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Innovation with a smile

In part five of our Innovation at SIG series, we see how SIG united observation, ideation, prototyping and testing to create its innovative on-the-go pack – combismile In part four of our Innovation at SIG series, we...
In part five of our Innovation at SIG series, we see how SIG united observation, ideation, prototyping and testing to create its innovative on-the-go pack – combismile

In part four of our Innovation at SIG series, we saw how repeated testing of concepts is crucial to determine a truly innovative packaging solution. But what does a successful SIG innovation look like? Here, we look back at how SIG applied its consumer-centric innovation model to create a new generation of packaging for a new era of demands.


SIG’s combismile journey started nearly five years before its launch. The original goal was to develop an on-the-go, single-serve pack for consumers in China. So, to achieve this, SIG started in the streets of Shanghai. Its team of researchers observed how consumers purchased products, how they consumed them on the go, and also how they used them during the day at work. During this observation phase, SIG looked at consumer behaviours to try and understand the drivers for specific actions. One observed subject, for example, didn’t notice that their nose was touching the peeled-back aluminium foil on a product’s closure. This highlighted the consumer’s trade-off between hygiene and perceived freshness of the packed product, and created a solid consumer insight on hygiene. SIG observed hundreds of unarticulated insights like these, which were then categorised into six clear domains or themes. These included factors such as appearance, convenience and mobility, savouring and satisfaction, health and hygiene, as well as protection and closures.


Drawing on its large pool of observed consumer insights, SIG’s innovation team generated hundreds of potential ideas. These ideas explored all kinds of different pack shapes, closures and straw types. Any ideas and elements that were considered good were then refined and mixed with other good ideas to create even better hybrid ideas. From over 400 ideas, SIG’s innovation team gradually refined and remixed all its good ideas in a reiterative process that ensured ideas failed early. This process of failing to succeed was crucial to SIG since innovation is most efficient when failures happen fast and early, when failing is relatively inexpensive in terms of design.

Prototyping and testing

After the ideation phase, chosen ideas were then synthesised into 20 or so basic mock-ups. Again, good ideas and elements were refined and mixed with other ideas in a constant and reiterative process of synthesis and discovery. From these initial mock-ups, SIG developed eight food-safe prototypes or concepts for testing. During formative testing with consumers, SIG measured concepts for their efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction. This was recorded via both verbal and non-verbal user feedback since what consumers say, do and think, are three very different things. These concepts were then progressively refined and assessed not only for their consumer value but also customer, retailer, technical and financial benefits.

The winning concept

The final concept was the combismile pack we have today – a pack that helps producers meet the demand for more mobile, healthy and individual food and drink experiences. With its curved, modern shape and easy-grip corners, combismile was first introduced in the market in early 2018 with China’s largest dairy producer Yili. Yili needed a unique packaging solution for its premium Shuhua milk brand, so it looked no further than the unique shape and on-the-go value of combismile. Since then combismile has been chosen as the perfect fit for mobile and differentiated products in China and beyond. Proof that combismile is the innovative and flexible packaging solution for today’s consumer needs. To learn more about the potential of combismile, check out the exclusive combismile report. Inside, you’ll discover how global megatrends are creating a new era of challenges, and how combismile can turn them into new opportunities for your business. Want to know more about SIG’s innovation process? Contact us now or learn more about our commitment to Product Innovation & Differentiation. Disclaimer: combismile is currently not available in Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy and Japan.