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Innovation Starts With The Customer

HEBRON, KY, February 11, 2015

Innovation has to consider the customer and the consumer first if it is to be relevant and successful.  In their book, Playing to Win, A.G Lafley and Roger Martin say that “innovation must be consumer centered to be meaningful and provide competitive advantage….”

We spend as much time as we can time with customers, targets and end consumers to understand what they need so that our innovations are relevant to them and successful in the market.  We try to uncover needs that are not being met and provide products and services that fill those needs.  Staying close to the customer and the consumer is the key to successful innovation.

We have the people involved in the innovation efforts meet with as many customers as possible, asking about unmet needs and looking for white space opportunities.  We think it’s best to meet at the customer’s facility, but there are other ways too.  When customers visit our facility we ask them to take time to sit down with our innovation team - we try to turn any customer visit into an innovation session.  Meeting at our place is a lot easier and cheaper, and it works well.

The product is usually the main focus of innovation in our industry and sustainability, portability, cost reduction, retail ready, and corrugated replacement, among others are common efforts.  But services such as VMI, speed to market and inventory reduction are valuable innovation projects that can yield big returns and that have little to do with traditional product innovation.

And there is another benefit to connecting to our customers above and beyond the innovation – our relationship with those customers and targets gets deeper and stronger as we work through the innovation process.  Getting close to as many people as possible within the customer’s organization assures that we get the broadest range of inputs so that ultimately we can provide the best solution.

About Zumbiel Packaging

Zumbiel Packaging is a 170 year-old family-owned company that manufactures sustainable paperboard packaging for the beverage, food, consumer products, healthcare and automotive industries. Zumbiel holds FSC and SFI Chain-of-custody certificates. For more information contact Tom Zumbiel at or 513-476-8120.