They say that doctors make the worst patients. I've been thinking...do packaging professionals make the worst packaging users of others' products—or the best?
They are consumers, too. And, because of their knowledge and experience, they could be excruciatingly cruel in their critiques.
But isn't peer review one of the best assessments you could get, putting ego aside and really listening?
The packaging industry has so many competitions celebrating packaging excellence. Perhaps we should do more to collectively learn from the duds, with a formal process to contribute constructive criticism to colleagues. I've participated in a couple of these "product teardowns" as they call it in the automation industry during meetings of the Chicago Chapter of the Institute of Packaging Professionals. Very entertaining! But helpful, too.
At the least, you should be mining—and minding!—your consumer complaints. Oliver Campbell, director of procurement for packaging and packaging engineering at Dell, says he knows within hours if a consumer has lodged a complaint via social media from anywhere in the world—and responds as necessary.
Here...I'll start with a few improvements I'd like to see:
I've been asking for decades for a lipstick package that lets you sharpen the stick as it wears down. Anyone who uses lipstick can tell you a good edge is necessary to properly outline your lips and get a professional look.
Also, being empty-nesters, my husband and I just don't eat enough bread to finish a loaf before it starts to mold.
How about selling half a loaf? Or, better yet (for us), reformulate the product and refine the package so it can be stored in the freezer. Then we could simply toast slices as we need them to thaw them.
Identifying a perplexing problem for your customers is only half the battle. Finding—and implementing!—a solution is where the real work comes in. As Jason Foster, founder of Replenish, innocently asked as he started his journey to commercialize an ingenious reusable, refillable bottle, "How hard could it be?"
As we all know, it is hard. A packaging development could be years in the making, with finessing at every step.
But the payoff, my friends, the payoff! Delighting consumers earns their loyalty, which is more than just continued sales. It's creating an advocate for your brand. And word of mouth now has a megaphone in social media.
A while back, SeaPak changed its frozen breaded shrimp package by adding a zipper to the inner bag to go along with a one-color print with heating/cooking instructions. After I open the package, I can more easily store the leftovers in my freezer without taking up too much space, as well as see how much product is left so I know when to replenish my stock.
Do you have any idea of how happy that change made me? You do now.