The story: “Cutex has been around for over 100 years and is the original manufacturer of nail polish and nail polish remover,” says John Mandelker, president of Cutex. “Over the years, Cutex has expanded its product line into other cosmetics including lipstick and lotions. Today’s Cutex products deliver on a healthy approach to not only remove polish but also to strengthen consumers’ nails. Our team is focused on bringing innovative products that meet the needs of our consumer base. In 2012, we introduced Cutex Advanced Revival, the first new formula in over 15 years. This product is so unique that in 2013 Cutex received a patent for the botanical oils, which both strengthen and condition nails.”

The challenge: The century-old brand was acquired by St. Louis-based Arch Equity in 2010, which assessed Cutex’s state. Though the company has many faithful buyers, research showed shoppers were having trouble spotting their brand of choice at shelf.

“During consumer research, we found that consumers were confused by the brands in the nail polish remover category, primarily because of the similarity of bottle shapes,” says Mandelker. “Both private label bottles and branded bottles are very similar in shape and size. One of the first initiatives of the new Cutex Brands LLC was to hire Berlin Packaging’s Studio One Eleven to help us design a new updated look for Cutex.” 

“For the decade prior to its 2011 restage, almost no Cutex marketing had taken place, and the brand had lost 40 percent of its market share to private label,” says Scott M. Jost, vice president, Innovation and Design, Berlin Packaging. “Consumers were familiar with the Cutex brand, but with so many competitors emulating Cutex’s once-unique packaging, Cutex was becoming an also-ran in a category it essentially created.”

“Another driver for change was the changing role of nail care with consumers,” Mandelker comments. “In our research, consumers ranked nail care as important as skin care. We wanted to move towards a more cosmetic look versus a function product. Stylizing the products with thinner, taller bottles provides an elegant, more feminine look. We wanted a contemporary look that didn’t stray too far from our heritage tear drop bottles yet resonated with the female consumer.”

The solution: “The creative process was very interactive with Studio One Eleven and the Cutex team,” says Jost. “The brand had just recently been acquired by a private equity firm and had been neglected for years prior. We needed to start from scratch, so we began with brand-defining exercises. It was important to understand all variables: the target market (both legacy and future), the competition, the values and personality of the brand, the functional and emotional benefits, and overall, what made the Cutex product different. As a result of these exercises, we had insight into the way the brand is perceived today, how Cutex should logically position the brand in the future, and how the new package was going to support that strategic vision.

“The bottle has a softer, more modern silhouette, and the graphics are brighter and updated, which have proven to be appealing to the target demographic. The idea is that the bottle is modern and ‘pretty’ enough that you would want to keep it out on your bathroom sink. The natural (color-free) reverse tapered closure completes the look, adding to its height, which really stands out in a sea of standard black and outdated colored closures. The package has a very clean and feminine feel and look, bringing the overall package aesthetic closer to skincare packaging.”

The new look was introduced to market mid-2012, and the brand has continued to see increases in sales, thanks to social media and marketing efforts and the package redesign.

“It elevates the perceived value from commodity to premium product within its category,” says Jost. “The label communicates to the consumer the benefits and that it works twice as fast as the competitor. Cutex has already experienced a 20 percent growth in top line sales simply from consumer appeal at the point of sale.”

“The packaging is eye catching and stands out on a shelf,” Mandelker finishes.” Seeing a new bottle in a category that hasn’t seen a lot of innovation in the past decade gets consumers’ attention. Once they have a chance to look at the product and understand the effectiveness and healthful benefits, we have a much better chance of the consumer purchasing. Our consumers are brand loyalists; they are willing to pay a premium over private label for a better product.”  


Studio One Eleven