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Failure to Launch


With the failure rate of new product introductions averaging 95%, one consumer packaging expert sheds light on how to be among the triumphant 5%.

Only 5% of new products launched in the US marketplace each year lasts long enough to be considered a success, explained Neil Kozarsky, CEO of Marlton-NJ based T.H.E.M. (Technical Help in Engineering and Marketing), at the 2009 Global Pouch Forum in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. Kozarsky, however, did offer a dose of optimism and sound advice to the record number of consumer packaged goods professionals in attendance.

While Kozarsky’s presentation, “Chaotic, Disruptive, Highly Marketable: Global Game-Changing Pouch & Component Innovations,” provided a comprehensive and global perspective on current flexible packaging trends, his message to marketers from around the world came down to one fundamental piece of advice:

“Consumer product success comes from enabling the package to play a highly functional role in the fulfillment of a prevailing consumer trend, while at the same time meeting existing consumer expectations.”

One such emerging trend featured in his remarks was “ECO-nomic Packaging,” packaging that represents both an environmentally responsible and cost-conscious solution.

Packaging that simply aligns with a prevailing consumer trend is not enough to be among the successful minority, advised Kozarsky. It must also meet basic consumer expectations of convenience, functionality and safety. “Trends aside, consumers have come to expect more from their packaging, and they will only continue to raise the bar of expectation. Name brands in turn, must continue to deliver, lest they be replaced by smaller brands that are more opportunistic, and adaptive to new packaging solutions.”

In order to bring forward packaging solutions that align with consumer trends and expectations, one does not necessarily need to ‘build a better mousetrap,’ or pour tremendous resources into new package development, Kozarsky explained. There is a faster, more efficient, and far more cost-effective way to be among the successful minority of packaging launches. It involves being an effective ‘global scout’ and identifying how similar consumer groups, impacted by same or similar trends, are using and experiencing packaging.

In the case of “ECO-nomic Packaging,” and a glimpse of packaging innovations that may soon be making their way to US retail shelves, one simply needs to look to Japan. “Japan has been, and will continue to be, our most prolific source of applicable innovations when it comes to packaging,” said Kozarsky. “The density of their population, along with other cultural drivers now common to the American consumer, has long necessitated the continued reinvention of consumer goods packaging in Japan.”

The most dramatic example of a packaging solution developed in Japan that has met the criteria for success in North America is the stick pack. The single-serve stick pack is, in fact, the most successful transfer of Japanese packaging technology onto America’s retail shelves, and Kozarsky’s company, T.H.E.M., played a key role in making the stick-pack a commercial success in North America. The stick pack delivered a convenient single-serve option for an increasingly ‘on-the-go’ U.S. consumer, and one that had fully embraced another mega-trend: bottled water.

Kozarsky highlighted over a dozen other promising packaging formats coming out of Japan in his presentation. A few noteworthy innovations included: edge-stand pouch packaging, the cartridge pack, and GMP (pouches suitable for grilling in the microwave oven). Even of these are cost-savers, each are environmentally friendly – again, meeting Kozarsky’s “ ECO-nomic” criteria — and each offer marketers the opportunity to dress their products for success with the latest in film-based, high-impact graphics.

Edge-Stand Pouch Packaging
Edge-stand pouches, which can be produced using existing equipment with minor modification, offer easy opening and easy dispensing features. These novel flat-bottom pouches have a unique skirted appearance, while being just as footprint efficient as a paperboard box.

Cartridge Pack
Cartridge pack refilling technology offers marketers “razorblade-like” aftermarket sales potential, and the opportunity to “wow” consumers. Cartridge packs are not only eco-friendly, but also minimize the mess and stress usually associated with the process of replenishing applicators with liquids or creams. The consumer inverts and inserts a specially shaped refill pouch into the previously purchased applicator. A quick push down, and the applicatory spout punctures the film pouch.

Grilled Microwave Pouch
GMP utilizes leading-edge succeptor technologies and proprietary processes to transform microwave cooking into a char-grilling taste and visual experience for consumers and institutional users. As convenient as microwave cooking is, it has not historically crossed the appetite-appeal line akin to barbequed or grilled methodologies. While emerging commercial applications in Japan are focused on chicken and fish, GMP is expected to be a player in beef and pork applications in the future.

How well accepted will these new packaging options be? According to Kozarsky, all it will take is the initial success of one or two companies to overcome the status quo and garner a bit of retail support. A second wave of marketers hungry for differentiation, and afraid to be left behind, will soon follow.

As far as individual product success goes, Kozarsky’s message is clear. You don’t have to be the innovator. You don’t have to spend millions on packaging R&D to enable your product to beat the odds and be among the 5% to survive launch and entry into today’s competitive consumer marketplace. You simply need to be a good scout. You have to pay close attention to macro trends in the US that have already taken hold in other markets, and see who has met needs similar to those of your target market, with proven technology that is easily transferred into your operation.

“Packaging is your strategic weapon,” concluded Kozarsky. “It is often the key differentiator in a field of parity products, and many times is the most important factor for a product’s acceptance and success.”

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About Neil Kozarsky
Neil Kozarsky is a recognized expert in Japanese packaging technology. Established in 1973, T.H.E.M. has served as a source of packaging innovation and total system solutions to the world’s leading food, beverage and personal care product companies and brands. Beginning in the early-1990, the company has served as North America’s overseas packaging connection, bringing in innovative packaging solutions from Japan and around the world. T.H.E.M. monitors global packaging trends, identifies proven technologies, and then refines them to meet the demands of US consumers and domestic manufacturing requirements. Kozarsky himself has led a number of successful technology transfers, bringing Japanese machinery and technical innovations into the North American marketplace on a consistent basis over the last several decades. He is also the author of numerous articles for leading packaging publications, and is a featured presenter at conferences around the world.

About T.H.E.M.
Founded in 1973, Marlton, NJ-based T.H.E.M. has served as the gateway for North American companies to find innovative packaging solutions. By monitoring packaging trends globally, T.H.E.M identifies innovations from all over the world for application in a diverse range of industrial and consumer product companies in North America. For more information, please visit:

About the 2009 Global Pouch Forum
Now in its 12th year, the 2009 Global Pouch Forum by Packaging Strategies, June 9-11 in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, offered voices of optimism amid difficult economic times. With penetration rates for pouches and other flexible formats continuing to rise, the event focused on the numerous applications, innovations, and technologies that are helping pouches fulfill their vast potential in packaging. The event was one of the largest for the Forum in recent years and was attended by more than 200 consumer packaged goods companies and suppliers.


 Global Pouch Forum
 Neil Kozarsky

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