Shoppers adds some karacter to Life designs

Project: Life household products; Client: Shoppers Drug Mart, Toronto; Agency: karacters design group, Vancouver;

Project: Life household products; Client: Shoppers Drug Mart, Toronto; Agency: karacters design group, Vancouver;

Creative director: Maria Kennedy; Designer/illustrator: Deb Clegg ; Account manager: Amanda Allen

The concept

To give Shoppers Drug Mart’s Life brand a modern look and appeal beyond the traditional cue of value associated with private label brands. According to Arthur Konviser, SVP, corporate affairs at the Toronto-based retailer, Shoppers wanted, ‘clean and simple packaging that says: ‘This is as good as [the national brand]‘ and it’s price-sensitive.’

Vancouver-based karacters has designed 1208 SKUs over the last two years, 700 in the past year (Shoppers’ total private label SKUs are about 1,400). This represents packaging for everything from baby

diapers and dish soap to over-the-counter medications.

The strategy

Konviser says the recent round of redesign, is due to tremendous room for growth in private labels. The Life brand (including Life, Life Platinum, Life Essentials and cosmetics line Quo) represents about 12% of Shoppers’ business or $750 million. But, says Konviser, at U.S. retailer Walgreens, private label represents 35% of sales.

Life Essentials sports clean, simple packaging with typography and colour cues similar to national brands, says Konviser, while Platinum uses upscale packaging and label design for its products that have ‘superior or unique formulas’ and are also a little more expensive.

But karacters wanted to take Life to another level. ‘[Shoppers'] copycat strategy for private label was to look like the national brand on the basis of value,’ says Maria Kennedy, president and CD at karacters. ‘We wanted to increase Life’s notoriety beyond value [and make it] a quality message.’

Why design matters

Konviser confirms that Shoppers typically sees an uptick in sales following a redesign, a fact he attributes to consumers ‘liking something new.’

One of the items karacters rejuvenated is the venerable tissue box, which the agency gave a funky, modern look with colourful, clean lines, attracting mentions in fashion mags.

Explains Kennedy: ‘We thought: ‘Let’s build on the trends of home décor and create something that you don’t want to hide away in the corner and that isn’t your grandmother’s Kleenex box.’