Sunday, June 14, 2009

Product Design Q&A

Following on from Origin Oman's recent Product Design & Packaging Workshop - here's a 5 minute Q&A with Peter Ford of De Montfort University one of the Workshop presenters.

How has packaging evolved?

Approaches to packaging are as varied as the products they contain. The nature of packaging has to relate closely to what is being packaged, in many cases there is little need to think beyond basic protection; the packaging of potatoes for example; however this is not always the case. New materials, new processes and new analysis techniques have revolutionized the industry, for example quadroseal foil packs can be much more effective for the packaging of many products (sweets for example) than cardboard packaging. For success stories look at Quadraseal packs and of course Tetrapak.

Does packaging push up prices?

'Clever, innovative' packaging should not necessarily push up the price. Poor packaging could however lower the perceived value of the product or conversely complement or enhance the perceived value of the product; you wouldn't expect to buy Chanel No5 in a paper bag.

How packaging conscious are consumers?

The level of the packaging should always complement the product; and iPod is a clever smart piece of product design, the consumer will expect an appropriate level of packaging. There may be some occasions when the consumer is more attracted to the packaging than the product contained (a sweet dispenser for example (PEZ)), but generally speaking, if the consumer is unhappy with the product both product and packaging are wasted. However, if the packaging is poor but the consumer still purchases the product and the product is good then the packaging will simply be forgotten. The shame would be if a consumer is deterred from purchasing a good product because the packaging is poor.

Is there a 'packaging matrix' that simplifies the packaging process?

Interesting; I don't know of one other than that gained through experience, although there are a growing number of eco-tools becoming available for designers, tools that provide a checklist to a designer to map the eco/carbon footprint of their creations.

Today’s consumer is more eco-conscious and price-sensitive. How is the packaging industry adapting to this change in thinking?

It is generally seen as an opportunity rather than a threat and is giving rise to quite a growth in eco-orientated packaging. It can be seen as a marketing tool.

Packaging adds to the waste stream. How major a contributor is it?

Again I don't know to be honest but it will be a significant proportion. Further to what I said earlier, 'eco' also relates to recycling, re use and sustainability. A healthy, global approach to environmental issues will reduce waste.

Toxic materials used in packaging, despite laws restricting the use of heavy metals, add to environmental pollution. How serious is the problem?

This also relates to one of the earlier questions on environmental issues, there has to be a responsible attitude to waste management, manufacturers must be made responsible for the disposal of their goods after their usable life.

Under-packaging isn’t good but over-packaging is worse. What’s the right balance?

The right balance is the most appropriate balance of the design criteria. This will largely depend on experience and measured approach to prototyping testing and evaluation prior to a product launch.

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