The needs of consumers around the world have evolved quickly as safety concerns grew as a result of the pandemic. Understanding these needs and adapting business strategies to meet them is important for companies in establishing a level of trust with their customers.
GP PRO, the commercial division of Georgia-Pacific, has been making innovative decisions based on consumer research for several years. When the pandemic brought a growing priority for new levels of safety and cleanliness, GP PRO’s commitment to consumer research had them ahead of the game. Based on findings from its research, the company has recently launched an automated sealing machine that is spill-resistant and tamper-evident for off-premises beverages. Their consistent drive to meeting the needs of their customers has inspired their on-going commitment to creative problem-solving solutions.
Alec Frisch, Vice President and General Manager of GP PRO, provided insight into their consumer research and frequent surveys. His involvement with the company since 2010 has taught him about the importance of ingenuity: “We spend a lot of time at GP concerning innovation which starts with addressing what the present needs and issues are in the market. As a result, we do a lot of consumer research to understand the unmet needs and discuss creative innovation approaches that can be used to solve these issues. With Covid, behaviors and perceptions of consumers were changing, and hygiene became a number one concern, therefore our number one priority.” GP PRO’s trend analysis and feedback from operators have influenced their prediction that renowned hygiene standards will be an expectation moving forward and not a pandemic trend soon to change.
About 3 plus years ago, GP PRO’s research indicated a pre-Pandemic need to address to-go beverage concerns. How could they create a way to ensure drinks would not spill during transportation, lids would not pop off, and no delivery drivers could tamper with the drink?
“We identified an opportunity to solve for a snap-on beverage lid,” Frisch explained. “Our surveys asked consumers how often they were using take-out and to-go options and gauged their levels of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. This allowed us to understand what we needed to help our industry partners fix.”
GP PRO’s new sealing machine helped reduce the tampering and spilling concerns of their customers. The Auto Sealer, as it’s commonly called, confirms that no other person is touching the lid. When the drink is filled, the machine seals the drink, meeting the hygienic standards of customers. Additionally, the perforated lids allow straws to be inserted, but when the drink is tilted or upside down, there are no spills. The perforated lids allow CO2 to escape and no buildup of gas pressure.
While this product preceded Covid-19, when the pandemic was introduced, the product became more relevant from a value proposition. As delivery and to-go services exploded in the foodservice industry, there was a more popular apprehension that orders were not tampered with and arrived at the customers’ houses safely.
“Fountain drinks are also one of the most profitable items for operators. The percentage of an order with a drink is increasing as more people order online or through delivery providers and operators utilize combo pricing to entice customers. With drink attachment options, our Auto Sealer is an opportunity for restaurants to advertise their cleanliness and hygienic precautions. Customers will be confident in knowing that their drink has not been touched or spilled.” The lids used with GP PRO’s Automated Sealing Machine are sustainable, using 60% less plastic than the traditional snap-on lid. The lids take up 90% less space than traditional lids, too, meaning fewer trucks are needed on the roads.
The Automated Sealing Machine additionally works with hot drinks and alcoholic beverages. As more operations are opening— casinos, stadiums, amusement parks— there is a growing interest for drinks to go, and with that comes the spill-proof concern. There is an ongoing commitment among businesses in the foodservice industry to increase their safety standards.GP PRO’s creative solution will allow businesses to safely meet the demands of consumers.
With the growth in takeout and delivery services, and drive-thru options since the pandemic, GP PRO predicts delivery options will remain popular beyond herd immunity. Before the pandemic, 40% of restaurant business was off-premise. This statistic has grown to about 50%. “If I look at the amount of what I have ordered online in the past year, there is no doubt my habit has grown. I don’t have to wait in a line or even leave my home. Our behaviors have changed and with technology only continuing to grow, contactless delivery and new safety standards will remain attractive for consumers.”
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant program is offering operators entrée to innovative and strategic business decisions. With that, the GP PRO Automated Sealing Machine is a smart option to ensure customers hygienically receive their to-go drinks. Restaurant and foodservice professionals can access more information by visiting the GP PRO website.