Advice on a theoretical Alka-Seltzer refresh?

Postby dsinger115 » December 3rd, 2009, 2:56 pm


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As part of project for an MBA marketing class, my team is trying to develop some recommendations to revitalize the Alka-Seltzer brand. One angle we're looking at is is a refresh of the packaging so that it stands out a bit more on the shelf, provides differentiation from generics, looks a bit more "up-to-date, etc. while still playing off the existing brand equity. We've run surveys and focus groups and some of the most consistent comments we've gotten say that the packaging looks like a hold-over from the 90s -- I was wondering if anyone here had any thoughts or recommendations? Our initial thought was to soften the font a little (maybe go a little retro to reflect the brand's history), declutter the front while still keeping the tablets, bubbles, etc., but since I'm not coming at this from a design background, I'd love to hear what you all have to say. Sorry if this isn't the right place to pose a question like this, but thanks in advance for your help!

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...and if it provides any context, here's an image of A-S on the shelf. Thanks!
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Re: Advice on a theoretical Alka-Seltzer refresh?

Postby Mr-914 » December 3rd, 2009, 3:38 pm

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It sounds like you have a good base to start on (surveys, photos, brand research).

What are you looking at doing with the advertising, etc? A retro look might be a good idea, but how will it fit in with your larger plans.

Also: what is the current market for this product? Where do you want to take it? I can see a potential market with young professionals that have heart-burn on top of everything else in a busy life. I might just think that because it would be a more interesting project though;)

It reminds me though: try to sketch up a profile of your ideal users. Go deeper than just stats though. Give the user a name, hobbies, profession, photo. That way you can start talking about them as a real person, not just a column of data. It helps!

Re: Advice on a theoretical Alka-Seltzer refresh?

Postby NURB » December 3rd, 2009, 3:43 pm

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What about making it taste better? That's why I use Tums, they taste better than Alka-Seltzer.
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Re: Advice on a theoretical Alka-Seltzer refresh?

Postby mgnt8 » December 3rd, 2009, 4:02 pm


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How about a new structure? The Tums & Pepto containers are iconic.
Get back to your roots:

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NURB wrote:What about making it taste better? That's why I use Tums, they taste better than Alka-Seltzer.

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As part of project for an MBA marketing class, my team is trying to develop some recommendations to revitalize the Alka-Seltzer brand. One angle we're looking at is is a refresh of the packaging so that it stands out a bit more on the shelf, provides differentiation from generics, looks a bit more "up-to-date, etc. while still playing off the existing brand equity. We've run surveys and focus groups and some of the most consistent comments we've gotten say that the packaging looks like a hold-over from the 90s -- I was wondering if anyone here had any thoughts or recommendations? Our initial thought was to soften the font a little (maybe go a little retro to reflect the brand's history), declutter the front while still keeping the tablets, bubbles, etc., but since I'm not coming at this from a design background, I'd love to hear what you all have to say. Sorry if this isn't the right place to pose a question like this, but thanks in advance for your help!

Were you in my 10:00 packaging review meeting today? You sound just like our marketing guys. :D

I would start first by looking at your competitor range. The pic you showed us does not really show us the competitor products, but it does show the customer shopping view (which is a good thing). When I say look at your range, I mean look at what your competitors are doing. Does your package blend in with theirs? Is the value perception greater or smaller than theirs? Are they using different packaging than you? What is the top seller in the category and what is working for them? Are you the top in the category? if so what do you need to change to make you better and what are elements that if you change can hurt you? These are all questions that need to be considered in a packaging redesign.

Another thing I would evaluate is the why the package needs a change. Like mentioned above, is it the product or the package that needs an overhaul? Personally I do not use that product because it tastes bad and I perceive it as being an old man hangover remedy. To this point do some research on the perception of you brand, not on do these graphics look good or not, but what do people perceive to be the nature and feeling of the product. This will help in creating a theme for you package redesign.

Lastly, Think about you entire line. Nothing is worse than when a company redesigns the packaging and graphics of on particular product in their brand, but does not think about the entire line. A brand is more than just one product, it is a family of products that need to work together. By doing this you create organization and brand blocking which makes people want to by it. It's a bit like if your office and house is clean than you feel more productive and energized. If a brand has order, than it adds order and looks more inviting.

Hope this helps. Went on a bit of a rant there.
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Re: Advice on a theoretical Alka-Seltzer refresh?

Postby GURU » December 3rd, 2009, 4:50 pm


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dsinger115 wrote:...and if it provides any context, here's an image of A-S on the shelf. Thanks!



It looks like the first step is NOT make the packaging blue. Use a color that is fresh and pops for the sea of blue that it lays in.

The yellow is not the right color, just a visual aid.
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Re: Advice on a theoretical Alka-Seltzer refresh?

Postby mgnt8 » December 3rd, 2009, 5:16 pm


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What does too 90's mean?

I would guess that if you ask your groups about elements of the existing package that they identify or associate with the brand, you would get the bubbles. Why not sex it up a bit to make this powerful visual cue even more potent?
Bubbles can have other connotations - champagne maybe, luxury,

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Re: Advice on a theoretical Alka-Seltzer refresh?

Postby loafer » December 4th, 2009, 10:58 am


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Damn, I want to do this project!

My first thought would be to market it at people in the way they actually use it... adults for hang overs.

Consider the way KY Jelly re-invented itself from a 'medicinal' product to more of an adult lifestyle product. They did a product extension, going from this...

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to this...
ky-jelly4.jpg
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^^^^ not sure why the first image is coming up twice :roll:
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Thanks for all the feedback -- this is a great help.

Part of the problem with Alka-Seltzer is that it has great brand recognition and awareness, but no one really knows where it fits. As some of you mentioned, brand perception is a double-edged sword for us -- on the one hand, everyone knows about our product; on the other, it has a reputation for being your grandfather's OTC product (not to mention the taste). Part of our plan is to change the advertising message a bit to highlight A-S as a "lifestyle" product -- young or old it fits into your lifestyle by offering quick, effective, and SAFE relief -- and as part of this, we want to clean up the packaging so that reflects a more modern outlook on life while still playing off that existing OTC consumer trust and familiarity with the brand...

As far as the packaging, we noticed too that everything is blue. We're a bit reluctant to do anything too jarring with coloration or total redesign, partly because blue seems to symbolize soothing relief for GI products and partly because we don't want to alienate existing A-S users. Initially, our plan was to keep it simple -- maybe darken the box slightly to make the text pop a bit more while also increasing font size to really highlight the name of the brand. In the end, it's the name that sells this product, not any of the other extraneous text. I'm not sure it's possible, but I guess in an ideal world we'd find a way to create a package that appeals to both young and old.

Again -- thanks everyone for the feedback. I'm not coming at this from a marketing or design background so I'm not sure how clear I'm being in my explanations, but the comments are really helpful (be thankful that wasn't me in your 10AM meeting, btw). Thanks!

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dsinger115 wrote:Thanks for all the feedback -- this is a great help.

Part of the problem with Alka-Seltzer is that it has great brand recognition and awareness, but no one really knows where it fits. As some of you mentioned, brand perception is a double-edged sword for us -- on the one hand, everyone knows about our product; on the other, it has a reputation for being your grandfather's OTC product (not to mention the taste). Part of our plan is to change the advertising message a bit to highlight A-S as a "lifestyle" product -- young or old it fits into your lifestyle by offering quick, effective, and SAFE relief -- and as part of this, we want to clean up the packaging so that reflects a more modern outlook on life while still playing off that existing OTC consumer trust and familiarity with the brand...

As far as the packaging, we noticed too that everything is blue. We're a bit reluctant to do anything too jarring with coloration or total redesign, partly because blue seems to symbolize soothing relief for GI products and partly because we don't want to alienate existing A-S users. Initially, our plan was to keep it simple -- maybe darken the box slightly to make the text pop a bit more while also increasing font size to really highlight the name of the brand. In the end, it's the name that sells this product, not any of the other extraneous text. I'm not sure it's possible, but I guess in an ideal world we'd find a way to create a package that appeals to both young and old.

Again -- thanks everyone for the feedback. I'm not coming at this from a marketing or design background so I'm not sure how clear I'm being in my explanations, but the comments are really helpful (be thankful that wasn't me in your 10AM meeting, btw). Thanks!



Interesting project.

My 0.02$ worth is that everything you are mentioning above is exactly what you should NOT do.

soften the font a little here, darken the package a little there, make it more general use, play up how it's safe and effective..... that's exactly the middle of the road position that so many brands fall in, and probably exactly what the marketing brief for the current package said.

If it were me, without doing and further research, I'd suggest you need to go FAR away from the current. Not only does the current look like almost every other antacid package, it also looks like every other package in the pharmacy. If you werent familiar with the product type (i'm not really, never had tums, as or anything like it), and the package was in a different langauge, you could easily confuse it with anything from contact lens cleaner, to toilet bowl refresher to _____?

Light blue, random font, some drop shadows and swirls + a few small print benefits is the recipe for 99% of product packaging out there. To me, it's says absolutely 0 about any package that uses the same commercial formula.

I'd go the retro route. The name alone feels pretty old school. Play up the kitchiness, and the fact that it's all about hangovers but nobody ever says it. Allude to it in ads with Mad Men like double entendres. Have a super retro, bold pack that will immediately give it some cred to the young and the old will still associate with it. It will catch on great with hipsters and grandpas alike!

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For what it's worth, I agree with and really like the retro, 50s/60s nostalgia concept...I guess we're just a little risk adverse when it comes to total overhaul.

If we wanted to play around with this idea and look at something from the "Mad Men" angle, do you have any recommendations as to where we could look for examples or inspiration? We've actually looked at Brooks Brothers with their Mad Men-inspired line of suits as one approach, but are there consumer product-brands out there that do anything like this?

Re: Advice on a theoretical Alka-Seltzer refresh?

Postby mgnt8 » December 4th, 2009, 3:55 pm


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Retro packaging:

http://www.jrwatkins.com/jrwatkins/index.cfm?Country=Usa

Also check out the shaving soaps. There's lots of them on Amazon. I was thinking about trying them out with a safety razor but I'm still on the fence.

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OK so I like retro

Re: Advice on a theoretical Alka-Seltzer refresh?

Postby Mr-914 » December 7th, 2009, 7:42 am

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WOW. I love that Kix box!

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