To much fanfare, Campbell Soup Co. launched its new line of Go Soups in the fall of 2012 in microwavable retort pouches, specifically designed to appeal to young adults. Project lead Mary Gregg, director, packaging for Campbell North America, global research and development, explains the rationale behind this bold but necessary move.
Q: Campbell Soup sells its soups in several different packaging formats—cans, microwavable bowls, aseptic cartons—but this is the first stand-up microwavable pouch. Why introduce this type of package now?
A: In Campbell's packaging organization, we are focused on leveraging packaging innovation in combination with product innovation. Our goal: To solve consumer needs that could not be achieved with product innovation alone.
When we create a new package, we seek to create what we believe is the right package for the product—a great, new and delicious product, combined with a great package that makes for the ultimate consumer appeal.
Campbell Soup is thinking outside the can to help find ways that we can appeal to a whole new consumer. Our Go Soups have flavors that appeal to Millennials (people in their 20s). We put the new soups in pouches because they are relevant to the Millennial generation. Many of their favorite foods and other products are sold in pouches. The pouch is contemporary and easy to use, and its edgy graphics help to create a new frame of reference for Campbell's soups.
The Go Soups are packaged in a polymer-based, retortable stand-up pouch that enables the consumer to microwave heat directly in the pouch and then pour into bowls to enjoy.
Q: How is this package format reflective of the company's innovation strategy?
A: Members of our packaging organization work directly as part of cross-functional Innovation teams focused on holistically on developing new products and packaging simultaneously. As part of the Innovation team, our packaging engineers and designers are exposed to a wealth of consumer insights. They also had the opportunity to visit Millennials from all over the country to learn first-hand about what they want in their foods and their packaging.
As noted earlier, the pouches are the right package for the Millennial generation and the desired usage occasion.
Q: How does this new format change the company's packaging production operations?
A: To launch soup in pouches, we took a collaborative approach with suppliers to effectively drive for new and better consumer solutions, which in turn have enabled faster speed to market.
For our Go Soups, we worked with C&K Propack (www.ckpropack.en.ec21.com), who had package structures that we could fast-adapt for our application. This approach in packaging development and manufacturing has enabled us to execute quickly.
Q: What capital equipment investments did the company makein order to produce this new product?
A: We expanded our prototyping capability. For example, we bought 3-D printing, 3-D scanning and 3-D sketching equipment and software. This helped us to focus on what we call "building to learn" in addition to "building to confirm," which was our more traditional approach.
We build to learn by using prototyping to help facilitate concept creation. This has been enabled by the rapid advancement of computing technology over the past several years—becoming more affordable and user friendly.