of the Year Awards

In addition to Kimberly-Clark's U by Kotex, these packages garnered New Jersey Packaging Executives Club recognition for packaging design:




Flight by Michael Jordan
For Five Star Fragrance
By Five Star Fragrance





Sex and the City Ultimate Collection
By Napco Inc.


Food and Beverage
Sarabeth's Legendary Cookies
For Sarabeth's Bakery
By O.Berk Co.


Health and Beauty
Kate Somerville Clinic-to-Go
For Kate Somerville Skin Care LLC
By Padtech AS


Electric Wand Retail Packaging
For Hyde Tools
By Bruce Alexander, MNA/BAX


Color Cosmetics
Almay Intense I-Color Smoky-I Kit
For Almay
By Topline Products




YSL Opium Sample Mailer
For L'Oreal
By Color Optics Inc.


Personal Care
Channoine Sun Collection Tube
For Channoine
By Neopac


Food and Beverage
Earth's Best Pop Snax
For the Hain Celestial Group Inc.
By Smith Design


Color Cosmetics
Lancome Juicy Tubes Gift Set
For Lancome
By Color Optics Inc.


Health and Beauty
Body Drench Quicktan Instant Self Tanner Bronze Lotion
For American Intl. Industries
By Viva Healthcare Packaging


Beyonce Pulse
For Coty Inc.
By Curtis Packaging Inc.




Food and Beverage
XXX Shine White Whiskey, Philadelphia Distilling
For Piramal Glass USA Inc.
By Piramal Glass USA Inc.


The Vanilla Collection
For Bakto Flavors
By O.Berk Co.


Personal Care
Pampers Kandoo ‘Corner Buddy' Hand Wash
For Nehemiah Manufacturing
By Berlin Packaging


Health and Beauty
Estee Lauder Cooling Eye Illuminator
For Estee Lauder
By Albea


Burberry Body
For Burberrry
By FiberMark


Color Cosmetics
Mally Evercolor Endless Eyeshadow
For Mally Beauty
By Topline Products




Reb'l Fleur by Rihanna
For Parlux Fragrances Inc.
By SGD North America Inc.


Keith Urban Phoenix Mens Fragrance
For Mass Retailers
By Boom! LLC


Calvin Klein Beauty
For Coty Inc.
By Curtis Packaging Corp.




A Dozen Roses
For 360 Degrees Inc.
By Standwill Packaging Inc.


Health and Beauty
Soft Whisper by Powerstick Body Wash
For A.P. Deauville LLC
By A.P. Deauville LLC/Berry Plastics


Food and Beverage
Sarabeth's Preserves Gift Set*
For SBK Preserves
By O.Berk Co.




Rolled Edge Paperboard Containers
For MCMC Fragrances
By Chicago Paper Tube & Can Co.


KD11 Twist
For Rexam
By Rexam




Personal Care
Diadermine Lift and Ultime Tube
For Henkel
By Neopac


Just in Case Confidential
For Just in Case Inc.
By Worldwide Packaging


Tokyomilk Dark
For Tokyomilk
By Pak Enterprises Inc.


* also received Sustainability Award



More information is available:


AGI, 708-344-9100

CBX, 212-404-7970.
Harris Interactive, 800-866-7655.
New Jersey Packaging Executive Club, 908-233-1234.

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