I am packaging challenged. There, I’ve said it. My family has known for some time, now I am admitting it to you. I have trouble opening the packages that contain cheese, orange juice, batteries, potato chips and any product packaged in a “bubble pack.” While I think Oswald acted alone, I’m quite sure there is a conspiracy going on here, to create packaging that meets manufactures’ needs but drive consumers crazy.
I’m sure you have your own favorite packaging issues. We are surrounded by them. Here are the five that get my goat the most.
Impenetrable plastic packaging. On a business trip recently, I had to purchase dental floss and a cheap iPhone charger. Purchasing the items at a drug store near my hotel was quick and easy. Once I got the items back to my room, I realized I had absolutely no hope of opening them with the tools I had. The front desk of course, helped me out with a pair of scissors, but you get my point. Why does an iPhone charger need to be in such hard-to-open, sealed protective packaging?
Boxed breakfast cereal. Worldwide, the breakfast cereal manufacturing industry generates about $33 billion in annual revenue. Why then, is the “state of the art” in breakfast cereal packaging a wax paper bag that, after opening, you kind of roll-up and stuff back down in the box? Not air-tight nor does it protect against moisture, but at least the cereal doesn’t fall out, right? Really? That’s the plan?
Packaged cheese. We live at a great time in history. Huge strides have been made in re-usable packaging for cheese. The zip-lock closure is everywhere. It’s great when it works as designed. It never does for me. The “Tear Here” instruction is a joke because when I try, it tears everywhere, often making the zip-lock portion hard or impossible to use. I shouldn’t be eating so much cheese anyway.
Batteries in bubble packs. We use a lot of batteries at my house. Between dog-walking flashlights and me being a guitar player, batteries are plentiful. Batteries, by their nature, get stored for long periods of time. Many have prominent “Good Until” dates on them, presented as a benefit when they are seemingly decades in the future. Then how come batteries are sold in bubble packs, great to hang in stores, terrible to store in my cupboard. The cupboard we have for batteries is a joke, with multiple battery sizes precariously stacked in their crappy packaging and loose batteries always falling out.
Mountains of paper packaging. As someone who works from home a bit, the fast food drive-thru is often an attractive and mindless meal choice. When I indulge in it, I am absolutely astounded at the packaging to food ratio. Our fast food is wrapped in paper, packaged in a box and stuffed in a bag, all items brightly printed with the fast food chain’s marketing. It cracks me up sometimes that the food is in all that packaging for a very limited time. At the end of a fast food meal you are often left with an over-the-top amount mountain of this silliness.
I know there are a lot of issues in developing packaging for a consumer product. The cost, the shipping and the retail store shelf are all issues that need to be taken into account. I get it. My point here is that is seems to me that the consumer’s needs are way down the priority list. Just sayin…
What product packaging frustrates you? What would you like to change?
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Your comments on cereal boxes merely scratched the surface. Life cereal now asks the consumer to “Lift tab carefully to open.” In other words, when the cardboard tears and the box won’t fold back to close, it’s my fault! The inner bag uses one of two types of glue: 1) impossible to pry open forcing you to use scissors; or 2) barely sealed to begin with and won’t re-fold to protect “freshness.” The other exhortation – “contents may have settled” – is merely a warning that the distortion to the package is also not the cereal maker’s fault. Pass the milk.