Are you Dir. of Consumer research? Let me save you money!

Everyone that has worked in any job in any field has done some time banging their head on a desk, counter or lift. As a public service here are a few topics you don’t need to do research on anymore, ever. Done. Finished.

1) That plastic packaging for cheap products that require an arc-wielder to get through. I cant even remember why it was invented. I think it was supposed to help reduce shoplifting and such. On one of my projects some time ago I was videotaping a shadow interview which included a woman trying to get into one of these packages. I remember showing it to a packaging engineer at the time. In the video she is using a butcher knife to try to hack the package open. She even explicitly states that she once cut herself doing this this. No, not cut herself with the knife, but on the plastic of the blasted package. The engineer suggested a larger project to determine the extent of the problem. Indeed. Let me make this simple: if someone needs a 16 inch hunk of carbon steel to get to your product thats BAD. If you see a video showing someone hacking into it and also complaining about being cut by the packaging itself, thats BAD. You really don’t need anymore research. Kind of like you only need one exploding Ford Pinto to know that somethings up. Let me save you a couple of hundred grand in research, find a new solution, this dog don’t hunt.

2) Its a simple consumer cooking product. One that you can find in Home Depot, Target, Sears all the usual places. There is an accessory sold for it, often including the phrase “universal mount.” In the instructions, it tells the purchaser that if the “universal mount” doesn’t fit, the purchaser should purchase and use (in this case assumed to be the average homeowner) a cobalt drill-bit and industrial grade drill to get through the cast-iron casing. Ok, in case you don’t realize it, if the instructions included with your product have the words “cobalt” or “industrial” you have strayed far, far away from the consumer product category.

3) Please, please quit ignoring the original problem. My god, do you know how much R&D money can be saved with this little rule? Back when I started in this business, I was often asked to do more evaluative kind of work. Your classic bug hunt, whats wrong and what are people saying about whats wrong. I can’t tell you how common it is for someone to say “but we know about those problems, you are supposed to uncover NEW ones.” My response was that if you knew about those problems and chose not to fix them, its hardly a moment of pride. I realize it may seem a strange phenomena but people are funny: if they have an issue with something, and you don’t fix it, they don’t forget about it over time. Instead, they are just reminded of this basic flaw each time they use your product.

3 thoughts on “Are you Dir. of Consumer research? Let me save you money!

  1. I have often wondered about your first point. I have cut myself several times opening such packaging. A few months ago I spoke to a packaging consultant about this and she also stated that she constantly advices her clients to stay away from this type of packaging yet they still go with it. I often wonder if this “green” movement might be what finally convinces them to stop using this horrible plastic and switch to a more environmentally friendly paper type package.

  2. I wonder if implementing that type of packaging really ever had the desired “security” affect for any of the companies that chose to go in that direction? Just curious as to why they would choose to use the packaging even against the warnings.

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