The story of how ZORBX Odor Remover came to be is a testament to the old adage “necessity is the mother of invention”.
During her career as a registered nurse, Debbie Mabrouk of Strongsville, Ohio had repeatedly observed an issue negatively impacting part of the patient population. Odor removers are routinely used in medical facilities to combat unpleasant odors created when patients are incontinent or ill. But most odor-removing products available at the time weren’t truly removing these odors; instead, they were masking unpleasant odors with perfumes and fragrances. Not only were these products ineffective at removing stubborn odors, but they contained allergens and airborne irritants, triggering issues for patients with allergies and/or respiratory issues.
Debbie and her husband Issa felt that there must be a better way—a way to remove unwanted odors without exacerbating patients’ allergies and respiratory conditions. And the idea for ZORBX odor remover was born.
Fast forward 17 years, and ZORBX Inc. now has a cult following in the healthcare industry, along with a full line of home care and pet care odor removers available in big box stores across the country. As Issa Mabrouk—President and CEO of ZORBX Inc.—explained, “We originally developed the product for the healthcare industry, but people inevitably tried it in their homes, and found that it was extremely effective for pet odors. The growth was crazy. We regularly get calls from people thanking us for developing this product.”
ZORBX odor remover is a rarity because, while most odor removers intentionally leave some sort of residual smell behind, ZORBX products are designed to do just the opposite. In fact, the brand proudly touts that it “removes odors instantly, leaving behind the sweet smell of nothing”. In addition to being fragrance-free, the product is all-natural, hypoallergenic, nontoxic, biodegradable, phthalate-free, and contains no harsh chemicals or enzymes. As Issa notes, “The product’s formulation is very effective, very green, and very clean.”
In the same way that Debbie and Issa observed the opportunity to create a better product, they also saw the opportunity to create better packaging. All liquid odor remover products were packaged in traditional trigger sprayer bottles, but ZORBX odor remover wasn’t a me-too product, and the brand’s founders weren’t seeking out me-too packaging.
They knew they had an extremely effective and unique product on their hands, but in the retail environment they were competing against behemoth brands with well-known products. Ultimately, if ZORBX odor remover didn’t attract shoppers’ eyes, the brand wouldn’t be closing sales at the shelf. As Issa explained, “Once people try the product, they know it works. But to get people to try the product, we needed to break the mold, and get shoppers scanning the shelves to pause when they saw ZORBX.” The Mabrouk’s sought out a better package—something more convenient for their customers, and something that would create contrast on the shelves. Enter: flexible packaging.
A light bulb went off for Issa when he had the idea to put ZORBX Odor Remover in a lightweight stand-up pouch rather than a bottle. He began searching for a company who could help him turn his idea into reality, and online research led him to Glenroy, a flexible packaging manufacturer in the Midwest with expertise in producing pouches for liquids.
Glenroy was game for the challenge, and confirmed for Issa that making the leap to flexible packaging would yield many benefits for both the ZORBX brand and the brand’s consumers. As Glenroy explained, pouches:
- are conveniently lighter and more portable for today’s on-the-go consumers.
- use approximately 60 percent less plastic than rigid plastic bottles.
- require approximately 50 percent less energy to produce.
- require fewer trucks for transportation—reducing fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions as well as transportation costs within the distribution channel.
- allow for more efficient warehousing (since unfilled pouches take up significantly less space than bottles).
- produce less landfill waste.
- generate less CO2 emissions during production.
- reinforce the high-performance and environmentally-conscious attributes of the brand.
- can be extremely durable and withstand rigorous burst testing and drop testing.
Glenroy’s packaging engineers first worked with Issa to understand the product’s formulation, and then proceeded to engineer a durable, high-barrier flexible packaging lamination that would provide puncture resistance and durability for the pouch.
Once an ideal flexible packaging structure was selected, multiple pouch prototypes with various fitments were created and evaluated. When developing prototypes, Glenroy took into account many key factors such as consumer demographics, where and how the product would be used by consumers, where and how the product would be stored by consumers, the product’s lifecycle, the filling process, distribution methods, and retail display requirements. Issa worked closely with Glenroy throughout the process.
The winning prototype then underwent a series of testing, including drop testing, puncture resistance testing, product/packaging compatibility testing, and seal testing, among others.
While the process may sound smooth, there were bumps along the road. The process of finding a filler was a challenge. “While there are many bottle fillers, there are far fewer fillers for this type of package because it’s not the norm,” Issa explained. “Glenroy pointed me in the right direction to find a filler. Pouches are a growing area, and as the popularity of pouches keeps growing, so will the number of fillers in the industry.”
Despite the learning curve of converting to a new package, when asked if he would recommend making the switch from rigid bottles to flexible packaging, Issa issued a resounding “yes”.
“Pouches have been a great move for ZORBX. For example, when I need to bring in 50,000 pouches, they might take up three skids. But if I order the same amount of bottles, I might have two truckloads coming in. Most importantly, our product looks great on the shelf, consumers have been very receptive to the new package, and we’ve experienced exponential growth.”
The stand-up sprayer pouch looks nothing like its shelf neighbors, easily cutting through the visual clutter. A novel package is just one more ingredient in the unique formula of ZORBX Inc.’s success.