Exclusive Interview with Dr. Steven A. Bolkan form Church and Dwight Co., Inc.

Dr. Steven A. Bolkan is the Director of R&D for Transformational New Product Development and a speaker at Cleaning Products Europe 2016.

Q. Cleaning Products EU 2016 will touch on innovations within packaging, waterless cleaning, energy saving, etc. What do you think were some of the most influential Cleaning Products innovations in 2015?

I think the biggest innovations for 2015 have come in the packaging category.  Here we have always seen unique features for delivering consumer products.   Even in the somewhat established European market for unit dose with PVOH film we still see innovations for further concentration and smaller but yet as effective doses.   We have also seen a more substantive focus on natural chemical ingredients for both packaging materials and for formulation use.  

Q. What are the main challenges impeding innovation within the Cleaning Products market, today?

Fundamental economic concerns and consumer discretionary spending certainly have had an impact on innovation for the cleaning industry sector in 2015.   For some companies more focus has been placed on maintaining existing business rather than riskier innovation projects.     In total,  however, there was still  great innovation opportunities as consumers are forever drawn into new and interesting products that will save them money and time.  

Q. Do you think consumer input hinders or helps innovation in the Cleaning Products industry?

Consumer input is the life blood for new innovation.   A single idea translated into a concept and later turned into a consumer product takes a great deal of iteration with consumers to get it right.     What one has to worry about is making sure you are testing your ideas with your target consumers and using studies with enough statistical power to yield confidence that the idea is good,  or still needs work.    Poor consumer assessment will generally lead to a hindrance innovation through the potential marketing of bad ideas and abandonment of good ideas.

Q. Do you think consumer input hinders or helps innovation in the Cleaning Products industry?

This year I am looking forward to hearing about sustainability and the use of natural and bio based products.    Energy savings, cost reduction and elimination of non-value ingredients are themes that I am looking forward to hear about as well.