Sparked by a Shark Tank episode and the latest variation on a packaging concept for single-serve wine, Couple interlocks two wine glasses using an integrated stem for efficient stacking and shrink wrapping.
While building a better mousetrap is a clichéd goal for inventors in general, for those in packaging that goal may be a prepackaged, single-serve wine glass. We’ve seen a number of inventive plays off the concept over the years (you can see several of those here), and this latest one fits the mold with at least one major point of difference over those others: It is distinguished by an integrated, unitizing stem that adds a familiar note of elegance.
This latest variation on the prepackaged wine theme was designed with efficiency, optimization and practicality in mind. You could call it a completely new kind of wine pairing.
The idea is that of Gus Toca, president/CEO of 201 Innovations, a small company that develops innovative consumer products. “We have recently developed a new packaging solution for the single-serve wine market, it's called Couple and it's a full stem interlocking and stackable wine glass,” he says.
“The foot of the glass serves as a lid to protect the foil seal and also serves as a coaster.”
Toca believes that the design is a great fit for two main markets: Single-serve and stemware. The initial cost per unit with the current design is projected to be 31-36 cents (USD), according to Toca.
He says that PET is the obvious polymer of choice, but for stemware applications he is looking at copolyesters and even hybrid compositions such as a glass bowl bonded with a copolyester stem and foot.
Next: Toca talks about the design, the options and the status.
A shrink-film stack of four stemmed and interlocked glasses occupies the same volume as a 750-mL wine bottle.
What prompted this design?
Toca: While working on another invention a short few months back, I came across a rerun of an episode of a popular investing reality show, Shark Tank. One of the products presented was a single-serve wine glass that caught the attention of the investors because it was a very innovative stemmed design in a market—the single-serve wine market—where the stem glass seemed to be the exception to the rule.
As I watched this I was thinking to myself: “This is a great design, but what about shipping and shelf space?” and that’s when the idea hit me. I started designing a glass that would have the precious full stem that has been a staple of the wine industry, but also would have the same space saving characteristics of stackable cups.
What are the benefits of your design vs. alternatives?
Toca: If you look at the current available packaging options in the single serve wine market today you sort of have two sides of the spectrum: you have the stemmed products (i.e. Zipz) that are not space efficient, and on the other side you have the cup-style products (i.e. Stacked) with very efficient use of space, but lacking the benefits of a stem. Couple is the least compromising alternative that would stand in the middle of the spectrum.
What sizes and options are there?
Toca: The Xtem design is highly flexible. For single serve, the size and shape limitations are mostly determined by the 187ml standard of the industry as well as the shipping and shelf space required by the customer. We have concentrated on a form factor that takes the same space of a standard bottle of wine when four units are stacked together.
Ideally, Couple is shrink wrapped in pairs, but it can be presented in any number of units including one (Couple Singles). For stemware, there are practically no restrictions on size and shape, so you can cover the entire wine glass shape range from Burgundy to flutes.
What was the biggest challenge related to packaging design and development?
Toca: I’m an electronics engineer, so the biggest challenge has been the steep learning curve about the best current available technologies in molding, materials and product conservation and adapting the design so that it can better integrate them. I think we have achieved a great result: a product that can be made at a relatively low cost, have a long shelf life and still have great appeal and functionality.
What’s the status?
Toca: We completed the first FDM (Fused-deposition modeling) prototypes and are currently developing the latest iteration with SLA (stereolithography). The interest so far has been phenomenal. We’ve just launched the website (coupleglass.com) and it’s already having great traffic with many inquiries on the product.
What have you learned about the packaging business from this development?
Toca: One thing that seems to hold true in packaging is the importance of functionality in the consumer’s perception of your product. If you show your product in interesting and engaging packaging you’ll have their attention, if you complete that with a functional solution to their needs then you’ll have a sell.
For more information, visit www.coupleglass.com