One thing is obvious from looking at innovative new product launches like National Foods’ new packaging format for its popular Yoplait brand.
Creating a winning design is one thing; being able to make it and respond to the demand created by it is another.
And it’s this capability that puts Visy Industrial Packaging (Visy), one of Australia’s leading packaging providers, ahead of the pack; so to speak.
The redesign of the stand out, new 1kg tub for Yoplait was on the cards for some time but costly barriers to entry and lower volumes typical of the Australian market meant, until now, thermoformed HIPS (high impact polystyrene) was the only locally made packaging option for Australian FMCG chilled dairy brands.
To differentiate in the dairy cabinet, explains Shane Spence - Market development Manager for Visy, National Foods needed to consider the advantages of combining the latest available injection moulding technology with the impact of in-mould labelling (IML) - a technology well established as the preferred packaging format for yoghurts in Europe.
IML decoration, injection moulding and the revamped container design, he says were significant for National Foods to meet its objective to find a distinctive new container with impressive shelf presence for their flagship 1kg Yoplait yoghurt.
“Several creative concepts were put forth before the final design was agreed with the National Foods team. But without the technical resources to take these designs to the manufacturing stage, they were little more than great concepts’, says Spence.
This is what drives Visy’s business philosophy, he explains. “Innovation comes from both leading designs and technology applications.
We are focussed on continually investing in new and improved manufacturing platforms to ensure our customers benefit from the latest technologies and processes”.
Spence says IML injection moulding is something Visy has been working on for some time.
“We were well aware of the gap in the Australian market and the benefits it would deliver to large volume FMCG companies with dairy products, like Yoplait. If you can make your product more appealing on-shelf, without doubt, it will hold consumer attention, increase product awareness and encourage repeat purchase. The shelf presence provided by IML graphics sets a new standard in image reproduction which is even more important these days considering the sameness that confronts consumers in supermarkets. Most purchasing decisions, particularly brand choice, are largely made in-store and in less than 10 seconds. Packaging that stands out on-shelf is akin to an advertising investment. Stand back and look at the Yoplait range now –you can see the hair on the raspberries and dew on the blueberries – this kind of on-pack clarity and strength in branding has never been used by large volume FMCG yoghurt brands before”.
Injection moulding also enabled the incorporation of custom grip and pouring features into the design, previously unattainable through HIPS. Corey Robertson, one of Visy’s design engineers involved in the NF project, says improvements in functionality play a huge role in influencing purchase behaviour.
“Enhanced ergonomics extends beyond making a product more user friendly - these sorts of features invite the customer to pick up the product and interact with it. And, once it’s in their hands, the likelihood they will add it to their shopping trolley, of course, increases”.
Creativity, Robertson says, is really just the first stage of product design. He acknowledges that sometimes it’s not until you push the boundaries that new capabilities are recognised but, unless the capacity exists to invest in new and appropriate manufacturing platforms, that winning design you think you’ve developed will be nothing but a pipeline dream.
This is why it’s so important that manufacturers and customers work together on new innovations, he says, “we have the technical know-how for converting opportunities into saleable commodities”. Ultimately, Spence says, it comes down to project objectives.
“If the aim is to cut costs, then sacrifices may need to be made. Introducing new technology requires a huge commitment from both the manufacturer and the customer. And there needs to be the ability to ramp up production once it takes off as well”.
He says once the initial investment is made, cost efficiencies are usually delivered either through automation or advanced capabilities.
For instance, the ability to put tamper evident tabs and the inclusion of a liquid seal fitted lid on the new Yoplait tub means the traditional foil seal on bulk yoghurt containers is no longer needed which removes a step from the filling process”.
Spence says Visy partners with a number of global leaders for the latest in research and development, technology and intellectual property.
Clearly, it’s these partnerships that allow the company to remain at the forefront of global developments to adapt these technologies for customers quickly and effectively when the opportunity arises. And that really does seem to put Visy ahead of the pack.