Sealed Air Corp., the maker of the iconic Bubble Wrap, has announced that it would be changing the design of Bubble Wrap and that the revamped product will no longer pop as before. The reason for the change was explained as the company was looking for a cheaper option for its popular packing material. The news was met with disappointment from consumers nationwide.
Bubble Wrap has been around since 1957 and has a special place in the hearts of many Americans. Many remember popping Bubble Wrap as a child and being fascinated by the noise produced from a simple squeeze of each bubble. Weird Al Yankovic mentioned the fun of popping Bubble Wrap in his popular song “White And Nerdy.” Every year, multiple colleges put out free squares of Bubble Wrap to be used as a stress reliever for college students preparing for finals. Finding a replacement for that type of stress relief will be difficult.
The new Bubble Wrap style, named iBubble Wrap will be sold in flat plastic sheets that contain no air. The user will then have to fill the sheet with air using a specialized pump manufactured by the company. The air will travel through the sheet inflating the protective bubbles, but these bubbles will not burst under pressure. A roll of the new style takes up about one-fiftieth as much space as a roll of its predecessor.
As the global packaging business continues to grow swiftly, Sealed Air is revamping its Bubble Wrap design to appeal to space-conscious online retailers. Retailers like Amazon and Target are actively looking for ways to offer cheaper, faster shipping while ensuring that the products reach customers undamaged. Protective packaging is big business in the current retail environment. According to research firm Freedonia Group, sales of protective packaging reached $20 billion in 2013. Bubble packaging and air pillows continue to be the most popular forms of protection.
Sealed Air is also hoping that its new design will increase its market share in the industry. Sealed Air has been losing business to local imitators in far-flung markets and profit margins on Bubble Wrap contracted sharply throughout the previous decade. In 2010, Bubble Wrap made up 5.7 percent of Sealed Air’s sales, but that dropped to 3.6 percent by 2012.