Consumers with mixed-pet households are the target of new, shaped applicators containing flea and tick topicals for cats and dogs from Wellmark Intl., Schaumburg, IL. Fanciful and functional, the new Pet Specifix™ thermoformed applicators use a dog-bone shape for canine treatments, while feline products are marketed in cat-head-shaped applicators.
"Dogs and cats have different needs, especially when it comes to flea and tick control, and applying the wrong product can be harmful to a pet," says Dr. Jordan Siegel, Wellmark technical services veterinarian. "Some people are too busy to read the labels, or they simply get products confused, particularly if they have more than one dog or cat in the home. It's an extremely important issue that previously has not been adequately addressed."
The packaging, launched in pet specialty stores this year, adds new convenience to Wellmark's Zodiac® Spot On® Flea & Tick Control products, which have been available since 1997. In addition to the visual cues provided by the unique shapes, products are also color-coded—a feature carried over from previous packaging—to indicate pet weight ranges. For example, products for dogs from 31 to 60 lb use blue packaging, while applicators for small dogs, 16 to 30 lb, are red. In addition, the new, longer, Accu-tip dispenser allows for easier product application for long-haired pets.
Credit for the distinctive, shaped packaging goes to the Zodiac marketing team and Wellmark's in-house engineering staff, which Roy Brown, group manager, manufacturing technology and quality for Wellmark, says teamed up to develop the shapes and present models created by stereolithography to focus groups to gauge market acceptance. "Challenges in creating the packages included incorporating the feedback of the focus groups into something that could be manufactured at a cost that is consistent with what the consumer is willing to spend," Brown notes.
While supplier and material information for the thermoforms is proprietary, Wellmark says the 2-cc applicators are filled at its Dallas facility using an existing pump system that dispenses an accurate dose to each tray. The thermoforms are then sealed with a foil lid that is printed with product and warning information. A secondary carton holds four thermoforms, joined via a perforation, for a four-month supply.
Graphics for the seven varieties of topicals (four for dogs, three for cats) were redesigned with the new applicator and include a "landscape" presentation, rather than the previous packaging's "portrait" design, says Brown. The SBS carton, supplied by Southern Champion Tray (www.sctray.com), incorporates a false back that pushes the product forward so that the shaped applicator is clearly visible through a matching, shaped die-cut window.
According to Tony Schultz, Zodiac brand manager, reactions to the new Pet Specifix applicators have been "overwhelmingly positive."
Zodiac Spot On Flea & Tick control products are priced from $6.99 to $15.99, depending on retailer and product variety.