Packaging: It's something most consumers hardly think about, unless there's a problem.
A recent survey, reported last week by Marketing Daily, finds almost everyone is satisfied with current packaging in the foods and beverage categories. Only five percent expressed dissatisfaction with packaging for breakfast cereals, snack foods/cookies and salads. The rate of dissatisfaction was even lower -- a low as one percent -- for coffees, juice, soda and sauces.
Nearly two-thirds, however, feel many food products are "over-packaged."
Convenience is seen by consumers as the most important aspect of good food packaging. Ease of opening and the ability re-seal are listed as top priorities. Packaging attractiveness and depiction of a realistic image of the food product are not, ironically, seen as important factors by consumers surveyed. Food marketers and package designers, I'm sure, wouldn't agree.
I think the results might be different if the survey had also asked about non-foods packaging. How many of us, for example, have struggled to open products packaged in that hard, transparent flexible packaging, the kind often used for hardware, toys and electronics? How many of us have suffered cuts from the razor-sharp jagged edges once you finally do manage to get the package partly open? Larry David devoted much of a hilarious "Curb Your Enthusiasm" episode to that impossible packaging.
We've also seen some examples of brilliant packaging, like the iconic plastic egg used to package L'eggs pantyhose. I was the lead on the PR team that helped launch the product for Hanes back in the mid-1970s, and the distinct packaging was a key part of the story back then. Not only did it stand out from the clutter of supermarket and drug store shelves, but it served other important functions as well. Back then, L'eggs was one of the first unboarded hosiery products, which meant basically that it hadn't been ironed flat to take the shape of a leg. Instead, it took the shape of the leg once it was put on, which helped make it fit so well. But all scrunched up, it didn't look particularly pretty or sexy, so the package had to actually hide the product from view. And it needed to be bulky so it couldn't be easily stolen. Of course, those latter packaging design requirements weren't usually told to the consumer. But the package concept fell together beautifully, as executed for Hanes by Herb Lubalin and Pushpin Studios.
It's quite different from much of today's grocery packaging, which the survey seems to show hardly registers with shoppers.