New Packages Enliven Mature Products

Revitalizing the health of your brand or product may be only a package change away - just ask StarKist, Pringles, Corbett Canyon and Birds Eye.

By Kate Bertrand

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Something as straightforward as a new package format can do an astonishing job of invigorating an established product or brand. In the most common scenario, the new package works its magic by offering benefits the original package didn't provide, such as on-the-go convenience, ease of preparation, longer shelf life, less mess or new occasions for use.

Examples of the phenomenon include: StarKist tuna in flexible pouches, Pringles potato crisps in single-serving cups, Corbett Canyon premium wine in a bag-in-box package and Birds Eye frozen vegetables in a steam-and-serve tray.



Flexing with consumer demand

Putting tuna in a pouch, a retail innovation StarKist began in 2000, seems like an obvious idea now. But at the time, replacing at least some of its two-piece tuna cans with pouches was nothing short of revolutionary.

StarKist previously had introduced a 43-oz. pouch of tuna for foodservice operators. By plotting that package concept against consumers' desire for ease of use and better tasting tuna, the smaller retail pouches were born.

"Understanding the consumer need state, we saw the pouch would translate nicely into a consumer retail proposition," says Lisa Henriksen, vice president of marketing for StarKist Seafood, in the Pittsburgh office of parent Del Monte Foods (www.delmonte.com). "It was quite a leap, putting tuna into a pouch."

The fresh, upscale image associated with a pouch package was ideal for StarKist's Tuna Creations line of marinated tuna.

The company's research revealed that canned tuna's lack of convenience and freshness were key reasons consumers did not eat it more often. "Obviously, you can't be on the go with a can that needs to be drained," she says. "The pouch was a way to directly address what we believed were limiters in the category."

Unlike canned tuna, the pouches have virtually no liquid and require no draining. In addition, the product tastes better and has a firmer texture than its canned counterpart. And of course, a can opener is not necessary to open the product. Single-serving packaging completes the array of consumer benefits.

StarKist tuna in the Flavor Fresh Pouch is available in 3-, 5-, 7- and 12-oz. sizes, as well as the larger foodservice size. Varieties include chunk light and albacore tuna as well as the StarKist Tuna Creations line of marinated tuna: Hickory Smoked, Zesty Lemon Pepper, Herb and Garlic and Sweet and Spicy.

The package is a four side-seal, pillow-style retort pouch with a tear notch. The pouch material is a lamination of polyester, aluminum foil, oriented nylon and cast polypropylene.

The success of pouched tuna has been substantial, and not only for the StarKist brand. Data from ACNielsen, New York, shows sales volume for the tuna pouch segment has grown to 11-12 percent of the $1.5 billion U.S. tuna category since StarKist initiated the pouch trend.

Del Monte has certainly felt that groundswell in its own tuna sales. Henriksen says the Flavor Fresh Pouch has been "very successful, not only in terms of causing current consumers to buy more, but also in expanding the category. It made tuna a product that consumers who were not previously using tuna could now use. People who were not in the category came into the category because of this innovation."

Del Monte has found the pouch enjoys much higher repeat sales "than is average for a new product," according to Henriksen. "It exactly hit the consumer need we were trying to target."



Pringles Snack Stacks attack

The Procter and Gamble Co. (www.pg.com), Cincinnati, brought a new look and feel to Pringles potato crisps when it began packaging the product in single-portion cups. Dubbed Pringles Snack Stacks, the product is packaged in multipacks of eight, 18, 24 and 32 cups. The Snack Stacks package is distinctly different from Pringles' iconic composite can — the package in which the product launched in 1971.

The thermoformed, polypropylene Snack Stacks cups are sealed with rotogravure-printed foil lidding. Each cup holds 23 g, vs. the original-size composite can's 200 g. A paperboard sleeve unifies the eight-pack, and a paperboard tray is used for the larger multipacks.

The Snack Stacks package "is really convenient for moms and fun for kids, but portion control is the driver for this package," notes Jim O'Rourke.

Rock-Tenn Co., Norcross, Ga., supplies the flexographically printed paperboard sleeves and trays for Snack Stacks. In contrast to the curved face of the Pringles composite can, the multipacks offer a flat, rectangular facing that provides a billboard effect for the brand on-shelf.

The Snack Stacks package "is really convenient for moms and fun for kids, but portion control is the driver for this package," says Jim O'Rourke, purchases group manager-global snacks at Procter and Gamble. "Having the product in the cup is a great way to have that portion control. It's a bit of a dosing meter."

The package also brought Pringles into new usage occasions in which convenience is key, such as school lunches and on-the-go snacking. "Although some people might take the Pringles can on the go, the 23-g cup changes the whole dynamic," O'Rourke says.

Snack Stacks flavors include Original, Sour Cream and Onion, Reduced Fat and Pizza. In addition, a 100-calorie version of Snack Stacks is available in Wal-Mart stores; each cup contains 100 calories worth of Original flavor Pringles. Procter and Gamble plans to launch 100 Calorie Snack Stacks nationally within the coming year.
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