“Keeping it Personal” Connecting with Consumers Through Design and Intention

By Christine Pietryla Wetzler

Every issue I hope to focus on the new trend toward personalizing the packaging experience for consumers. User experience and automation are critical components of this change within many organizations, especially newer ones who can more easily adapt to improved technology.

But rather than make this column about technology, I want to focus on the intention and perceived experience behind these packages. Why are companies working so hard to find new ways to reach out to consumers? How are they getting it done?

This month, I spoke with b+b® – the pain relief with heart company – they spent a lot of time working with the engineers who created EOS lip balm to design their on-the-go packaging that also incorporates their unique logo and makes it easier for consumers to use.

They are also a buy-one-give-one model business, donating to free and rural health clinics across the United States. Through its national partnership with Americares, b+b® provides donated medicines to a network of over 1000 free health clinics and rural health centers serving five million patients in need. Already, they’ve provided 3.9 million doses.

Founded by brothers Tony and Josh Breeden, b+b® was established on the principle of one‐for‐one giving. Even the logo represents their mission – what many see as a plus sign is two hearts coming together for positive change. One heart represents the company, and the other represents the consumer.

The Breedens grew up in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. At the height of the recession in 2009, Tony co‐founded Ole Smoky Moonshine and Whiskey to help put the good people of Appalachia Tennessee back to work and, in the process, try to preserve the craft of whiskey‐making unique to the hills of Tennessee. Today, they are proud to be one of Tennessee’s most visited attractions as well as the most visited distillery in the US with over 3.5 million visitors annually. With his brother Josh’s help in distribution, Ole Smoky expanded into all 50 states, over 40 countries and is now one of the top employers in Sevier County, Tennessee with over 300 jobs created.

In 2013, to take Ole Smoky to the next level of growth, both nationally and internationally, a controlling interest was sold to Centerview Capital.

After the incredible success of Ole Smoky, Tony and Josh were driven to find another venture to help those in need. Listening to the ongoing healthcare discussions, learning how health insurance is becoming less attainable to many and understanding the pressure put on free health clinics and rural health centers across the U.S. to provide basic OTC medicines, Tony and Josh saw an opportunity. They met with a team at Americares and learned that one of the most significant needs for these clinics was basic pain relief medicines. b+b® was born.

As I mentioned before, the Breeden’s worked with the engineers behind EOS lip balm to design their packaging. It needed to be efficient and easy to use and carry.

Tony Breeden, co-founder with his brother Josh, says, describes the initial thought process, ”We knew right off that wanted packaging that appealed to millennials. We also knew that retailers were going for more sustainable and ‘greener’ initiatives by getting rid of boxes that contained bottles, for example. We knew we could head that initiative off completely by getting rid of the outer box entirely. A bottle with a flat front that could get the brand as much ‘billboard shelf space’ was what we aimed for but was very difficult to design, it was a two-year process.”

He said they paid attention to every detail to appeal the most to consumers, “We worked very carefully with the engineers to make sure the cap’s click was just right, for example, so people would open and close it, repetitively, while on the phone, sitting at their desks, etc. and we knew that that ‘click’ would help brand recognition.”

He further explains the concept also had to fit retailers’ guidelines, “Our goal was to simplify — to be as small as possible and yet functional. The neck of the bottle had to fit the pills and the manufacturer had to be able to fill the bottles. The engineers who helped design the EOS lip balm created the first functional idea for us and that alone that took a full year – to find the smallest possible size for travel, purses, etc. that was still flat and had a window in it, too.”

Consumers need to see what they are buying, that is very important to us. We also had to fit all our messaging and mission on the bottle, especially since we are a buy-one-give-one company. That’s where our logo came in.”

He says the reception has been positive, “Consumers resonate with the interesting way the bottle pours. We do have a patent pending funnel inside the bottle that dispenses about two pills [a single dose] at a time without dumping the full contents in your hand each time.” He adds, “They are reminiscent of fidget spinners. Also, they just look happy – you aren’t feeling well when you reach for and need this product so, the bottles look happy – they do resemble a conversation bubble, and we want people to look at them and feel happy about what they are buying.”

Because b+b provides over-the-counter medicines, they had to contend with FDA’s restrictions which gave them very limited leeway on what they could include on the bottle. He says, “we wanted to be as artistic as possible but fit within the rules of the FDA. We think we really succeeded.”

Currently available in more than 1500 stores and online, b+b is seeing significant growth in 2018.

Check back in every month to see how companies are dreaming of and creating new packages that meet specific and personalized consumer needs.