Successful Product Launches – Shorter Launch Rate and Higher Success Rate by Leveraging Current Market Trends, Collaboration and Design Services

Salvatore Pellingra

Vice President, Global Application and Innovation at ProAmpac

Learning Objectives

An engaging overview of how to improve the speed of getting new products to market from a packaging perspective. A review of how new products and packaging should be designed for ease of manufacturing, sustainability, functionality and distribution especially addressing the growth of e-commerce. Collaboration and design to meet both product and marketing goals as well as ensuring design addresses manufacturing and fulfilment as well as consumer and user requirements.

Key Takeaways:

  • New products are more successful when designed for and addressing more than one key market and industry trend

  • Sustainability must be built in to all new product and packaging developments

  • Collaboration with all involved partners is key from the start; manufacturing, packaging, co-suppliers, OEMs, product design, marketing and procurement to name several

"Speed does not equal shortcuts."

Salvatore Pellingra

Vice President, Global Application and Innovation at ProAmpac


Hi, this is Sal Pellingra, VP of Global Application and Innovation Development for ProAmpac. Today, I’ll be talking about successful product launches, and ways that we can shorten that launch and have higher success rate.

First, we’ll dig into innovation and product launch. If we look at innovation, it’s something fresh, that’s something new, original, maybe something improved, that creates value. For product launches, we need to ensure that we’re creating that value, and we need to use processes that bring that value forward. A lot of times, we talked about bringing that value forward, meaning speed to market, so getting products to market faster. The importance of planning and speed to market, it’s really bringing revenue forward, it’s not tying up resources. The key to that is speed does not equal shortcuts. This is fairly humorous. When you think about the road to success, there are no shortcuts. This fellow probably should have taken a different route. That’s what we want to avoid. We want to make sure that we’re using processes that we avoid pitfalls, and that we avoid mistakes.

Sometimes, even if there are mistakes, fail fast forward, as a term that’s often. We want to fail, and we want to get up and move forward quickly, but we don’t want disasters along the way. The key is having a structured development, and go to market process. The biggest part of that is we often want to control things and do things all on our own, but it’s really important to have development partners, right from the start of the project. Collaborating with those partners, and what you find when you’re doing that is you’re bringing all these partners together. Through them, you’re finding ways to success, and in that, you’re shortening the time. You’re not moving forward with one supplier, and then, you’re moving ahead, and then you’re tagging a second supplier, and then maybe the part that second supplier, or that role that he’s participating in interferes with the role that the first one was. If they had known ahead of time, they could have made some changes along the way to reduce them, no mistakes and speed that forward.

That collaboration and just having everyone’s eyes on the prize, pretty much right from the start, is so key. I really like this, that’d be P minimal viable product and the soup for the startup soul is really a nice way of showing it. You have your current state, the current state is we need some improvement. We need some change, we need new product, or we need to change a product. Then, the next step is, what’s the earliest we can get a product there, what’s the earliest we can test products, what’s the earliest we can get something that’s usable, that’s like a poll? Other than that, consumers or users can see and then lovable, the user likes it so much that they begin promoting it.

We’ll talk a little bit about social media that’s out there today. That can be positive or negative depending on the situation. If we look at these steps of MVP, and sort of a more traditional process, we’ve got ideation as the current stage, where you’re brainstorming on on what we can do next, then it’s illustrations and renderings. That’s where you get the earliest showable, then prototypes of the earliest testable trials or the earliest usable one. Then, we have store consumer validation, that’s the earliest likable ones, and then commercial validation. We’ll talk about each one of these.

When you look at the current state, what we want to do is we want to look at how we can develop these new products for launch. We’re going to take the strategic goals that the customers has: the needs, the wants, what they have to do, target market timing.

The target market could be adults, it could be children, it could be teenagers, it could be all three of the above. Maybe you need different solutions for each one, and maybe all those solutions won’t be the first one that goes to market. Through the ideation process, we’re going to look at going really far out and then coming sort of back in. The minimum viable product is typically one that will be able to be commercialized in the short term.

From this ideation, we typically will come up with ideas and concepts that are near term focused, medium term, and long term. The difference is the near term ones, we’ve got materials, we’ve got equipment to make those into the product or package, and we’ve got filling equipment and infrastructure that we can package these. Medium term, maybe we need some new material, some modifications to material or a new process. Maybe we need some modifications to the manufacturing or filling equipment. We can’t run it as is. We’re gonna have to modify something, and we’ll need to test that out. That ties it to more 12 to 18 months. Long term, it’s new material, new manufacturing or filling equipment. We know that that’s going to be way out there, because we’re gonna have to buy new equipment. There’s lead times, we’re gonna have to go throughout the 80s, we’re gonna have to test new materials, and so, that’s really the longer term.

If we look at this first step in illustrations and renderings, that’s the earliest showable. Illustrations, you can review a wide variety of different concepts and products, and show them in packaged form and product form, how they’re being used, how they’re retail. That’s a good way to really take that larger group of products, and move it to a narrower selection of products to move forward with.

Then, the next step are renderings. Those are almost photorealistic drawings, a lot of times those are 3D. We’ve introduced what we call maker, the link is in the bottom left hand corner of this slide. You can log on and you can choose just about any flexible package or bag or pouch that we produce. You can create your own bag size, you can put features on it that are available for that format, and you can put artwork on it, you can spin it around look at it. That’s what we want for renderings, we want to really take a deeper look at it in more of a photo realistic fashion.

Then, the next type spot is prototyping. Here’s where we want to actually feel, look at samples, make sure there’s no big oopss along the ways you’re getting those as you’re fitting product in those making sure that they’re set up for retail correctly. Our labs can produce any type of flexible package. We work with folks that can do 3D for fitments, but it’s really key now as you’re moving forward that you start to look at these packages in real life, and what you want to do is start avoiding mistakes at this point.

Don’t even say anything. That looks like soda, or some kind of fancy drink, right? It’s a floor cleaner—literally a floor cleaner. How do you put them in a grocery store like that? I keep getting it along the way, like it looks pretty. It looks like a lemonade and orange juice in the same color, but little do they know its floor cleaner. [Unintelligible] confuse people in a world like this?

Remember, social media can be our friend and it can be not so much our friend. Here’s a case where we really want to make sure what those prototypes. When you get to this prototype stage before initial trials, this is where you really want to review with key stakeholders as well. Make sure that you’re on the right path that you’re not going to move forward with something that could cause issues as with this floor cleaner that looked like a fruity drink.

The next step is trials and testing. Now that you’ve gone through, you’re down to one or two maybe formats or products, now you want to make sure that these can be produced in manufacturing, that they can be packaged okay, that you start testing these packages for product stability and shelf life. Do they meet the requirements that are needed? Same with distribution, looking at both retail and e-commerce. E-commerce is growing. For retail, the packages are really bundled in secondary packaging that protects them through distribution, but in e-commerce, these products can be shipped with products that that you weren’t even intending to be shipped with. Extra distribution testing is key. Trial and technical support along the way is so important. Rather than just having a trial and not getting the feedback on that, having someone there who can follow that all the way through, and make sure that it’s running correctly or make adjustments or get key feedback, so you can regroup for a second trial, if needed.

Product stability and shelf life, it’s key, even understanding where your product is going. We had a project that was all the development and startup was done in Eastern United States kind of from September through December, more or less. As that scaled up, and we went through scale up runs, we didn’t know as a supplier that production was moving to Mexico, and it moved in the first quarter of the next year. That summer, the they started scaling up to larger runs that were kept in containers outside the temperature in those containers was over 120 degrees F, and shrink film shrinks when it gets more, snd so that’s what was happening to this. IUnderstanding where that and uses and testing, whether it’s hot and dry, hot and humid, or cold, frozen distribution as well.

Consumer and product use is so key. Understanding how these are going to be used, how they’re going to be stored. In hotels, they’ve come out with the refill containers in the shower. One particular whole hotel chain came out with a really nice setup for three pumpable rigid containers that are refillable. They work great for the consumer. They were great through shipping. They look great. They fit in the shower. The biggest issue is when the hotel employees go to refill those, they’re carrying gallon containers and the opening those containers in the shower is very small. The opening in that gallon container is very large, and it spills all over the place. They’re actually putting these things into ketchup containers and squeezing them in there. Taking into consideration the entire use of that product or package is so key so that these steps aren’t missed along the way.

Then, of course, this collaboration. Having your suppliers there on the trials with you to get the feedback, so that if there is an issue, it’s resolved quickly. Maybe there’s more eyes on the prize, so that if there’s any issues along the way, someone else is catching it, even if you’re not catching it. Having all of those partners there really moves you from more of a transactional relationship with your supplier and co-supplier and [unintelligible] are to really more relational and more collaborative. It’s so key to be collaborative all the way along, to move those products from ideation, and getting them to a successful launch without mistakes.

This commercial validation is the last step in commercial validation. What we want to do is we want to scale up in a very controlled manner. Maybe you’re doing a regional launch, or maybe it’s a one or two skews instead of all of the skews. Maybe it’s one shift or at the end up at a filler or packager to start, and then you move to two, three shifts, and then you move to a week’s production. There should be some sort of scaling mechanism, so that if there are any hoops along the way, you’re able to find those and putting less product at risk into the market. The whole purpose of this is, how do we shrink that whole time to market? How do we shorten that time, so that we’re getting to that value sooner.

One of the other things is utilizing that process, but then we also want to utilize trends that are out there. The trends that are out there today, we’ve got the pandemic so safety and security, we’ve got e-commerce, which is growing at double digits. The pandemic helped push that even more, but it was already growing at high rates prior to that, and now it’s moving even faster. End of life solutions, we really need to look at our products and our packaging. Anything new and say, how can we produce this in a way that ‘s better design for the environment, better design for the circular economy, and not contributing to landfill use or trash or waste.

Then, functionality in graphic design. You want to catch consumers’ attention on the shelf, or even on a smart device. It’s been proven that sales increase if a consumer catches the attention of that product, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s in person or a smart device. Functionality, once that consumer has it, they want to be able to use it correctly. Even if they get a really nice looking back at home, but they can’t open it, that doesn’t dispense well, doesn’t store creates frustration. That’s a killer for the product.

The happy place is really where you’re overlapping some of these. Your new designs are e-commerce friendly, they’re sustainable, but they also have functionality and graphics, and they’re also safe for the consumer. Don’t just design for sustainability. Don’t just design for functionality. Don’t just design for e-commerce. Take all of these into consideration and design for more than one, and that’s where the value is, and that’s where most successes are going to come.

We’ll wrap this up sort of with a case study. L’Oreal Fit Me, one of the best-selling makeups or foundations in North America, according to social media. The current package is glass. It’s not ideally suited for e-commerce or portability. The objective is how can we redesign this for e-commerce, for portability? How can we improve the dispensing? How do we make sure that we have shelf life and shelf stability? There’s going to be a lot of SKUs on this. There’s a lot of tones of consumers out there that they need to design this for. It’s a small quantity launch, which makes it really difficult.

The challenges to overcome here are that large number of SKUs and quantities that are really below traditional flexo printing and laminating minimum order quantities. How do we bridge that gap? How do we find a solution to that? There’s no filling for premium pouches that small, and it’s really custom filling for form fill seal [inaudible] that small. If it go that the flexible packaging, it would require custom dispensing orifice. The color match requirements are key, and there was a really aggressive timeline to launch.

We looked in through illustrations first, then moving to prototyping. We identified what we thought was a potential package. We went through a few because we had to go through different co-manufacturers for filling. When we looked at the number of SKUs, it wasn’t a fit for flexo, so digital printing was an option. We had to qualify a new digital printer partner to join in on this, but we had to make sure that the shelf life was still met, and these barrier laminates could not only hold the product for the shelf life that was needed, but had really good clarity as well. A spout had to be modified for correct dispensing. A co-packer that we found, a new co-packer that could do this, the opening on the spot was too large, and so we needed a custom spout done that would still run on the machine without modifications. There just wasn’t time in this launch to do anything to make modifications to machines. The art was also modified so that there were minimal changes even on the digital printing press. Then, we took that digital print, made it in the long run so that we can laminate it, and then pouch it. This included all new co-supplier partners. They got on weekly calls. We had a co-manufacturer, digital printer, an injection molder, the flexible packaging supplier, all of us with the brand, working out next steps trials, how we are going to qualify all the way through so that’s where that collaboration was really key.

The results we ended up with improved control dispensing with a new spout. We reduced the packaging so we hit that sustainability by more than 90%. We ship more product with less packaging. There’s even more product in that flexible pouch than in the original glass container. There was less protective packaging for e-commerce. When you’re thinking about e commerce, if there’s something breakable and needs to have protective packaging around it, needs some void fill, and then it needs to be in that shipping container. The flexible pouch could go in an envelope, in a soft container, it didn’t really need void fill around it, so that was key.

We met the tight commercialization timeline for that product, even with all of these challenges along the way. The only way we did it is by having everyone involved in collaborating right from the start. This package won four industry packaging awards, and it was named one of the Top 20 Packaging Innovations of 2020 by Packaging Strategies.

A really exciting and a really good example of using a process, qualifying materials, qualifying suppliers, qualifying print, qualifying co-manufacturing and filling, developing new parts of this, but everybody working in concert to get this to successful commercialization. L’Oreal really had a vision, and that vision made it really because they involve everyone along the way, and it’s a great example of success.

Testimonial: “I love the packaging. It’s so convenient. [Inaudible] look, it’s there. You can throw this in your purse. I think it’s true, you will get every single dot of foundation out of this, instead of banging your hand up against the glass. Yeah, this, overall, worked well. I really, really like Maybelline. I think they’re super affordable, and they make such great product. I’m really happy that they’re first in other types who make a foundation sort of post like this.”

It’s great to get positive reinforcement from from key users. One of the other parts of sustainability that people don’t often notice is that product waste, or especially food waste, is a is a big part of functionality that our sustainability that people just don’t get or don’t pay attention to. If you’re wasting product, especially food or some other expensive product that has to be remanufactured, regrown, reprocessed, repackaged. Getting all of that product out of the package is really key.

When we look at this new product through the lens of the trends that are out there, if we look in terms of the circular economy of sustainability, we use 90% less packaging material, we shipped more product. 1.3 ounces in the flexible pouch versus one out in the glass, so we’re shipping more product. For secondary packaging, this doesn’t need protective packaging that doesn’t break. It can be dropped, so it’s less material. You’re getting all the product out of the packaging as well. It really ticked all the boxes there. E-commerce, it was designed specifically for e commerce, ships well, takes up very little space. It’s as portable to carry around in your purse as it is to ship around e-commerce. It was key there, and then functionality in graphic design. Functionality, the new orifice can dispense drops, so it’s really controlled, and you get every single bit out of the package. Very functional. In terms of graphic design, it looks and appears just like the branded family in the glass container. Very recognizable, as far as the brand goes. We look at it. It’s a very happy place, because it’s combining a lot of the boxes here. It was designed to overlap some of these trends, which generally gives it the highest rate of success.

Wrapping it up, we need to utilize a process that doesn’t miss critical steps. We need to collaborate and really lean on the expertise of your supplier partners. The collaboration is there to make sure we’re not missing anything along the way and more shortening that time by minimizing mistakes along the way. Involve those partners early and continuously. Trial validation is key along the way. There should be milestones along the way where we’re ticking the box before we get to the next step, and not producing too much before we’re able to validate that it works as it’s supposed to. Keeping in step with market trends and design, so sustainability has to be forefront. E-commerce is not going to go away, it’s only going to grow, so products and packaging need to be designed for e-commerce as well. The design and functionality are key as well. Consumers are going to be using that package and functionality is key.

Choose partners that are easy to work with and have resources that complement your own. If you’ve got a packaging lab and your suppliers have the same packaging lab, you’re not going to add any. But if your supplier has prototyping capabilities that are a little bit better than yours, if they have filling machines, if there’s ways to evaluate product in a shorter amount of time, that’s key. We introduced our maker for this so you can design pouches and packaging online as well. Recognize social media as their support, you’re doing the good, and so if you haven’t, oops, someone’s gonna find it and put that news out there. But if you put something good out there, you’re going to get promoted, not just through your own promotions, but through social media that’s out there. It’s key, what we want to do is we want to avoid-

Here we got a basket of nice juicy lemon or orange juice. Sorry. Orange juice. You heard the sigh. Okay. Lemon squeezed orange juice. If not, I’m assuming.

We want to avoid bad social media. We want to make sure that we’re getting that we’re validating these along the way, that we’re creating great products before the market, and shortening that time to launch so that we’re bringing value forward.

Thanks so much. If you have any questions or comments, make sure you post those in there and we’ll get back to you. Thanks for hanging in there with me, and enjoy the rest of the conference. Have a great day. Thanks. Bye.

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