In Stock and Ready to Go

August 12, 2014

Stock containers are no longer low-end, budget packaging fare. With multiple materials and endless customization options, a new breed of stock and standard offerings delivers brand-savvy, affordable luxury even for low quantities. By Joanna Cosgrove, Contributing Editor

Not long ago, stock containers were considered to be little more than standard, generic, market-entry packaging options. Times have definitely changed. Stock packaging still has an ultra-quick turnaround advantage over custom-tooled packaging—not to mention a substantial cost savings. But the real excitement has to do with the plethora of customization options now available to brands seeking budget-friendly packaging that’s still uniquely capable of communicating a distinctive product message.

Due to its method of production, alone, standard packaging can benefit brands.

“Many stock containers are made with molds with a larger number of cavities than custom molds, lowering the per-piece cost of the container,” says Lou Della Pesca, president, 3C Inc., Wyckoff, NJ. “Starting with a lower cost allows the customer to spend a larger percentage of their budget by adding more color to the decoration, adding custom color, or adding soft touch, matte finish or metallization to the package.”

Stock packaging is a perfect fit for many brands for a wide variety of reasons. “First, if the brand owner has a tight launch schedule and needs a package that is ready to go, stock bottles and jars can either be purchased straight from inventory or scheduled in a reasonably short time,” says Marny Bielefeldt, director of marketing at Alpha Packaging, St. Louis, MO. “Also, if the company is launching a new product where the annual sales volume is still unknown, it often makes sense to utilize stock bottles until the company is confident that sales volume will support the investment in a custom mold.

“And,” she continues, “If a company thinks it may launch multiple sizes of the same products, stock packaging lines are appealing because they often give the brand owner many options in bottle sizes and neck finishes to accommodate different products in the line.”

Nola Industries chose Cospack’s upscale stock packaging with eco-conscious attributes that didn’t sacrifice upscale appeal for its new prestige brand, Free Your Body.
Alpha recently supplied packaging to Teadora, a personal care company that specializes in natural and organic products made with novel rainforest ingredients. Teadora selected Alpha’s 2-, 8- and 12-oz clear PET Boston Rounds, via Alpha’s Technigraph decorating division. Technigraph applied a clear, Eco-Frost spray coating and then directly screen-printed onto the frosted bottles with a three-pass process using environmentally friendly inks.

“For us at Teadora, it was all about eco-friendly, carbon footprint—conscious materials from a manufacturer that we knew would focus on extremely good quality and outstanding manufacturing processes that were aligned with our sustainability approach and our attention to quality and detail in the design process,” says Valeria Cole, Teadora’s founder and CEO.

Eco-friendly, carbon footprint-conscious materials from Alpha Packaging were a must for Teadora
Nola Industries also sought upscale stock package options with eco-conscious attributes that didn’t sacrifice upscale appeal, for the launch of its new prestige brand, Free Your Body. In this case, Cospack America Corp., Los Angeles, CA, fulfilled the need through its Stock In Style program. Nola selected Cospack’s new clear PET Icon bottle topped with a metallized Max dispensing cap, as well as Venus and Pure Touch bottles and jars with matching dispensers and closures.

All together, the packages not only respect the product formulas, but create a cohesive family of products with a unified brand identity. “All the bottles and jars selected had the elegant clear finish as well as soft touch that the brand was looking for to accentuate the beautiful graphic intense artwork of this brand,” says David Hou, Cospack’s director, marketing and sales.

Creative Customization

Cylinder round bottles and airless containers continue to rank as top stock packaging choices for personal care products. Cylindrical shapes and oval shaped containers offer economical decorating advantages when it comes to showcasing a brand image, according to Jeffery Gross, senior vice president, Kaufman Container Co., Cleveland, OH. “Stock available containers are very economical with lower order minimums and can achieve any look dependent on the artwork,” he says.

Gross says cylindrical containers have the advantage of silk screening, pressure sensitive or heat/steam shrink labeling the bottle with limitless graphics, while oval-shaped containers afford brands a wide body profile to “billboard” their marketing messages using a heat or steam label application decorating process. Kaufman has performed steam label application to cylinder containers to provide the same affect.

When Great Clips recently reinvented its Solutions by Great Clips private label hair care brand, Kaufman Container’s fresh, contemporary design conveyed “affordable luxury.”
“Additionally,” he continues, “many customers are also looking to add at least 25% PCR material into the total package content to make it more eco- friendly to the consumer and retail outlet they are selling to,” he said. “I see this trend continuing in the marketplace.”

“After researching mold-available bottles on the market, it was decided to utilize a variety of HDPE cylinders,” recalls Mike

Cronin, Kaufman Container’s account manager. “The starting point was the 300ml/10oz cylinder [and] from there, the remaining componentry for the Kids’, Mens’, and Styling products was established.”

The base container color is white, capped off by custom-colored closures to indicate different product regimens and categories. The packaging was also screen-printed using two colors. “The distinctive driver of the artwork, designed by Periscope in Minneapolis, was to overlap the two screened colors, resulting in a three-color appearance on the water drop logo,” says Cronin. The result was a simple, yet sleekly elegant package.

Elizabeth Arden enlisted Fusion Packaging’s help when it sought packaging for Elizabeth Arden Rx, the brand’s first global professional skincare range sold exclusively in physicians offices and spas.
One challenge for stock packaging is the necessity to provide creative packaging solutions for aggressive formulas. “Intense formulas require packaging and decoration that not only looks beautiful, but is also durable,” says Lesley Gadomski, vice president of sales, Fusion Packaging, Dallas, TX, adding that decoration processes enable these resilient stock packages to look more custom. “For example, we have the ability to use a mirror spray technique that gives our double-walled packages great depth
and vibrancy, while still remaining highly compatible with forward-thinking formulas.”
Other decoration options, such as metallization and specialized coatings, are designed to pass stringent testing standards for more aggressive product formulas.

In June, Fusion debuted four new stock packaging collections. Mod and Haute single-walled polypropylene (PP) bottles are lightweight with a modern aesthetic plus have the added benefit of an airless dispensing system to provide nearly 100% product evacuation and precision dosing. The Vibe and Crescent collections are double-walled acrylic packages with luxe silhouettes and ergonomic, sloping actuators.

Elizabeth Arden enlisted Fusion’s help when it sought packaging for Elizabeth Arden Rx, the brand’s first global professional skincare range sold exclusively in physicians’ offices and spas. 

Soap & Paper Factory found bubbly inspiration in Brad-Pak’s stock glass packaging marketed toward the liqueur industry.
The line’s five products—Triple Protection Factor Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50+, Hydrating Cream with Lactic Acid AHA, Brightening Serum with Methyl Gentisate + AHA Retinoid Conjugate, Anti-Aging Serum with AHA Retinoid Conjugate, and Clarifying Serum with Salicylic Acid + AHA Retinoid Conjugate—are packaged in Fusion’s 30- and 50ml Elle bottles.

“The brand needed a high-performance airless package for the professional grade formulas, and decided on the Elle collection because of our previous success working on their Prevage and Visible Difference lines,” says Fusion’s Gadomski. “They believed in the high quality of our airless packaging, and were drawn to Elle’s unique capless design and turn-to-lock actuator.

Because the Rx line was a new sales channel for Elizabeth Arden, speed to market was paramount. “Being able to customize an item from our stock collection made that fast turnaround time possible,” Gadomski says. “We gave the bottles a clean and clinical look with a custom silkscreened ‘Rx’ patterned design, vibrant red text, and a shiny silver UV-metallized collar and actuator.”

Resourceful Inspiration

Oftentimes innovative looking packaging is the direct result of outside the box inspiration. For Yonwoo International/PKG Group, Somerset, NJ, inspiration is currently coming from the ultra-competitive Asian marketplace, where new market launches come in rapid succession and are far more prone to product segmentation and package differentiation, according to Curt Altmann, the company’s marketing director. “From our vantage point, the trends that are currently driving stock and standard packaging innovations are product dispensing and product application.”

Strangebeautiful nail colors are encased in Baralan’s thick-walled glass bottles that share a cap.
Altmann says skincare and personal care products in Asia have evolved into much more complex packaging than just cream in a jar and lotion in a bottle, which has compelled Yonwoo/PKG to seek new innovations in dispensing and application. “Now,” he says, “global consumers are responding to more sophisticated forms of dispensing and targeted application as well.”

Yonwoo/PKG recently translated its dispensing and application capabilities into 50ml standard airless jar packaging for Mary Kay’s Timewise Repair skincare products. “This airless jar features an ergonomically designed actuator with a soft PE orifice for clean dispensing,” Altmann explains. “The over cap is sprayed in pearlized pink, the pump collar is hot-stamped and the inner jar is sprayed pearlized pink with hot-stamped and silk screened logos and copy.”

For Soap & Paper Factory, a Congers, NY-based company that sells fine handmade soap, skincare, fragrance and candle products, inspiration and innovation is a must. According to the company’s Lisa Devo, one of the creators of the brand, the company launches small collections each season. They also delight in offering shoppers a wide variety of shapes and sizes, with glass packaging playing a luxe role. The problem? As a small company, custom glass packaging just was not possible.

When it came time to find a package for its Classic Bubble Bath collection, Soap & Paper Factory reached out to Brad-Pak Enterprises Inc., Garwood, NJ, and was drawn to stock glass packaging marketed toward the liqueur industry, specifically, Brad-Pak’s, Niagara/Icicle bottle. “There wasa really nice variety of glass bottles for our bubble baths, perfumes and room sprays,” Devo says.

The bottle’s long, sleek shape delivered a great contrast to the existing packaging in the line, which was short and stout. The shape also inspired the label design. “The bottle inspired the label, which is very long and narrow; we didn’t want to put a full wrap as we really wanted to show off the bottle and all of its goodness,” Devo says. “We apply labels instead of screen printing to give a more ‘handmade’ look, as we do hand make most everything.It has a ‘crafted’ feeling, but is chic and modern as the labels are embossed, foil stamped and absolutely gorgeous.”

Jane Schub does not helm a typical color cosmetics company, nor does she view stock packaging as mere vessels for her products. A designer and illustrator by trade, Schub is creator and founder of Hudson Valley, NY-based Strangebeautiful, and she is inspired by color coupled with the unique possibilities afforded by stock packaging most people might easily overlook in a trade show display.

A look at Schub’s brand portfolio reveals her long-time love affair with color to be personified in nail polish form that she houses in glass packaging not typically associated with nail lacquer. Her latest Colorbloc series is comprised of two perfectly paired nail enamels housed in stock 4ml glass bottles that are held together by a single cap. With inspired and evocative colors, the high-end polishes (sold at Anthropologie) are encased in thick-walled glass bottles that frame the enamel’s vivid, opaque colors, making them seem almost jewel-like. The packaging was supplied by Baralan USA, Richmond Hill, NY.

“I like small, compact objects,” Schub says. “I saw this bottle at a trade show and loved its geometric, tactile qualities. I told [Baralan] I wanted to make it my own.”

Schub is a long-time customer of Baralan and worked closely with the company to custom design the cap to suit the original vision of this line. The entire process took about a year to finalize. The line spans 20 different colorways and Schub is currently at work on a follow up color line for fall.