Natural Health Product Packaging: A Case Study in Copy & Design

PackagingCopywriting

When you approach product packaging, where do you start?

If you have a brand concept statement or a value proposition, you can begin there. These statements define what's unique about your product, including benefits and features. Knowing and articulating this is the foundation for all copy - packaging no less. 

If you're not there yet, and if you're pressed to come up with packaging fast, you can do what I did for Heavenly Sleep Liquid Melatonin.

Background

Heavenly Sleep is single-product brand by Natural Calm Canada. It is one of their early products, and some eight years on, the packaging was in need of a refresh.

The client decided to add a carton over the glass bottle, for better display on shelf and to create more space for persuasive copy. The original bottle label had barely any copy, aside from the basic requirements - there simply wasn't space.

 The original product before the re-write and re-design

The original product before the re-write and re-design

Heavenly Sleep has been a success in mass/mainstream retail despite not having a formal concept or value proposition. No doubt the strong sales have to do with the Natural Calm reputation. But good sales can always be better sales, and packaging can help.

Issues

When asked to write the new carton copy, I was starting with a near-blank slate. There were two sources of product copy in-house: brochures and the product license.

  1. The brochure was certainly educational: it set out solid reasons for using melatonin, but didn't give consumers a reason to use Heavenly Sleep, specifically. 
  2. The product license is a very conservative source of copy and written in fairly technical terms. A natural product's package copy can't veer too far from the license, but it shouldn't be a mirror image or it won't resonate with consumers. I wanted to see how far we could boost the copy, while remaining compliant.

Action

When you need to know whether natural health product packaging claims will be Health Canada compliant, you can use a regulatory consultant. Natural Calm Canada uses Dicentra. They review the copy, identify and rank the risks, from low to high.

In this case, for reasons of time, mostly, we chose to skip the regulatory review. I felt we could assess the lines of safety by looking at what other major natural health brands were using on their melatonin packaging.

Here's what I did:

  • Copied the official 'claims' from the Heavenly Sleep product license onto my scratch pad
  • Reviewed and snapped pics of other melatonin packaging (via an in-person store visit, because there's no substitute for actually seeing 3-D packages on-shelf)
  • Pulled copy from the same brands' websites for close scrutiny
  • Compared all of these copy sources in a single document
  • Highlighted the points that were most persuasive (the strongest benefits and features) 
  • Discussed and ranked these points with the client
  • Used the best points as inspiration to write all-new copy for the Heavenly Sleep package

When sharing the copy with the client I also shared my 'inspiration' packaging; the other brands with packaging to which we could aspire. The client agreed and we relayed our inspiration packaging to the design agency, BCG.

Results

Below is the all-new Heavenly Sleep packaging, complete with new logo and branding.

                                                                                    The new Heavenly Sleep Liquid Melatonin package

                                                                                   The new Heavenly Sleep Liquid Melatonin package

Looks great, right? BCG did an excellent job with the creative. 

As for the copy, I'm thrilled it gives every possible cue to choose Heavenly Sleep over other sleep remedies and other melatonin products. Aside from the benefit points clearly visible on the front of the carton, under Recommended Use (on the side of the carton) we now say:

Improves total sleep quality by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep. Re-sets sleep cycles disturbed by jet lag, shift work and abnormal sleep schedules. Melatonin is also a powerful antioxidant that may provide anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting benefits.”

These are powerful statements, but still grounded in the license and the science.

We've also now included what isn't in the product: no wheat, gluten, sugar, dairy, eggs, artificial sweeteners, soy, nuts, GMO ingredients. These exclusions are almost as important to consumers today as what is in the product.

Finally, on the front, beside the volume, I've added the number of doses. This helps consumers make a quick calculation about the value of the product: 60 great nights of sleep for a suggested retail price of well under $20.00! 

The new copy adds only a very few words, but makes a much bigger impact.

If you need help with your product packaging copy, drop me a line to discuss.

Anna O'Byrne

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