Pro's Corner

Developing New Versions of Iconic Products : Viper Venom

We designed this blog to be as generic as possible. No one wants to read anything that constantly uses a product name in every sentence or paragraph. However, we wanted our cleaning customers to get a glimpse into product development as it happens. Therefore, we need to discuss the names in order to relay the details of the new formulas developed. One good thing for our customers is that we have an organized vetting process that follows every step of the development process. Any final formula will have several iterations before this process ends. Sometimes the project is tabled or dropped altogether. A few will be tested by competent cleaners who we know will give objective feedback.

Imagine yourself being in the meeting in the fall of 2017 where the discussion of adding competing formulas to our benchmark product Viper Venom. The reasons for investing time with a project for developing new versions of a product that totally dominated its market segment had to be persuasive. There was enough support to move forward. Viper Venom had many competitive attempts at usurping market share. Primarily, they added even more alkalinity, yet Viper Venom still dominated its market segment.

Viper Venom Hard Surface Cleaner

From inside our development department, we knew that Viper Venom had many competitors whose primary goal was to make it stronger.  Alkalinity is the least expensive of the basic trio of surfactants solvents and builders (alkaline or acidic). However, the strength of alkalinity from sodium hydroxide in the Viper Venom formula forced this product to be shipped as a hazardous material.  This decision was based on a DOT test called corrositex that uses simulated skin.  Our concern is that most of the competitive solutions are not subjected to this test and are not shipped as hazardous material. 

However, we observed that most formulas are not balanced in their approach. Alkalinity and solvency do most of the work with some surfactancy added to aid penetration into the surfaces of the grout or concrete. We wanted new formula to lead with surfactants (1 to 4 instead of 1 to 1 dilution in restorative situations) and follow up with alkalinity and solvency. Non-ionic surfactants are good degreasers. Surfactants added to formulas, especially in hard surface cleaners, need to address foam levels by incorporating low foam technology whenever appropriate. The reason is that the soils in the grout include residues of maintenance cleaning solutions that can build up a lot of foam in a restorative cleaning process.

Our new approach uses three combinations of surfactants. The first is designed to work better on hard surfaces than the workhorse of surfactants in soft surface cleaning. Using something special brings about better performance. Non-ionics with low foam characteristics helped reduce the level of foam generated by the groups of surfactants, which assists thorough rinsing of the floor. The third type of surfactant is charged to draw soil away from the surface into the cleaning solution, which also ensures a more thorough rinsing.

The new formula uses green ingredients except for the phosphates. Phosphates hold soil in suspension in the cleaning solutions which have been drawn away from the surfaces. They complete the draw and hold technique which leads to better cleaning.  Phosphates provide alkalinity along with the sodium metasilicate, but at a lower level in the pH 11 range instead of the pH 12 range. The glycol ether used attacks grease along with the non-ionic surfactant and alkalinity. The solvent is used at levels meeting VOC regulations and also water soluble which assists free rinsing. We also chose not to add any fragrances which allows the cleaner to select their own choice or not.Viper Venom II Tile and grout Cleaner 1 Gallon

Finally, a good competitive formula to Viper Venom had been developed, fortunately by us. We named it Viper Venom II to honor the predecessor and to lay claim to its legacy for the same reasons that it is used in family names. Both are great products, with different strengths. The original utilized alkalinity and solvency to break down oily soils in grout while the II used surfactancy to break down and draw oils soils away from the surface for easier rinsing. The lack of odor also was refreshing as its dynamic cleaning presence was not from volatiles used but in the clean result. In short, we developed a choice for our customers in terms of what we offered. The original stills hold the top market spot but II is not far behind. The lesson is that if you see a weakness even in the best product and can develop another option, then do so and your market share can grow even when in a dominant position.




Tile & Grout, general cleaning


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