Soon, Thom Aspgren will have worked at Swedish Match for 20 years and he still has no intention of changing jobs. The work he performs together with his team developing new products is subject to stringent secrecy requirements until the products are launched.
What is your team’s function at Technology Development?
“We have two assignments. Firstly, to aid production and improve processes by, for example, producing new machines or modules and secondly, to develop new products.”
Please describe your process for developing a new product?
“A few of our salespeople or our marketing department may have received an inquiry from a customer. Our task is to work out how to produce the product. This is how the tobacco-free snus Onico was created, for example. But sometimes we in the production team identify new products that we then pass on to the marketing department.”
What are you developing at the moment?
“Unfortunately, that is a secret. Even if Swedish Match is the market leader in Sweden, we face stiff competition. Much of what we do is highly confidential and the other snus manufacturers are extremely interested in our actions. It is solely through our focus on innovation and development that we have maintained our position.”
Maybe you could tell us about a product you have launched recently?
“Well, this past spring we launched our new ‘star design’ for mini portions. Our team designed a method of packaging the mini portion in a smaller can. In addition, the snus is elegantly laid out in a star pattern. It has proved extremely popular, primarily among female users who don’t want a snus product that takes too much space.”
How does Swedish Match encourage innovation and fresh ideas?
“Primarily by listening. The snus plant is small and most ideas are home grown. We need to constantly discover and pay attention to ideas that are hatched while we work.”
Finally, do you have any tips for intrapreneurs on how they can get their ideas heard?
“A network in which to share ideas is essential. Keeping an idea to yourself until the product is ready doesn’t work. By sharing, you can get help with developing the product or solution. In addition, these discussions often generate more ideas.”
Published: Sep, 2011
Article from Universum
Text: Anne Margrethe Mannerfelt
Photo: Kristofer Hedlund