Product News

High street packaging dreams – end in ‘the den’

Posted in Branding, Business News, Design, Drinks Packaging, Food Packaging, Healthcare & Pharma, Marketing, Opinion, Product News, Retailers on May 19th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 598 Comments
Den Kit packaging branding

Den Kit packaging branding

Monday night saw the 2nd programme in the mini series High Street Dreams (8 programmes) on BBC1. The ‘reality TV show’ about product branding, packaging & design development. Over the series Jo Malone and Nick Leslau will help a number of individuals as they try to launch new products. From a packaging and design perspective, I don’t think that this week’s show was as good & fulfilling as the first, but still entertaining. The ‘guinea pigs’ included:

Primary school teachers from Shropshire – Jo Jones & Kay Miller who developed a ‘Den Kit’ – a fun and adventure product to help kids play & learn the old fashioned way! Good old ‘home farm’ values and fun!

Initially chopping trees down themselves in rural Shropshire to make ‘handmade’ wooden mallets, they proposed a huge retail price of  £40 per pack. However after visiting the annual Toy Fair where the average toy price was £6.70, they were forced to reconsider. Their mentor David Strang, an entrepreneur & leading toy manufacturer, emphasised the importance of  ‘eye catching’ packaging (good to hear!) which helped his own products increase sales by a factor of 25!

The ladies took this ‘on board’ and a “top graphic designer” was brought in to develop the branding, but I must say it left me disappointed. Although the typography was strong, with an ‘all over’ camouflage effect. Not sure that it had enough ’shelf stand-out, without any alluring photography or a means to view the products inside. But we didn’t have the benefit of a proper evaluation of competitor packs and ’sight’ of all packs on shelf together. Certainly if it had been our project we would have also considered other packaging options (rather than standard carton) to try and incorporate the above factors and try and add more consumer appeal, convenience & value.

The ladies did manage to get their costs down substantially by sourcing components from a brother in the Philippines. Enabling a revised price point of just under £30.

They christened their overarching brand as ‘Real Adventure’ & pitched to the MD Duncan Grant of the ‘Entertainer’ retail chain who was certainly ‘wavering’ and undecided on whether or not to stock the product. He loved the ‘down to earth’ product concept and I think that most of his concern was targeted at the packaging. He mentioned that the packaging  needed “more work” but did eventually give the ‘ go-ahead’ to try out the products in his 52 high street stores in the UK.

The revised Den Kit packaging

The revised Den Kit packaging

The kit contains: tarpaulin, groundsheet, handmade mallet, tent pegs, tent peg bag, 10m rope, metal mug, camouflage paint, webbing haversack & instructions

Since filming, Jo & Kay have certainly been busy and now have other products featured on their website which you can see here: Flibberty

You can follow them on Twitter: @DenKit

The second product featured on the programme was Nutriyum. Husband and wife, Paul and Maria Stricker quit their lucrative city jobs and invested their life savings (over £15K) to create Nutriyum – a healthy drink for young kids. Developing a drink that is both nutritious and tasty is tough enough, but they had just eight weeks to formulate a product in order to secure themselves a place on the highly competitive supermarket shelves. They enlisted the expertise of Ella’s Kitchen founder Paul Lindley and Little Dish’s Hillary Graves to help them focus, but sadly time was against them and despite bags of enthusiasm,  had failed to do their homework!!

The initial products offered by Paul & Maria were banana & strawberry flavours – but containing no fruit! The product was redeveloped within a matter of days from the previous synthetic mix into a chilled fresh fruit smoothie, which the couple were expecting to sell at the premium price of £1. Leslau affirmed the importance of pitching with a real product – NOT a prototype – something that we would strongly endorse. In our experience, retailers, buyers & marketers often find it difficult to visualise the ‘final product’, so it’s critical to get as close as possible with your product & packaging in any ’sales pitch’. Something that can be achieved quite easily these days with the ability to provide quick-turnaround physical mock-ups & realistic digitally printed artwork.

Leslau also emphasised the importance of gaining ’shelf space’ with retailers. I would also mention that stores sometimes measure profits in terms of the profit per length of shelving – which needs to be borne in mind in any pack design! Retailers need to be able to:

  • Restrict their investment to the lines that will sell
  • Buy in small quantities (keeping minimum stock)
  • Buy goods that generate the highest levels of profit

Indeed we would emphasise the importance of meeting the business needs of all supply chain parties – suppliers, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers & customers – all are interdependent.

Manufacturing was shown in more detail this week, as the young couple hired contract filling facilities to fill prototypes – at a cost of £5000 (+£1000 for materials) – only to come to the conclusion that they had been packed in an inappropriate packaging format (an expensive mistake to make and underlines the importance of thinking these things through properly and employing ‘experts’ to help from the outset – which can actually work out more cost-effective in the long run!)

The packs chosen for filling were Guala ’style’ ‘doy’ packs, commonly used on drinks like Lucozade, but would have presented the wrong ‘messages, cues & triggers’ for the ’single shot’ proposition intended. The branding agency chosen by Malone and Leslau were ‘Identica’ who (not surprisingly) struggled to find a fit with the brand name ‘Nutriyum’ and also with the overall pack proposition (considering that the product ingredients were synthetic but supposed to be healthy and appeal to young mothers). So there was a big ‘disconnect’ there. If more market research had been undertaken by the couple before developing their product/brand a totally different & more focused offering would have been achieved.

Ultimately, Paul & Maria realised their problem and simply ran out of time, so decided themselves to ‘bow out’ – a very brave decision considering the allure of retail endorsement and the TV PR coverage they would have gained for their new brand (despite that – they certainly got some good coverage anyway!). I feel that they made the right decision and will ‘live to fight another day’, once they’ve got it right.

As it happens, I undertook some research on the web today, and it does appear that the couple have been ‘beavering away’ in the background. Although the product is “not in the shops yet”, you can find out more about their endeavours on-line (link below). As a matter of interest Nutri-Yum does already appear to been trademarked by someone else (which wasn’t mentioned in the programme by anyone!)  Paul & Maria do seem to have taken ‘on-board’ the comments made in the programme and redeveloped their branding & packaging (and no-doubt the formulation also). In fact a completely different product offering! Certainly an improvement on what was shown on the TV – but probably in need of a bit more work. The brand name has been changed to ‘nyum‘. According to Wikipedia, this means “Swallowing in Catalan” – which I suppose is reasonably appropriately. However, a quick search on Google, pulls up a huge array of ‘nyum nyum’ activity & ‘noise’ – much of which seems to relate to eating BUT none of which relates to this new brand – so I feel that more work is needed there guys! You can see the latest offering on their website

We wish all parties featured in the programme every success with their products, but the big learnings for anyone in their position are:

  • Include product development & design specialists from the start if you want success (we can give you a free consultation if you are unsure)!
  • Make your mistakes early on in the process, before you’ve spent too much money
  • Learn from your mistakes
  • Don’t be afraid to ‘pull the plug’ if it doesn’t feel right!

Next week the High Street Dreams team will help two sets of partners market fashion products. If you want to watch last night’s programme again you can download it on i-player here: 17th May programme


Chris Penfold

High street dreams? a packaging reality!

Posted in Branding, Business News, Design, Food Packaging, Marketing, Product News, Retailers, Social Media on May 11th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 4 Comments
Mr Singh's new branding logo

Mr Singh's new branding logo

A  new mini series High Street Dreams (8 programmes) kicked off on BBC1 last night that is a ‘reality TV show’ about product branding, packaging & design development – and very entertaining it was too. Over the series Jo Malone and Nick Leslau will help a number of individuals as they try to launch new products. Last night’s ‘guinea pigs’ included:

Mr Singh’s Chilli sauce ( and Asian Singh family of 7 from East London who have developed a unique “dynamite” chilli sauce over a number of years and now want to “take on the world”. Having already developed their own packaging they were ‘knocking out’ 1000 bottles a day in their garden shed. However, after undertaken some market research on local doorsteps they redefined their key brand messages and with the help Pearlfisher, undertook a complete brand overhaul. Anyhow, it must have been successful because the conclusion was a trial in 3 London Asda stores and their website now lists a number of other independent stockists.

New Muddy Boots brand logo

New Muddy Boots brand logo

Meanwhile, Roland & Miranda Ballard, the couple behind the gourmet ‘Aberdeen Angus’ burger range Muddy Boots Foods, worked with Blue Marlin. Together they revamped their vacuum packed burger range, which when showed to shoppers in it’s existing packaging, was described as “looking like dog food”. Anyhow, after development of  bespoke ‘windowed’ carton to show-off a tantalising view of the top-quality prime cuts, they managed to secure a trial in a few Waitrose stores (although Waitrose weren’t totally convinced of the merits of the small window). So top marks to all concerned! A good insight for those of you not involved in teh industry, on how a brand and packaging can be redeveloped & invigorated. You can find out more about Muddy Boots foods at ( Both companies also have Twitter accounts (@mrsinghssauce & @muddybootsfoods ) and they both have Facebook accounts.

Next week the High Street Dreams team will help two sets of partners market children’s products. If you want to watch last night’s programme again you can download it on i-player here: 10th May programme

Cheers Chris Penfold

Mothercare alluring packaging for baby toiletries

Posted in Branding, Design, Healthcare & Pharma, Marketing, Product News, Retailers on April 26th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – Be the first to comment
New Mothercare Packaging - All We Know Range

New Mothercare Packaging - All We Know Range

Earlier this year Mothercare launched a new range of branded baby toiletries products called ‘All We Know’, the packaging and branding for which was undertaken by John Rushworth and Daniel Weil. I think that this is a  great peice of packaging design by John & Daniel and agree that the “creation of a coherent and focused sub-brand enables Mothercare to draw on its reputation as a trusted brand whilst adding new elements that help to differentiate these products from the competition”. Look out for it on the shelves and let us know what you think. In the meantime, you can read more about it’s distinctive aesthetic, ergonomic and practical packaging and branding features here: Mothercare All We Know range @ TheDieline

Cheers Chris Penfold

Great New Limited Design for Coca Cola

Posted in Branding, Design, Drinks Packaging, Product News on February 11th, 2010 by Jane Bear – 9 Comments

This limited edition Coco Cola design makes great use of their brand colours, very clean and unfussy.  Shame it’s only going to be available in the US.  Wonder what we will get in the UK for the summer Olympics.

Coco cola limited design

Coca-Cola has released special-edition packaging for the US market to celebrate the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games that start tomorrow.  For the full story visit

Plant-based polypropylene packaging. Is spinach next?

Posted in Cosmetics & Toiletries, Design, Environmental Issues, Innovation, Materials, Opinion, Product News, Technology, Tweets on February 8th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 4 Comments


popeye spinach packaging polymers

popeye spinach packaging polymers?

‘Vegetarian’ polymers seem to be on the increase with yet another innovative initiative that, this time, uses natural cress plant waste, which is combined with a variety of different polypropylene grades to produce a range of packaging materials to suit different types of products with a variety of finishes. Allegedly they are produced using significantly lower CO² emissions than ‘conventional’ plastics.

The material called ‘Agriplast’ has been developed by German bio manufacturing company Biowert, which sources the cress-based waste from farms in the immediate area around Brensbach, in southern Germany, where the factory is based.

This sounds like a really innovative initiative and the the project is a collaboration between German company AHA Kunstofftechnik and French-based packaging manufacturer Cosmeco, who have combined resources to develop this material for use, initially, in cosmetics packaging.

Rumour has it that use of spinach for this type of polymer project could be a next-step development, something that could potentially really increase material tensile properties and produce a product as strong as iron – but this has yet to be verified and Mr P.Peye was unavailable for comment ;-) LOL

The full ‘Agriplast’ natural cress article, 8th Feb 2010, can be read here at

Thanks to @MarktheSpaMan for bringing our attention to this article via Twitter

Something for the weekend? may not be what you bargained for!

Posted in Branding, Business News, Cosmetics & Toiletries, Healthcare & Pharma, Legal, Marketing, Product News, Safety, Tweets on January 25th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 9 Comments

A recent Los Angeles Times article examines how an increase in counterfeit condoms in China has health officials fearing the worst — the products “may in fact spread infectious diseases, tarnishing the axiom that condoms mean safe sex.”

The newspaper continues, “Authorities estimate that up to a third of the contraceptives used in some parts of China are counterfeits, despite improvements in state food and drug oversight. None of the counterfeits are properly sterilized, and others are of such inferior quality that they could rupture during use.”

The article details how authorities are attempting to track down what they estimate are more than one million condoms distributed throughout China, and notes how the knock-off condoms were uncovered in discount stores in New York, Texas and Virginia in 2008.

Thanks to @TheBodyGlobal for bringing our attention to this article via Twitter. More articles like this can be read at:

Anti-microbial self-cleansing medical device breakthrough

Posted in Design, Healthcare & Pharma, Innovation, Materials, Opinion, Product News, Technology on January 22nd, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 7 Comments

This is a fantastic example of materials innovation by Queen’s University Belfast in the growing area of drug-device combination products, moving beyond just the drug component by adding some stimulus-sensitive property to allow the catheter to respond to a potential infection. Watch this space to keep up with any further developments in this area. Chris Penfold

A polymer that combines drug-eluting and self-cleansing agents could reduce the risk of bacterial infection through urinary catheters, say researchers at the University.

The material, derived from esters of acrylic and methacrylic acid, is melt-extruded in a confidential multilayer extrusion mechanism to produce a catheter surface that continuously delivers antimicrobial agents over prolonged periods, minimising bacterial colonisation.

‘Although medical device technology has made significant advancements, the inherent problems associated with implanted urinary devices and the significant role microbial biofilms play in device-related infection are now widely recognised as major disadvantages of an otherwise highly effective treatment strategy’, says Dr Gavin Andrews, who is leading the project at the University’s School of Pharmacy.

Via Materials World Magazine, 01 Jan 2010

Click on the following link to read the full article Self-cleansing medical devices

FDA drug approvals mostly flat in 2009

Posted in Business News, Government, Healthcare & Pharma, Legal, Product News on January 6th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 1 Comment

Drug approvals from the Food and Drug Administration were flat last year compared with 2008 and warnings fell, even as the agency’s new leadership struck a tougher stance on safety.

The FDA approved 26 first-of-a-kind prescription drugs last year, up slightly from 25 in 2008, according to figures from Washington Analysis, an investment research group. New drugs cleared in 2009 included Novartis’ kidney cancer drug Afinitor and Bausch and Lomb’s pink eye medicine Besivance.

Chris Penfold – there are a number of reasons froi this trend, one of them being a reduced number odf applications – so we can’t read too much in to this report.

Sourced from Pharmaceutical & Medical News, 6th January 2010 – Washington, USA

Read the full article at: Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News

Patient Compliance – The Achilles Heel of Healthcare – Technology Breakthrough

Posted in Design, Design Cognition News, Healthcare & Pharma, Innovation, Materials, Opinion, Product News, Technology, Uncategorized on December 18th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 13 Comments

Below is a really interesting technological packaging advancement that is truly exciting and could have major benefits in the healthcare and pharma packaging & clinical trials sectors. Design Cognition also believe that this technology has further application in other dosage forms and sectors and is working with DSM TCG & GP Solutions (UK) Ltd to develop the OtCM™ and Dose Guard™ technologies in innovative ways to meet the demands of end-users and industry and bring this product to market in a viable & cost-effective manner.

Please contact me ( if you’d like more information or come and visit us at Packaging Innovations at the NEC, Birmingham UK on 24th or 25th Feb (stand 582), where we can discuss in more detail. You can register HERE.  Chris Penfold

When was the last time you forgot to take your medication? Odds are that it was within the last week. This makes you part of the millions of patients who don’t take their medications as prescribed by their physician. Medication non-adherence, or mal-compliance, as it is commonly called, is a problem that disrupts the healthcare system in many ways. If you don’t take your medication odds are that you won’t get the full benefit of the treatment. As former US surgeon general Dr. C. Everett Koop said, “Drugs don’t work in people who don’t take them”. In the worst case, you could be among the patient population who are hospitalized as a result medication non-adherence. The cost to the healthcare system? Phenomenal! Mortality count? Sinister! Morbidity rates? Unacceptable!

At its root, this problem, like many, is a problem of human behaviour. Even Hippocrates (460-377 BC), the “Godfather of Medicine”, gave early warnings of the non-compliance issues to his students and colleagues. (”Keep watch for that fault in patients which makes them lie about the taking of things prescribed.”). Even though we are “creatures of habit”, we often lose momentum when taking medications, especially for chronic conditions.

The Non-Compliance Money Waste List

The Non-Compliance Money Waste List

There have been several attempts at using technology to influence compliance rates. As one scans the Web looking for potential help, some solutions that arise include:   (1) A variety of medication reminders that will beep, blip or blurt when it is time to take your medication. (2) A variety of devices that can track the number of times a medication dosage has been removed from a medication pack or a medication container (USA) that has been opened. The data collected can be downloaded at the doctor’s office or pharmacy to check compliance statistics. (3) A variety of devices that can remind the patient to take their medications and confirm that they have taken it by pressing a button to send the data.  (4) A miscellaneous group of reminder devices with alarms, like automated pill boxes or wrist watches.

OtCM™ -  Objective therapy Compliance Measurement.

One of the weaknesses of these approaches is that one can never guarantee that the patients have taken their medicine after an alarm. In fact, one can’t detect if the medication unit dosage has been taken, or if the medication unit dosage has even been taken at the right time.

A new technology has arrived that has the potential to dramatically impact the therapy compliance rates for individuals, particularly seniors, as they go about their daily lives. The name of this technology is OtCM™, Objective therapy Compliance Measurement, using the most recent RFID/NFC (Radio Frequency Identification, Near Field Communication) technology, including embedded sensor functionalities, and combined with printed organic electronics.  The OtCM™ application was invented by Jos Geboers and Willem Kort, who are working in the healthcare industry, especially in clinical pharmaceutical R&D, Health Economics, Outcomes Research and Patient Recorded Outcomes.  To that purpose Messrs. Geboers and Kort initiated the foundation of a consortium that includes all players, i.e. top listed pharmaceutical companies, medication packagers, health insurers and Royal DSM N.V.: “The Compliers Group” (DSM TCG).  DSM TCG wanted a way to be as certain as possible that patients were taking their medications at the correct frequency each day. They knew that, whatever solution they decided on, it needed to be “real time” since any delays in therapy could have serious health consequences. A novel system for measuring the time and quantity of drugs taken out of conventional, existing medication packaging or medication container, is used.  “Leading” versus “Bleeding” edge …

The existing medication package will do …

The system consists of conventional, existing medication blister pack (or “bottle”) of a given prescription drug furnished with “organic electronics” (circuitry, power supply), i.e. functional polymers and coatings, to print “the micromechatronic blister/bottle”. A “traditional” silicon RFID/NFC IC (Integrated Circuit) that has been especially designed for OtCM™ with integrated interfaces for i.e. clock and temperature functionality, provide the intelligence to identify data (date-time) of pills/capsules that have been taken out of the blister pack/bottle, whilst wireless Radio Frequency (RF) techniques (NFC, Near Field Communication) are able to transfer data wirelessly from the “OtCM™ enabled blister/bottle” onto DSM TCG’s webserver.

Driven by the intelligence of the RFID chip, embedded in the “mechatronic circuitry”, and the printed power supply (capacitator, battery), an electric current is circulating through the circuitry of the packaging at regular time intervals. As soon as a dosage is removed out of the packaging, the chip is activated. This information is stored. When in close proximity of a (NFC) reader,  the recorded information in the packaging will be transferred and stored in the server to populate the Therapy Compliance Database of active patients, under all regulatory recommended & required security and privacy conditions, locally and globally.

The standard existing medication blister package will do at a fraction of the traditional costs!

The concept of using the technology of printing functional polymers and coatings is an innovative approach. A large variety of  applications in real-life situations has been brought about, especially for purposes of identification of products and, consequently, the packaging of products.  The standard medication blister package will do at a fraction of the traditional costs!   Moreover, until now, traditionally available therapy compliance devices are extremely costly, even if mass-produced. Mass produced RFID-tags combined with polymer printing will introduce low-pricing schedules, based on factors of 90-95% reduction vs. currently available “traditional electronic” OCM devices, i.e. pill boxes or so-called “smart pill boxes”.

DSM TCG’s OtCM™ technology can be combined with GP Solutions (UK) Ltd’s patented and approved Dose Guard™ solution; a child resistant senior friendly secondary barrier that when applied to a blister pack will render it safe for use. Both “come with the standard, existing medication package”.  From surveys it has been identified that patients and health practitioners (physicians, medical specialists, pharmacists) only appreciate the enabling of OtCM™ right from the medication packaging. There obviously is no need for an additional, “stand-alone” therapy compliance measurement (recording) device separated from the medication package.

During OtCM™ we measure through the standard medication packaging:

(1) when the pill/capsule is taken,

(2) the location of the removed pill/capsule onto the blister packaging,

(3) the correct dosing schedule,

(4) an acoustic signal might prompt the for action,  data re: expiration date,

(5) production information re: temperature, batch IDs from the production line,  drug interaction alerts.

This real-time “interventional approach” is what stands apart from other compliance solutions.  In conclusion, it is clear that there are several technological approaches that are aimed squarely at the problem of medication compliance. Though these advances give our “inner geek” some encouragement, they are ultimately targeted at making sure that at-risk populations stay on track as they take medications to improve their health status. David Rosa, Willem Kort

You can find further information on compliance and evolving technologies, via Design Cognition’s sister site The Pharma Gateway‘. Also, if you are interested in our forthcoming compliance workshops – let us know.

Contact Chris Penfold (

Multisensoric trend key to confectionery packaging, claims German group

Posted in Design, Food Packaging, Gift Packaging, Innovation, Marketing, Materials, Product News, Retailers, Technology on December 17th, 2009 by Anne Dallison – 5 Comments

The use of Multisensoric for confectionery packaging on the increase

By Jane Byrne , 15-Dec-2009

Appealing to consumers’ five senses through innovative packaging techniques can result in increased brand loyalty and greater impact at point of sale, and it is a key driver in confectionery packaging, according to the organisers of the 2010 Pro Sweets trade show.

Multisensoric is an approach to packaging design that allows packaging to stimulate and arouse emotions in consumers to encourage purchase and examples include such elements as striking colour schemes, windows to view the product, exciting rustling sounds and foldout trays.

The Pro Sweets team said that, as a result, the confectionery industry is increasingly focused on touch, sight and sound finished packaging elements such as foil lamination, textured embossing, and varnishes.

via Multisensoric trend key to confectionery packaging, claims German group.