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Restaged bottle gives haircare products a lift

With the recent relaunch of its professional series of haircare products, Los Angeles, CA-based Joico, Inc. revels in the commingling of art and science, with formulations and packaging that display equal measures of both. Critical in the planning of Joico's repackaging, says the company's director of marketing, Mary Freeth, was the establishment of a strong salon identity, as well as the creation of clearly identifiable categories to help hairdressers and consumers select the right hair products for specific hair types.

“We felt that we needed to revitalize our business and reinvent ourselves to remain competitive on the shelf,” explains Freeth. “Our packaging was more than five years old, so we needed to update our look and modernize our product line. It also was not easy to shop our brand as a stylist or as a consumer. It was a very big line, so it was somewhat unwieldy.”

A year and a half later, Joico unveiled an entirely new look and feel for its brand, the showpiece of which is a sleek, custom-molded bottle with a complementary, flush-fitting cap, offered in a range of modern, metallic colors that clearly identify each of Joico's seven haircare solutions. But, as Joico's director of package development, Scott Palmer, relates, the redesign presented many challenges. “The restaging involved obstacles in every direction,” he says. The main challenges, he adds, included molding and decorating the asymmetrical package, bringing manufacturing up to speed with the new packages and color matching the lines' metallic hues among a range of packaging materials and suppliers.

For more than 30 years, Joico has been a supplier of haircare products for professional stylists and for sale at chain salons, such as Regis Corp.'s Supercuts, Hair Crafters and Regis Salons. A division of Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido Corp. since 2002, Joico is known for its upscale offerings, which range from shampoos and conditioners to gels, sprays and waxes, among others.

With the launch of its new packaging, Joico took the opportunity enhance its formulations, where possible. “We took a hard look at our lines from a formula standpoint to determine where we could improve and get better performance out of our products with the new technologies and ingredients that have come into effect over the last few years,” says Freeth.

The new product range comprises 107 stockkeeping units—approximately half of which are international versions—that fall under seven categories. These include the K-PAK® line, designed to “rebuild, reconstruct, strengthen and protect” damaged hair; Daily Care; Style & Finish; Moisture Recovery, for dry hair; Color Endure, for color-treated hair; the Body Luxe volumizing and thickening line; and Silk Result®, which promotes soft, silky hair.

As Freeth and Palmer agree, although custom-molded, Joico's product packaging before the redesign lacked the sophistication and modernity needed to convey the company's scientific savvy. A new bottle was required to capture consumers' attention. And not just any bottle, says Palmer. “People think that restaging a product just involves changing to a standard bottle with some new graphics,” he explains. “But you have to make an investment in your packaging—it's the first thing that the consumer sees. The only way you can stand out is by having a unique package.”

For the engineering and creative expertise needed to generate a new bottle design, Joico turned to DieterBakicEnterprises, Inc. (www.bakic.com), which specializes in the design and technical development of personal care and cosmetics packaging. Input from Joico's marketing and package-engineering departments, in collaboration with DBE, resulted in around seven package concepts that were then narrowed down to one.

“Some of the more complicated ideas and shapes that we came up with just weren't feasible, manufacturing-wise,” says Palmer. Others lacked the necessary stability and functionality—“they were awkward-feeling in the hand,” he adds. “In this industry, the hairstylists, who are primarily women, have small hands, so it's always an issue when you are redesigning. You have to make sure that the package feels comfortable when the stylist is holding it, and that it doesn't slip out of their hands.”

The final bottle design, in a 300-mL size and constructed of high-density polyethylene, is a slim and sleek column, with the left side running straight up and down, and the right side tapering out at an angle toward the bottom of the bottle, ending in a curved pinch-off. The dispensing cap, also engineered by DBE and molded by Rexam (www.rexam.com), is a two-piece, custom polypropylene closure that fits flush to the bottle on a 27-mm neck finish. The closure is uniquely designed to always orient to the front panel of the package, providing a clean, consistent look when the bottles are on-shelf.

Further differentiating it from competitive haircare products, the new bottle design includes several ease-of-use features. A wide, flat top enables consumers to flip the bottle over and stand it on a flat surface when the product is running low, allowing the last bit of formula to flow to the cap for dispensing. In addition, a lip on the flip-top lid allows the cap to be easily opened with one hand.

From the 300-mL bottle, Joico created a 150-mL version and a 1-L version, as well as a complementary 200-mL tottle. The DBE-designed tottle, made from medium-density PE, stands inverted on its cap, with its left slide sloping diagonally upward and its right side straight up and down, so that when the 300-mL bottle and the tottle are placed side by side, they almost “nest,” explains Palmer.

While the tottle uses the same dispensing cap as the 300-mL bottle, the 150-mL version of the new package has a 20/410 neck finish and takes a pump-spray dispenser from Saint-Gobain Calmar (www.calmar).Calmar's Mark VI high-mist sprayer and Mark VII sprayer for high-viscosity products are also used with a second version of the 300-mL bottle that uses a 24/210 neck finish. The 1-L bottle size employs the 27-mm orienting neck finish and the custom, two-piece closure.

A third version of the 300-mL bottle was also designed for use with foaming products. This container uses a 43-mm neck finish and an Easy Foamer HH Series foam dispenser from Keltec Dispensing Systems (www.keltecbv.com).Palmer says this brand of foamer was selected due to its upscale appearance, “which really fits well with the look of the bottle,” he comments, as well as for the smooth movement of its pump during actuation and recovery. The foamer also provides a longer-lasting foam, he adds.

To accommodate the rest of its product varieties, including gels, serums, aerosols and others, Joico selected similarly elegant package formats in stock designs, custom-colored to match the company's seven product categories.

For its waxes and pomades, Joico uses a 50-mL PP jar from Rexam Delta (www.rexam) with a continuous-threaded closure. Labels, which include a clear, pressure-sensitive wraparound body label and a round, p-s, extended-text label on the bottom of the jar, are produced by Info Label, Inc. (518/664-9411).

Serums are packaged in a 1.7-oz, clear polyethylene terephthalate bottle from Inoac Packaging Group (inoacusa.com), which also supplies the bottle's overcap. The treatment pump is provided by Microspray Delta (www.microspraydelta.com). Screen printing of the serum bottle is performed at Joico's Geneva, NY, manufacturing facility, which houses—along with a vast array of blow-molding, labeling, filling and other processing, packaging and decorating equipment—an OMSO (www.omso.it/en/) screen-printing press.

Joico's aerosol products come in a stock, aluminum bottle in a 350-mL size with an aerosol spray dispenser, supplied by Chicago Aerosol (815/634-5100). Products such as gels, hydrators and balms are packaged in plastic tubes from Tubed Products (www.tubedproducts.com).

As mentioned by Palmer, one of the biggest challenges to Joico's “extreme makeover” was the difficulty it presented in the blow-molding process. “The molds themselves were not symmetrical,” he explains. “This type of mold construction was very complicated in terms of matching parting lines, venting and parison cutting and control.”

After having been turned down by the blow-molder of its existing packaging, as well as by other plastic-bottle suppliers, Joico turned to DBE to recommend a manufacturer capable of reproducing the unique bottle. Easy Plastic Containers (www.easyplastics.com), Concord, ON, proved willing and able to undertake the challenge, and worked with Joico to create preproduction, unit-cavity molds used to produce bottles for stability, environmental and other tests.

Says Palmer, to accommodate the irregular-shaped Joico container, Easy Plastic developed a proprietary method of parison design and control to minimize the gram weight required to achieve a well-distributed bottle. The molder also engineered unique bottom-cutting plates and detabbing fixtures to remove excess parison from the bottom of the bottle and to aid in bottle molding.

Joico also gives kudos to Easy Plastic for its ability to blow mold the bottles using the heavily pigmented, metallic-colored resins without flow marks.

After blow molding, the next hurdle was decorating, which also required custom tooling. Palmer says the proprietary company chosen to print the bottle developed systems to handle the range of neck finishes on one machine, as well as tooling to locate and position the bottles for decoration without regard to neck finish.

The final challenge, Palmer relates, was matching the lines' metallic colors from one material to another, and from one supplier to the next. Central to the new packaging's categorization concept, the colors include subtle, shimmering shades of grey, green, blue, aubergine, rust and gold. The two-piece caps use a bicolor design, where the portion of the cap flush to the bottle uses the same shade as the package, and the flip-top exhibits a darker shade of the same color. To ensure consistency among packaging components and suppliers, Palmer says that once the bottle and dispensing cap colors were approved at Easy Plastics and Rexam, plastic chips were created for the rest of the suppliers from which to match their components. “The color matching was a very long process,” he says. “But in the end, it turned out really well.”

Shipped to distributors in December 2005 and launched on salon shelves last March, Joico's new packaging is turning heads. “People love it,” Freeth tells PD. “Whereas before, stylists were sometimes hesitant to put the old Joico line on their shelves, now people who have never been interested in Joico before are calling us.”

Remarks Parker, as more and more hair products are becoming available, consumers are becoming more savvy. “Therefore, it is vital for manufacturers to develop packaging that will not only deliver product performance, but also engage the consumer to want to buy their brand over the competition's,” he says. “We're very excited with the feedback we have received from our distributors, salons and customers.”


More information is available:
Chicago Aerosol LLC, 815/634-5100.
DieterBakicEnterprises, Inc. New York, 973/473-2995. www.bakic.com.
Easy Plastic Containers Ltd., 905/669-4466. www.easyplastics.com.
Info Label, Inc., 518/664-9411.
Inoac Packaging Group, Inc., 502/348-5159. www.inoacusa.com.
Keltec Dispensing Systems BV, 310 416 32 16 00. www.keltecbv.com.
Microspray Delta s.p.a., 39 02 90 41 461. www.microspraydelta.com.
OMSO North America, Inc., 859/282-6676. www.omso.it/en/.
Rexam Delta, 501/760-3000. www.rexam.com.
Rexam, 812/867-6671. www.rexam.com.
Saint-Gobain Calmar, 800/599-2124. www.calmar.com.
Tubed Products, LLC, a sub. of Kerr Group, Inc., 413/527-1250. www.tubedproducts.com.
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