Sealed Air Corp., maker of Bubble Wrap, is launching a new version of its signature product. Called iBubble Wrap, the new packaging material will be sent in flat plastic sheets to be filled with air using a custom-made pump. But the savings in space comes with the loss of the product’s well-known pop.
According to the Charlotte, N.C.-based company, one roll of iBubble Wrap uses about one-fiftieth as much space before it is inflated. Although a roll of the new material costs less than the original Bubble Wrap, shippers must buy a pump—currently priced at $5,500—from Sealed Air. The company plans to lower the price to $1,000 by 2017. Sealed Air also said it is investigating ways to deliver the packaging material in small quantities from trucks equipped with air pumps.
iBubble comes as a push to restore the Bubble Wrap brand, which has seen decreasing sales in an increasingly crowded market. According to Sealed Air, by 2012, Bubble Wrap made up 3.6 percent of the company’s sales, down from 5.7 percent in 2010. Due to its size and shipping costs, Bubble Wrap is rarely sent to customers more than 150 miles from Sealed Air’s factories. As a result, the company has not been able to capitalize on e-commerce in faraway markets.