Multipacks let Consumers Carry On and On

by Sandy Parlin
Carriers help with hard-to-handle merchandise, and can mean higher rings on the register
Today’s multipacks are doing for large bottles of liquid refreshment what the six-pack did for smaller-sized bottles and cans years ago. Is anyone old enough to remember struggling with a bag full of bottles? With the new carriers, consumers can buy several large containers or lots of little ones in easier-to-carry cartons and wraps, and manufacturers often have more merchandising space for retail displays.
KHS Inc., headquartered in Waukesha, Wis., supplies packaging and shrinkwrapping equipment to food and beverage companies. Samantha Bishop, marketing specialist in KHS’ Edgewater, Fla., location says the current trend in multipack technology is moving toward more cartons.
Bishop notes that mega-stores allow consumers to stock their home pantries with more products. The marketing specialist says that six- and 12- packs are the current leaders in multipacking because they give manufacturers more options for display on shelves and point-of-purchase pallets in the stores. To make the most of the extra message space, Bishop suggests that multipacked products be placed in more than one location in a supermarket using a variety of displays.
Looking toward the future, Bishop forecasts thinner, less expensive carton materials and more easy-open perforations in multipacks.
Driving Volume
Edward Farley, director of sales for Axon Corp, Raleigh, N.C., says most of Axon’s applications create twin packs or four-packs. “Multipacking is a big driver in the marketplace,” he says. “It’s the ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ mentality. There is more product volume for the manufacturer and a higher perceived value for the consumer.”
He notes that multipacking provides a bulk product without the need for a new package design. “You can sell two half-gallons instead of a gallon. You’re creating new SKUs without having to create a new package,” he says.
Roberts PolyPro manufactures plastic fixtures for consumer packaging and parts application equipment to apply the handles, spouts and other plastic fixtures, all of which can be custom designed. For the beverage industry it manufactures two-, three-, four-, six- and eight-packs for plastic bottles. John Eklund, marketing director for Roberts PolyPro at its headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., says two-packs are becoming popular in club stores where customers buy in bulk. Sam’s Club and Costco, for instance, carry 1-gallon and 96-ounce containers.
“With our carriers, we can put the UPC code right on the handle. You can have two single gallons of juice with a handle in between them containing the UPC code,” he says. “Products can be sold in two ways; as a gallon of juice for regular grocery stores and a multipack for club stores. You put a handle on it and it becomes a different package.”
A small machine that makes minimal impact in the line, adds the handles, which can be applied right into the cases just before they go out the door. Roberts PolyPro offers the carriers in custom colors, and Eklund notes that the handles help avoid the loss of package integrity that can occur when alternative shrinkwrap is punctured or tears.
Eklund says the handles also can be attached to large gallon-sized bottles in addition to their use in multipacking. Roberts PolyPro offers single plastic bottle carriers for that purpose. “The 128-ounce bottle can be difficult to manage. Some have handles actually blown into the bottle,” he explains. “We make the plastic carrier that is added to the neck of the bottle afterwards to aid in lifting and pouring. Our offering is unique — we ship it in a welded format, similar to the way staples are welded. The carriers are welded together for co-packers who do the bottling and are placed onto the equipment in stacks and loaded in groups in an automatic application.”
Wrap It Up
Making the case for shrinkwrap, Lani Craddock, director of new business development at Exopack in Spartanburg, S.C., says pre-printed shrinkfilm gives multipacks a new identity on store shelves. “Instead of seeing three or four individual labels on a can or bottle showing through a film, the product brand covers the entire front, top and back of the package,” she says. “It is much easier for consumers to find their favorite brands and for brand managers to communicate their brand promise.”
She adds that shrinkwrap ensures a full SKU scan of the multipack instead of a misread of an individual unit within the mutlipack. Register efficiency is improved by facilitating a single scan rather than a multiple same-item scan.
Craddock notes that multipacks lend themselves to traditional shelf placement and special end-caps, front-of-store promotional displays and refrigerated and frozen cabinets. “No area of the supermarket is off limits to multipacking,” she emphasizes. “As shrink packaging equipment continues to evolve, material manufacturers such as Exopack have stepped up to the plate with materials that provide better clarity, toughness, sealability and shrink characteristics.”