You gave us your questions about our search with a Fortune 250 company looking for flexible packaging solutions, and now we have your answers. Take a moment to read the Q&A below, then be sure to submit your ideas to the search before it closes on Monday, April 22 at 11:59pm PST.
Q. What problem are you trying to solve?
A. With a move from rigid containers to flexibles, we aim to offer increased value in the following ways:
- Materials & sustainability: less material requirements, offering a sustainable solution with more responsible packaging, less solid waste
- Ease of use: looking for more value and innovation solutions which help with handling of containers- whether small flexibles or bulk packaging
- Storage & logistics: improved transport costs with flexibles, better storage and stacking capabilities
Q. Who is the user?
A. We don’t have a particular product in mind at the present for this packaging solution. Instead, we are broadly looking at markets where we can offer novel solutions. That said, the user could be at the consumer level for household products, or at the B2B level. It depends on the solution and the customer we target. Our business focuses on consumer level solutions as well as industrial solutions.
Q. Who is the target customer?
A. The user could be at the consumer level for household products, or at the B2B level.? It depends on the solution and the customer we target.? Our business focuses on industrial solutions and B2B, but works with many companies that sell direct to consumer.? For example, this solution might be sold to a contract packager for shampoo, or to the manufacturer of that shampoo.? It may be a bulk solution for salon use, or it may be individual use at the consumer level.
Q. What type of competitive edge are you looking for?
A. There could be a variety of competitive advantages depending on the solution:
- Flexible packaging solutions that use even less materials ? reclose features which are novel and not just a rigid fitment.
- Flexible solutions which are eye appealing and easy to use at the consumer level.
- Flexible solutions which allow for full evacuation of product
- Flexible solutions which are end to end ? from machine and filling to package
Q. Can you define what you consider to be flexible packaging and what you don?t?
A. Flexible means non-rigid, not thermo-formed or molded.?Film solutions.
Q. If the packaging is premium in functionality and therefore in cost, does it still have a chance? At what point is functionality too expensive/cost prohibitive?
A. It is hard to say where the ?tipping point? is.? If it?s truly novel, more functional, and has great customer appeal, a higher price point may be acceptable.? Given the broad range of solutions to this challenge, it is not possible to say at an early stage what would be cost prohibitive.? We try to think about it in the eyes of a consumer and benchmark what solutions are out there on the shelf.? Are they selling well and what are people paying for those?? There isn?t one answer, it all depends on what is being packaged and the appeal to customer.
Q. Can you provide more specifics on the limitations/problems you (or your consumers) are currently facing when it comes to flexible packaging?
A. Many of our customers are reluctant to move to flexibles from rigids because they don?t want to sacrifice functionality or convenience.? For example, if you consider rigid bottles of shampoo, there is little appetite to move to flexibles because of the need for product integrity (preventing contaminants from entering package), a need to stand up in the shower, and a need for ease of use when consumer is evacuating the product.
Q. Is there a particular material being focused on – be it plastic or cardboard – or all flexible packaging?
A. For this challenge, we are interested in polymer solutions ? plastics.
Q. To what degree are you examining the production and distribution process from factory to storage, shipping and store shelf?
A. We will be studying this very carefully as we consider ANY flexible solution.
Q. The description states: “For a plastic bottle, for example, this would include stacking ability, open/close features, handling and dosing.” Is a plastic bottle considered flexible packaging? I would think it is fairly rigid.
A. A plastic bottle is a rigid ? we want to move away from this. Today, a plastic bottle is easier to stack, open & close, and dose.? How can we provide the same or better functionality in a flexible?
Q. Can the flexible material also incorporate some non-flexible material as well? For example, a combination of foil for the package itself and say, metal or aluminum for a lid?
A. Yes, it could include some non-flexibles, but the ultimate call would be all flexibles. It will depend on the added cost to the package, as well as how differentiation can be maintained.
Q. Is laundry detergent potentially a product that would be in this category?
Q. What are some specific categories that the packaging should be appropriate for (e.g., solid/liquid foods, cleaning products, dry goods, etc.)?
A. All of the above ? cleaning products, personal care products, dry goods, solid/liquid foods, chemicals
Q. Are you looking for reusable packaging or single use?
Q. What kind of shelf life are you hoping for (durable or protective)?
A. It depends on what is being packaged as to the shelf life requirements.
Q. Are there any weight or cost restrictions?
A. Not at this moment
Q. Do you know the expected volume?
A. Not presently
Q. Using the bottle in the description as an example, where are you hoping to improve stackability? On the shelf? In the refrigerator? During transportation? Which is most important?
A. If the solution is for bulk packaging, the requirements for stack-ability will be different than solutions for individual consumer packaging.? At this moment, we?re interested in both types of solutions. At the present time, we do not have a single product in mind for a flexible solution.? Instead, we are interested in different ways of approaching flexible packaging and to determine if there are everyday inventors who have thought of this in a different, creative way than we have.? We service a lot of industries and a variety of food/beverage, cleaning, and consumer good products.? We are open to a variety of solutions at the moment.
Q. Are you looking for innovations in just the packaging or also the packaging process?
A. We love end-to-end solutions, including those with equipment plays.