Sealed Air Corporation (HBS 9-582-103) case analysis

Essay by Venkata August 2004

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1. What are the problems?

Market leadership and technological innovation have marked Sealed Air's participation in the U.S. protective packaging market. Several small regional producers have introduced products, which are less effective than Sealed Air's but similar in appearance and cheaper. The company must determine its response to this new competition. The company is faced with a difficult choice of choosing from a range of feasible options ranging from doing nothing to introducing a new product. This has raised product line management issues, particularly cannibalization, and affords the opportunity for the development of a marketing plan for any new product introduction. The timing of launch and any change in policies for Air Cap cushioning and Sealed Air's other products also needed to be communicated.

2. What has been happening in this market? How is SA doing?


The protective packaging market had three major use segments:

Positioning, blocking, and bracing - e.g.

shipment of motors, computer peripherals etc.

Flexible Wraps - could be used as void fill also, e.g. glassware, small spare parts, light medical instruments etc.

Void Fill - to prevent movement during shipping, did not generally qualify as flexible wraps.


Till 1970 heavy paper based products had dominated the market. In the seventies companies began product development with an assessment of packagers' needs. In addition to coated and uncoated polyethylene air bubbles there were two major competitors in these markets: paper based products and foams.


The proliferation of packaging products and the lack of easily demonstrable universal superiority caused confusion among the end users. Users were a varied lot - some buying on price/performance basis whereas the others with purchase department mentality considered price per square foot and delivery before any purchase decision.


Based on domain knowledge Hauser guessed that a packaging engineer...