Good packaging design takes real people operating in typical real-life situations into account. Even if the product is fantastic, if the packaging doesn’t work, then the brand will very likely lose customers, and the company’s reputation will be damaged.
While offering no guarantees in terms of design success, a new international standard, ISO 17480: 2015: Packaging – Accessible design – Ease of opening, released in March this year, offers guidelines for developers, designers, and those evaluating packaging. These guidelines are in the form of both requirements and recommendations for ensuring that packaging design is accessible to end-users, and that it focuses on ease of opening. Design aspects that are taken into account in terms of “openability” include:
- The opening location, and
- Opening methods.
User-based and instrumental evaluation techniques are also provided as part of the standard.
The new ISO standard also includes a checklist of the various performance characteristics packaging should have to be compliant with the standard. These include:
- Opening pull forces
- Color contrast to ensure optimal readability of labels and their instructions
Torque and Opening Pull Forces
It is certainly true that packaging design impacts on functionality. Potentially it also has a huge effect on the end-user’s perception of the product. So if a person finds it difficult to open packaging – be it a cold cut tray, screw cap, or a pull ring – this is very likely to put them off buying the product, and possibly also other products linked to the brand.
When choosing the right packaging design for your products, the possibilities for transfer of force must be taken into account.
A simple example relates to cold cut trays. Intriguingly, researchers have found that by just increasing the flap size on this type of packaging from 1 cm x 1 cm to 2 cm x 2 cm allows a better finger grip, and effectively gives the finger double the operating strength, making it much easier to open.
When it comes to screw tops, the user has to be able to grip sufficiently hard to create the friction force required to turn the cap at the same time. If the packaging itself is too flexible, the pressure required might push it out of shape, and more force will be needed. If this is the case, the designer will need to change the design and/or use a different packaging material.
The size of screw tops is also important as the larger the diameter of the top, the more torque or force will be required to open it.
Heavy packaging and types that need strength to open (like pull rings in tins and cans) can also put people off.
What Research Tells Us in Terms of Good Packaging Design
Market research speaks volumes in terms of what consumers want from packaging. A household-care packaging trends survey undertaken by Mintel recently shows that consumers want packaging that is easy to use – and it isn’t age or consumer-group related. For instance, in the survey, one-hand and no-hand dispensers for products got a big thumbs-up from younger consumers in the 18- to 34-year-old age bracket as well as households with three or more people. Older consumers (above 55) and people living alone or with one other person were the least enthusiastic. Ultimately those who like this packaging idea were people who appreciate a focus on packaging solutions that are likely to ease and simplify household routines.
Mintel’s 2015 research also tells us that in spite of the specifications in ISO 17480: 2015 that require labeling to be readable, consumers are no longer that interested in food labels, and the impact of food labels in general appears to be waning. While nutrition panels on labels do influence consumers, they say they would like these to be more informative.
The key is to identify possible end users and their needs before finalizing the packaging designs for your products.
For assistance in packaging design and manufacture, call the friendly specialists at Technik Packaging.