A Natural Move for St. Ives
The olives look real enough to take a bite. The sunflower beckons its viewers to reach out and smell. The light dancing through the crystals paints a picture of serene beauty. And the sun appears warm and inviting. These images are not part of a photographer’s portfolio; instead, they grace the packaging of the new St. Ives Elements collection, a line of five products that launched earlier this year.
“The graphics are iconic,” says Dennis Furniss, executive vice president of strategic branding and design for Chicago-based Kaleidoscope, which partnered with brand owner Alberto-Culver Company on the project. “We wanted to create something that was fresh and alive-a living natural.”
Photograph-quality graphics, simple messaging and natural ingredients minimize the brand’s Swiss connection and, instead, focus on its natural benefits. The end result is a premium collection that is enjoying high-impact on shelf and robust attention from youthful, environmentally aware consumers.
RE-POSITIONING THE PAST
The new collection comes on the heels of a full restage of the parent brand, completed two years ago with the help of Kaleidoscope. While the restage embraced the brand as a Swiss skin care solution, the new Elements collection went in a different direction-in part, due to competitive analysis that revealed many competitors within the mass setting were positioning themselves as European.
Alberto-Culver and Kaleidoscope saw an opportunity in the natural, mass-market category, so they worked to develop an image that tapped the idea of natural without looking too “granola”.
“We came across a look that was natural but also had niche appeal. It didn’t seem to be at odds or at competition with anything else on the shelf,” Furniss explains. “It has all of the qualities of a boutique brand-a boutique product in a mass world.”
Ingredients are a key concern for the brand. As such, each graphic in the St. Ives line connects with an ingredient in the product or a product benefit.
The olive scrub and olive cleanser share images of olives and olive branches. Graphics for the microdermabrasion product include crystal imagery to reflect its use of mineral crystals. A sunflower clothed in deep maroon and yellow adorns the cover of the warming scrub, which touts the use of sunflower extract and other natural ingredients. And an illustration of the sun graces the bottle of the protective cleanser, a formula with SPF.
Even the name of the collection, Elements, was chosen because it “keeps it on the ingredient level,” says Furniss.
But the name has additional significance. “Balancing the negative effects of environmental factors on your skin, to the concept of the elements (earth, air, fire, water) as the inspiration for the line, we created a unique brand packaging solution,” Furniss says.
The new line’s target demographic is a youthful consumer who is more concerned with “femininity and inner well being” than controlling the signs of aging. The St. Ives Elements collection offers practical, everyday products to maintain skin health and capitalizes on the parent brand’s well-regarded niche in scrubs.
Despite the brand’s proven history, the new line was careful not to over-promise. “We are not promising eternal youth,” says Furniss, “we are promising something rich, natural and very refreshing.”
PACKAGING DRIVES TRIALS
Effectively communicating this promise through packaging was vital to the success of the Elements collection. “In our testing, packaging was a key driver of trial, with very strong scores,” says Bob Gorman, St. Ives marketing director at Alberto-Culver. “Packaging was a clear part of making this whole initiative work.”
The new collection is sold at a higher price point than the core line. For this reason, the packaging needed to also relay its premium positioning, says Gorman, while remaining true to its other values, “efficacy and naturalness”.
The life-like graphics were lithograph-printed and enhanced with hot foil stamping, and the traditional St. Ives’ logo was modified: Instead of featuring ice-capped mountains, the logo simply states the brand name in a modern, sleek typeface. The shape of the containers was also important. To emphasize the fact that this was a premium collection, Alberto-Culver and Kaleidoscope used different forms than those for the core line, which is primarily housed in six-ounce tubes.
Although the company initially sought to differentiate through shape, stock structures were chosen for the new line. “We felt that we could do something unique and compelling without using custom structures,” says Furniss. “Stock structures put us into a disciplined mindset and made us focus on not overselling it, not making it look apothecary.”
But the sheer volume of stock choices made the search a challenge. The containers and components were sourced from a variety of different suppliers and the structural packaging team went to great lengths to bring stock structures together that, Furniss says, “felt like a family”.
The St. Ives Elements project took about two and half months from the initial discussion to the final product.
“This was one of those rare projects that was really open-ended. We knew there was a huge opportunity to have an opinion on natural,” says Furniss. “There were opportunities to give [the line] more reason for shelf placement.”
The Kaleidoscope team threw tremendous effort into strategy before the design phase ever took place. Most of the development time was spent on strategic planning, while the design process lasted about three weeks.
Furniss attributes the extensive planning to Elements’ early success. “When it went to quantitative tests, it was an out-of-the-gate success,” he says. In addition, “we saw consumers putting their own thoughts together of why it is a great new product. They really painted their own vision.”
Six concepts were tested before the final look and idea were selected.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
Armed with data that credits packaging as a driver of purchase intent, the brand decided to eschew the “flawless-skinned” models used in ads by many beauty brands and, instead, championed packaging in its marketing efforts.
“We have extensive print and digital campaigns, but in both we are highlighting the packaging as hero,” says Gorman.
This is a new strategy for St. Ives, but, given its savvy target audience and the new packaging, it’s one that Gorman says will likely be effective. “We are very proud of the packaging and we feel that it can be a real driver…packaging brings the product proposition to life.” BP