This year's most profitable designs

Oslo: One company boosted sales of flavoured milk by 110 per cent, another has helped the environment, reduced the strain on its employees and saved NOK 15 million while a third company increased sales of yoghurt by 276 per cent. On Wednesday afternoon, Litago, Norway Post, Fjordland and nine other companies were awarded Design Effect awards.

The awards were presented during Business Day 2010, which was arranged by the Norwegian Design Council 20 October in Oslo.

“These companies have shown that strategic design investments yield concrete results, and are living proof that the road to profitability can go through design,” explains Marte Grevsgard, Project Manager at the Norwegian Design Council.

The jury, consisting solely of representatives from the business world, assessed profitability and results in a total of 18 applications, and 12 of these were selected to receive an award.

Milk or yoghurt?
The need to distinguish flavoured milk from yoghurt served as a backdrop for a comprehensive design project and the re-launch of the Litago Drikke brand. Together with Tangram Design , TINE has turned a headache into a goldmine.

”For many years Litago has been a well-known and well-loved children’s concept embracing both milk and yoghurt products. As time passed we found ourselves at a crossroads. Litago Drikke was perceived by some as an unhealthy product, and this also had a harmful effect on Litago Yoghurt,” explains Anette Tvenge, Marketing Manager at TINE.

Inspired by Danish drinking habits
Something had to be done, and the manufacturer was faced with two choices: Either stop producing Litago Drikke and only produce yoghurt – or create a clearer distinction between the two products under the Litago brand name. They decided on the latter alternative after studying the market for flavoured milk in one of our neighbouring countries.

“We found that the average Dane drank twice the amount of flavoured milk as the average Norwegian. We saw then that the Norwegian market was far from saturated,” Annette Tvenge says.

Sales more than doubled
A new and updated design hierarchy was produced displaying the mother brand Litago at the top with the different ranges underneath. Affiliation with the Litago brand had to be made more prominent on all products, but at the same time it should not be possible to mistake which range they belonged to. The well-known Litago cow became a recurring figure, changing colour and shape depending on the taste of the milk.

In the autumn of 2008, Litago Drikke was re-launched, and the consumers’ verdict was easy to read from sales figures. In the space of a year, sales of flavoured milk rose by 115 per cent and TINE seized the opportunity to launch several new varieties. Today total sales have reached a quarter of a billion Norwegian kroner.

Millions and the environment
A new load carrying system saves Norway Post NOK 15 million, spares 15,000 employees for stress and strain and reduces harmful emissions into the environment. “It was essential for us to develop and improve the efficiency of our operations in order to survive,” explains Cathrine Laksfoss, Director of Finance and Development in the Logistics Division at Norway Post.

With this as their starting-point, they sat down with the design agency Inventas Trondheim to develop a new system for loading and handling letters and parcels. The result was a three-in-one solution. “We have reduced our annual logistics costs by NOK 15 million. At the same time we have lowered sickness absence and the number of personal injuries, and we have reduced CO2 emissions,” says Cathrine Laksfoss proudly.

Carrying air
The background for the design brief was a strategy to automate and industrialise Norway Post. The solution arrived at was inspired by the Lego principle. “The idea was to avoid reloading, repackaging and additional handling. For this reason, we developed a common, standardised system of cassettes, boxes and palettes for the carrying, sorting and storage of letters and parcels,” Cathrine Laksfoss explains.

Norway Post used to carry a lot of air owing to poor packaging. Now 70 per cent more letters and parcels can be carried per pallet and empty packaging is collapsible, making for major savings. The load carrying material has further been adapted to the people and machines handling it.

Since November 2006 the load carriers have been in use throughout the company. “They are lighter and more ergonomic than the ones we used earlier. We have received a lot of praise and very few complaints after we began using them,” says Cathrine Laksfoss.

Sales of dessert yoghurt rocketed
While it’s no rocket science, a sound bit of yoghurt research brought success for Fjordland’s Yoplait L’amour. In the space of a year Fjordland’s vanilla yoghurt range has seen sales grow from NOK 7.6 to NOK 28.5 million, corresponding to a growth in value of a massive 276 per cent. Sales of dessert yoghurt rose by 55 per cent in Norway over the last year, and Yoplait L’amour is responsible for 75 per cent of this growth.

“We have worked meticulously and have taken our customers seriously. They have made it quite clear what type of yoghurt they wanted, and we are now meeting a need in the market that had previously not been met,” explains Irene Wegner Hausken, Dairy Product Manager at Fjordland.

In collaboration with the design agency Strømme Throndsen and analysts Ipsos, Fjordland established several yoghurt consumer panels, where concepts, varieties and names were tested and either rejected or accepted.

A sinful sales success
Finally it was decided to launch a variety of blackberry yoghurt under the premium brand name L’amour, inspired by French delight, sweetness and sinfulness. In the first year alone “Yoplait L’amour vanilla with blackberries” achieved increased sales of 137 per cent compared with its predecessor. A new variety containing mango also sold well, convincing Fjordland to broaden its focus. Today the company sells four different types of yoghurt and is considering launching even more tastes in the future.