New doors are opening for Gold Eagle Co. with the introduction of its premium line of vehicle sealers in sleek, vibrant new bottles. Gold Eagle has taken advantage of the chemical resistance and design flexibility of Barex barrier resin from BP Amoco to create colorful, intricate bottles that stand up to the oil-based new product inside.

According to the Car Care council, more than 50 million gallons of vehicle fluids leak into the US environment each year--yet less than 10 percent of U.S. car owners use sealers to stop leaks. Gold Eagle's new No-Leak brand of sealers is aimed at the country's aging stock of automobiles, where the company sees an opportunity to grow this traditionally small, flat product category by catching the eye of consumers.

Apparently, the strategy is right on target. "Almost every retailer we've presented the No-Leak line to has ordered it. That includes several we've never been able to sell to before," says Marc Blackman, Gold Eagle's vice president of sales and marketing.

Creating Consumer Awareness

A limited number of consumers are aware of sealers as a way to stop a car from leaking fluid. Gold Eagle's products, free of harmful aromatics, safely stop leaks and can eliminate the need for costly repairs. To help consumers learn about the benefits of its guaranteed-safe, premium sealers, the company worked with Chicago design firm Source Inc. to create a package with a strong point-of-sale presence.

The high gloss and colorability of Barex resins played a key role in creating an eye-catching package. "Many of BP Amoco's customers are delighted with the crystal clarity of a bottle made with Barex resins. Yet the resins also do a superb job of creating gloss and holding color--intense, appealing color. Gold Eagle really leveraged those strengths," explains Carmen Melillo, BP Amoco's Director of Sales and Marketing for Barex resins.

The No-Leak line of four sealers--engine, transmission, power steering and cooling system--comes with color-coded bottles and labels to help the consumer identify the source of the leak and choose the right product. Other than color differences, the Barex bottles all have the same overall look and easy-grip, easy-pour shape. "We want to help retailers increase awareness of sealers by stocking the four No-Leak products together," explains Blackman. "Tucked away among other engine products or cooling system products, a sealer doesn't make much of a statement. As a group, our brightly colored, glossy bottles certainly do."

Containing the Product

To create the premium No-Leak line, Gold Eagle created a formulation with a high concentration of proprietary ingredients. "We faced a hurdle in finding a plastic resin to meet marketing's design criteria and to contain our high-strength product," says Michael Profetto, Gold Eagle's technical director. Tests with other resins failed. In one test, the product bled through the bottle and attacked the label's adhesive. In another, the bottle itself was destroyed. Barex resin passed the company's rigid compatibility tests, easily containing the product through 90 days at 130(degree)F.

Although Barex resins can be processed on the same equipment used to fabricate most other plastics, for Gold Eagle manufacturing this bottle was inconsistent with the rest of its HDPE blow molding operation. The company turned to BP Amoco for help in finding an outside converter with experience using its Barex resins. "We had a very tight deadline for producing the bottles and wanted to be sure we found a company with the technology, experience, quality and commitment to our timetable," explains Jim Licquia, purchasing agent for Gold Eagle. They chose Silgan Plastics in Port Clinton, Ohio.

The bottle design poses fabricating challenges, with its large off-set neck and sharp angles. But Silgan was able to pull it off in tests, using the same equipment they use to run PVC. "The formability of Barex resins makes it possible to create bottles with unusual, finely detailed designs. At the same time, it's possible to have thinner walls because of the stiffness and high density of Barex resins," says Melillo.

Pleasing Buyers and Consumers

Gold Eagle first came up with the idea for a premium line of sealers in May of 1999. Recognizing the opportunity, the company followed a compressed timeline to formulate, package, and deliver the product to market as quickly as possible. Gold Eagle began shipping its No-Leak line 10 months later, by the third week in January 2000.

Although the product has only been on the shelves for a few months, the immediate acceptance among buyers and the start of reorders suggest that Gold Eagle is clearly on the right track. The company's not surprised, given the reaction from consumers during market research. "When asked if they'd buy the product, and pay a premium price for it, 86 percent of sealer users said they would. That's one of the highest scores I've ever seen in terms of consumer acceptance," says Blackman.

The company acknowledges that the package design produced a higher cost package than for its other automotive fluids. Yet the premium nature of the product allows retailers to charge a premium price, garnering two to three times the margin they do for lower cost, possibly lower performance products. As Blackman points out, "When you're hoping to save hundreds or thousands of dollars in car repairs, paying a few extra dollars for a superior product with a satisfaction guarantee is a fantastic deal."