Re-shaping a well-known brand
A Boots case study

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Page 4: Packaging research

Boots 4 Image 4Research indicated that 17 had a strong appeal to 15-19 year olds. The streetcred of 17 was good and there was a good fit with the perception of 17 with a fun, confident and daring lifestyle. The advertising strapline ‘It’s not make-up, it’s ammunition’ was the major contributor to the brand’s image. The packaging, however, was not well received and was not recognised as delivering the promise delivered in the advertising campaign. The old packaging was felt to:

  • undervalue the brand
  • cheapen the range of products
  • suggest a basic product portfolio
  • lack desirability.

It was important to raise the status of the brand so that it would reflect the personality and lifestyle of its users - becoming a brand in its own right which would go beyond ‘Boots for
Youth’. 17 was thus scheduled for a packaging re-launch in 1998. The research
objectives were to look at:

  • colour - to look at the colour preference for the brand and make a decision whether to move away from the navy blue
  • logo design - to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of six new logo designs
  • pack design - to establish the strengths and weaknesses of the newly proposed design features.

Approaches to research

There are many different approaches to research. A popular approach in recent years has been by focus group. Focus groups comprise small groups of individuals and are used to discover the views which people have about issues relating to products. For 17, research was based on a number of friendship discussions amongst young women, plus a number of more detailed interviews. Stimulus materials were used for these meetings such as:

  • boards showing the new logo styles and design features
  • the range of 17 products
  • examples of lipstick, nail varnish, mascara and other products from competitive brands
  • 17 advertisements.

This research showed that the favourite packaging for 15 to 19 year olds had:

  • unusual materials (such as a matt finish)
  • dark colours (and were not plastic looking)
  • recognisable markings (such as logos and designs)
  • chunky, rounded shapes
  • consistency across a range of products
  • a touch of silver or gold
  • practicality (pocketable, easy to use, with mirrors or applicators)
  • conformist shapes.

Individuals unanimously preferred the deep blue of 17. It was seen as a strong point of distinctiveness. Black was considered to be lazy and predictable and green was not considered to be a colour of fun or assertiveness. The silver element of 17 was recognised to have higher status than ever before. Silver was valued by young women as being fashionable and chic, helping to develop a clean, simple and individualistic image. Silver was also considered the perfect complement to the blue. The matt finish was appealing and the new componentry shape of the cosmetics was positively welcomed. They provided intrinsic aesthetic appeal and an impression of quality. The current 17 logo was popular and none of the newly developed logo designs offered a strong rationale for replacement. It was, however, important to give the 17 logo greater prominence so that it would develop value in its own right.

These key design issues were identified through the research and aimed to provide a distinctive change to the 17 range. It was important that the process showed consumers that the repositioning was not simply a ‘tweak’. The new design could only have impact by emphasising the bold personality of the range to create a ‘must have’ brand.

Boots | Re-shaping a well-known brand