Dr Pepper Snapple teams with R&D/Leverage

Changing the packaging of an iconic brand always comes with challenges and risks. But the results of a recent packaging update for Snapple have yielded considerable benefits for the brand and its devoted fans.

Snapple single-serve premium teas and juice drinks are now available in a PET bottle designed in a collaborative effort between Dr Pepper Snapple Group and R&D/Leverage. R&D/Leverage has a long history of working with DPS, so when the product development team at DPS began working on a way to make its Snapple bottle plastic while retaining everything that consumers know and love about the brand, they teamed with R&D/Leverage to develop the perfect solution.

A key driver behind the conversion to plastic was to provide consumers with a convenient, lighter weight container they could enjoy on-the-go. But the glass Snapple bottle is iconic, so an absolute requirement for this project was to maintain both the look and the feel of the original glass bottle. According to Patrick George, senior director of packaging engineering for DPS, a successful conversion had to have all the things a glass bottle had. “We decided that success would mean that when the bottles were put side-by-side - we couldn’t tell the difference between glass and plastic,” says George. That also meant including the famous metal cap that produced the iconic “snap” when the bottle was opened. “As far as we know, it’s the first metal cap on a plastic beverage bottle -- a hot-fill bottle,” says George. This created several challenges for the engineering team.

First, when hot-filling the PET bottle it shrinks, then pulls a vacuum. George explained that they needed to pull the vacuum on the top without distorting the bottle in any way. Secondly, the PET bottle had to work with existing manufacturing equipment. And last, the Snapple team had to ensure the plastic bottle would make the same “snap” with the metal closure as the iconic glass bottle. That was a critical component of the project.

One of the keys to success was working with a company that had no preconceived notion about what could or could not be done. R&D/Leverage filled that bill. “We wanted to go in and say ‘this is what we want to do, now how do we get there?” take the handcuffs off of their engineering team and allow them to take us where we needed to go,” says George.

R&D/Leverage was able to accomplish the “look” that Snapple wanted and maintain the attributes of the iconic shape, as well as the “snap” feature of the metal cap on a PET bottle. “Snapple worked really hard on their brand and the iconic look they’ve had over the years in the glass bottle,” comments Duncan Hardy, Director of Sales for R&D/Leverage. “Being able to accomplish that same look in plastic and maintain the attributes of the iconic shape and the “snap” feature was a technical struggle, but we achieved what Snapple required including making the metal cap work.”

The manufacturing process was developed in R&D/Leverage’s lab under its product development program. “A lot of things about this project were very technically challenging,” said DPS’s George. “From a technical standpoint R&D/Leverage is tops. They are truly good at packaging design and structure. We’ve dealt with R&D/Leverage for a number of years and I’ve personally dealt with the company for over a decade. It was natural to integrate them into this project to achieve the success outcome we anticipated.”

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