DOUGLASSVILLE, Pa. -- How long does it take to prepare for a new product launch? On a fast track 150 days is possible, as Kiwi Brands proved with its Ty-D-Bol Triple Action Stain-Fighting Liquid.
The brand's first foray into manual toilet bowl cleaners was launched last October after just five months for package design, procurement and production startup.
It's not easy to keep such a schedule, admitted Jim Rethore, marketing product manager for Ty-D-Bol, Kiwi Brands here. But, he said, it's possible when you have good people, good vendors and a "go-out-and-do-it attitude."
A fast-track project requires a close working relationship, clear communication and trust by everyone involved, according to Nancy Mandle, a principal of J.S. Mandle & Co., the Paramus, N.J., design firm responsible for both the bottle and graphics.
"Short lead times are not uncommon these days, so we use a team approach and work at several different levels at the same time, to keep projects moving," she said. "It also helps that we're totally computer-based," she added.
Working on several different levels enabled the design team to continue to move forward with the Triple Action design even when certain details weren't finalized. "Sometimes we had to go back a step and tweak," she admitted, "but this is not nearly as devastating as it used to be due to the computer files."
To break through the clutter of a crowded category, Mandle designed a custom high-density polyethylene bottle with an angled neck, recessed label panels and molded instructions on the back to "shake before use." The bottle is blow-molded by Graham Engineering Corp., York, Pa., with 28% post-consumer recycled content to meet recycled-content regulations that took effect in some states Jan. 1.
The bottle design actually goes back about six or seven years, when Kiwi bought the Ty-D-Bol brand and the design firm helped them create a new image for the well-known automatic bowl cleaner for the toilet tank.
"We designed that bottle to be more ergonomically friendly than others in the category," recalled Mandle. The design is narrower front-to-back to fit better in a woman's hand, and it features ridges on the front left-hand corner for better gripping. "People want to control this type of product. They don't want it to splash or drip," she explained.
With the Triple Action bottle, "the idea was to maintain a family look," said Rethore. "If we were to cut the bottle in half and remove the angled top, the structure would match our existing bottle," he added. Having the same footprint also is an advantage on Kiwi's filling lines.
Along with the angled neck the Triple Action bottle has back gripper bars, so when the user wants to apply the liquid to the toilet bowl rim, an indentation provides a ledge to hold onto.
The angled neck points left to set it apart on the shelf where all the competitors angle right. Since the direction of the angle doesn't make any difference in use, going left was an important tool to catch the consumer's attention in a crowded category.
The closure, a 33-millimeter Twist Open/Close dispenser from Stull Closure Technologies, Randolph, N.J., was chosen because it has a 0.174-inch self-cleaning orifice to accommodate the thick product and can dispense in a directional stream. As a stock design, it also was available for quick delivery. Custom-colored in the brand's signature blue, it is the first use of the closure outside the mustard category for which it was designed.
Child resistance is not required because the product uses a less toxic citric acid base instead of hydrochloric acid.
Completing the package are pressure-sensitive paper labels printed flexographically by Beckett Corp., Lionville, Pa. The front label is done in six colors (four process, two line), plus ultraviolet coating; the back label is in two colors.
Graphics were designed according to Kiwi's goals to communicate the Ty-D-Bol brand look and name, the product's cleaning power and three benefits: non-scratch cleanser, heavy-duty cleaner, and deodorizing fresh scent.
In May 1994, as Graham got to work on the bottle tooling and thoughts turned to the graphic design, store audits showed competitive products tended to feature line illustrations and a lot of copy to read, a strong, but not particularly consumer- friendly image. "We felt Kiwi needed to marry strength with approachability," said Mandle.
As the design team considered ways to show strength and power in something other than a line illustration,
they zeroed in on some sort of moving water because it would communicate cleanliness, freshness, power and bathroom product. "Anytime you can get graphic elements to do double duty you gain a whole lot," explained Mandle.
The final choice was a wave image. "You can almost hear the power of the wave crashing on shore, and there's also a refreshing element because every time a wave comes by, it cleans," she said. The wave image permitted use of a photograph, something that consumers would relate to and that's also different for the category. In addition, it serves as the background for the three-product benefits.