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How to stop launching products with terrible packaging

Every week we receive videos from consumers demonstrating their frustration with the packaging of certain fmcg products.

Given the critical role packaging plays in determining the success of new products, it seems strange that so many are launched by major companies, that won’t open, reseal, pour or store, as the user feels they should.

So how does this happen?

Having implemented simple processes to help reduce the risk associated with packaging development for many of the Worlds’ biggest FMCG brands (often after a major failure or recall) we can share some of the key learnings as to the two most common causes of packaging failures.

1) The goal of the project was cost saving, not delighting the end user.

Many packaging projects are aimed at trying to find cost savings. When the success of a project will be measured internally by the amount of money saved, it is easy to imagine how the importance of the user experience can be overlooked.

2) The testing of the packaging was not the natural environment of consumption.

If you invite consumers to a focus group or give them an online questionnaire, you are unlikely to see how the packaging really performs, in the natural environment of consumption.

This creates a gap between the data collected and the reality of the experience.

So what is the solution?

While our plans to help clients reduce the risk associated with their packaging development vary, there are two elements that appear in all of them.

Connect the whole project team with how people use the packaging in the natural environment.

Asking consumers to share videos of their experience of using the packaging in the natural environment and time of consumption, provides a much more realistic and accurate view of their experience. If the packaging is not performing, it will be presented in a brutally honest way, that is far harder to ignore than a data point.

Start to build hypothesis with market available stimulus

Developing prototypes is both time consuming and costly. Using market available stimulus from local or overseas markets or adjacent categories, provides an opportunity to form consumer led hypothesis in a very cost effective way

These techniques do not remove the need for robust data in a packaging development process. They simply reduce risk, by providing a more authentic connection with the actual consumer experience, for all the project stakeholders.