Health & Beauty

Eyes on the Prize: Arbonne's FC5 Line Captures Translucent Allure

Posted: October 10, 2009 by
Ron Romanik

With nearly one million independent sales "consultants," Arbonne markets its dozens of lines and hundreds of skin care, cosmetic, and nutritional products. Arbonne uses a variety of taglines to promote that its products are unparalleled in quality, purity, safety and beneficial results, such as "pure. safe. beneficial." Fresh off their National Training Celebration in Las Vegas in April, where 8,000 attendees crowded the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the independent sales force is armed with the new FC5 lines of fruit- and vegetable-enhanced hydration products for the skin and hair.

The FC5 line from Arbonne features "Fresh Cell" technology that keeps real fruit and vegetable cell nutrients fresh until applied to the skin or hair. Arbonne listened closely to its independent sales consultants when developing the launch of 14 FC5 products and packages in a short 14-week time span.

The flagship Arbonne line is the anti-aging NutriMinC® RE9® line packaged in orange and gold. Gregory Chambers, v.p. of product quality and package development, explains that whereas the RE9 line helps reverse the signs of aging, the FC5 products help pause the signs of aging.

The brand and packaging were designed to be more fun and contemporary while catering to the expectations of the potential consumer. Though the packages never appear on shelves at retail, the Arbonne staff understands that its packaging still must perform at a high level in every aspect to meet the expectations of its independent sales consultants. "I believe this is much more difficult as far as scrutiny," says Chambers. "It's really magnified."

FC5 = five fresh cell fruits and vegetables

The proprietary science of FC5 captures the potent extracts of five fruits and vegetables—kiwi, strawberry, mango, pumpkin, and carrot—for their specific moisturizing, nourishing, or cleansing properties. Mark Patterson, director of creative services, decided early on to downplay the fruit aspect on the packaging, using only a small image of a single fruit (or vegetable) on the secondary package instead of overwhelming the FC5 brand. "It's a more serious line than that," Patterson explains.

The colors were chosen to express the fresh, cooling sensation to match the experience during use of the product. Patterson explains the colors of blue, teal, and acid green evoke water shades, ocean elements, and vibrant energy. Though the three colors are not necessarily seen together frequently, they are very harmonious while also separate. "It also helps tell that freshness story we're trying to tell," says Patterson.

Mark Dalea, packaging engineer, tested and sourced the packaging components for the launch. The design team went with glossy secondary boxes, but the bottles and tubes have a decidedly matte finish and tactile experience, along with graphics that reflect classic elements refreshed with a modern sensibility. "The packaging really supports the product and the innovative Fresh Cell technology," Dalea explains.

Patterson views the success of the new FC5 package designs as expanding Arbonne's range. "FC5 can appeal to a younger crowd but not turn off the older crowd," says Patterson.

Formulating a plan

With the short time line of the project, many aspects of the launch had to be conducted in parallel. Dalea says the challenge was to look high-end, but still hit a good price point. Patterson agrees, adding, "We had to take advantage of trends already in the marketplace. We weren't going to sacrifice design, and it was my job to make the packaging be as sophisticated and advanced as the science."

One aspect was to line up Arbonne's suppliers, manufacturers, and printers early and make sure they could, as Dalea says, "Get it in the right package for the right price." For instance, the designers traveled to the technical center of Arbonne supplier to nail down how the target blue color and translucence of the jar resin would be achieved.

Usually, it would have been a trial-and-error process over weeks. "Now, we get the team together and get on a plane and go," says Chambers. "We stay there until we get it done."

Similarly, Chambers says that they sought the help of on another component supplier for tooling, decorating, caps, and pump refinement to optimize packaging performance. "We rely heavily on our suppliers," Chambers happily admits, explaining how thoughtful planning easily saved weeks of time and effort in the production cycle. The goal was to make the package production aspect of the launch as foolproof as possible at the end.

"We had one shot to get it right," says Patterson.

Using white as one of the base colors on the FC5 products also made the packages easier to color match. Patterson was pleased with the way the packages alternate, in a fashion, between using white as a base or as an accent. "That way, it's easier to nail it on the first or second time," says Dalea.

A design element not seen here is the printed interior surface of the product boxes. A single pass of a single color was used to create a watery interior, as if the boxes were filled with liquid. Like the exterior of the boxes, the graphic has a wavy water line. The color has a gradation to a more saturated print at the bottom of the box interior. Chambers explains that the cost difference for this added pass was minimal compared to the bonus surprise element experienced by independent sales consultants and consumer end-users.

Marketing a concept

Most of the graphic design strategies are conceived and planned in-house at the Arbonne corporate headquarters in Irvine, CA, while some of the design execution is outsourced to design firms. They back up their design directions with focus groups that confirm that they are going down the right path

For the launch of the FC5 products, Arbonne embarked on a "Road Tour" that hit 25 cities in 10 weeks. They traveled with a 48-foot semi truck with cosmetic booths inside. Linda Melillo, product manager for the FC5 line, worked closely with the marketing team with the first and foremost priority of communicating "hydration" and "fruit and vegetable cell nutrients" that are both fresh and potent.

"This line is all about pausing the signs of aging," explains Melillo. "We wanted to communicate the freshness with the scent." She is pleased with the white radiance and colorful vibrancy of the packaging, and also pleased with the formulation of the all-natural scents. Arbonne tested the scents against major retail brands with hundreds of consumers at the Mall of Americas in Minneapolis, MN, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

Melillo explains the scent for the hair and body FC5 products as fresh citrus with top notes of Valencia oranges, Satsuma limes, Chinese mandarin, and middle notes of blood oranges, white grapefruit and Italian bergamot. Bottom notes include crystallized ginger and mate tea leaves. The face products have a slightly different scent with added apple notes and reduced mandarin notes. The response from the independent sales consultants, who are predominantly female, has been enthusiastic.

Sustainability with functionality

Arbonne is also taking a proactive approach to more sustainable packaging. The company has long had eco-friendly practices such as no animal testing and vegan-certified products. The FC5 line uses recyclable plastic components, FSC-certified board, and vegetable-based inks.

"We tried hard to listen to the consumers and give them what they want," says Dalea. "We're thinking about the environmental impact as well as the consultants needs. That's a path that we're trying to focus on."

Patterson says that it is the little things that can make a big difference in how consumers respond to the functionality of a package. "We really tried to think about form and function here," he maintains. For instance, the team put shampoo and conditioner in different container shapes with steady bases, so that in the shower it is easier for users to use and tell them apart. Also, every FC5 product has some translucence, so the user knows when it is time to reorder.

The Arbonne design team also compiled a healthy amount of different research findings to determine the appropriate sizes of the packages, including surveying current salon package sizes. The key question became "What are potential customers expecting?" The packages are not any prescribed supply for a specific number of days or weeks, but rather an average of typical usage rates for 30 to 45 days.

The project team went with airless pumps on the pump packages for the benefit of evacuating all of the product. For a quality product, consumers expect that they will be able to access every drop. "The pump was the No. 1 performance issue we had to address," admits Chambers. Once the formula consistency was determined for each product, the supplier refined the pumps to perform optimally.