May 12, 2010
by Julie Saunders
One of the major open-ended challenges faced by CPG (consumer packaged goods) companies today is conveying an accurate sense of what’s inside that package through effective use of package graphics and colors.
Which is all very well—except for the visually-challenged segment of the consumer public. No problem, though, for Johnson & Johnson’s Band-Aid Brand Adhesive Bandages Sheer Comfort Flex 60-piece boxes, which have recently started using the Braille alphabet to spell out the word ‘band-aid’ across the upper half of the carton’s front panel. This just seems like such a perfectly ingenious way of labeling the package that I’m actually surprised that I haven’t seen it—or felt it, rather—before. Good on J&J for doing this, and I truly hope that more and more CPG companies will follow its lead in making life just a tad easier for the visually-impaired consumers.
Another company dong a commendable job of catering to a wider audience is the Old South juice-processing business of McCain Foods (Canada), with its space-saving 350-ml containers of Premium 100% Pure Frozen Concentrated Apple Juice outfitted with easy-to-open plastic tabs that smoothly pull off right to the very end, without ever snapping off prematurely. Frozen juice concentrates have long been one of those frustrating products held back by unduly stubborn packaging, so this bit of consumer-friendly innovation is a very welcome development. And the fact that you can also dethaw these little metal-free boxes in the microwave has really sealed the deal for this satisfied juice fan.
After being instantly drawn to the tins of President’s Choice Memories of South Africa Rooibos Citrus Spice Loose Leaf Herbal Tea—with their gracefully lush, green images of a majestic tree showing off its natural splendor in the midst of the African savannah—I found my initial enthusiasm for both the product and packaging wear off rather quickly afterwards. In fact, the design of the tin and its super-tight lidding had me spilling some of the loose-packed
tea-leaves explosively all over the place when struggling to open the tin the first couple times—with great risk to my fingernails. Definitely not a good way to package loose product such as tea-leaves, despite the nice picture. In contrast, the Tetley White Tea – Raspberry canisters seem to be perfectly designed for loose-leaf tea—with an ergonomically correct, snug-fitting lid featuring a nice deep rim all around the circumference for ultimate ease-of-opening. But as irony would have it, of course, the canisters are instead used to retail 20 pre-packaged tea-bags instead. Nothing wrong with that, but it just feels like there’s a decent packaging opportunity out there going begging.
If imitation is the height of flattery, cereal powerhouse Kellogg Canada Inc. can take much pride in the company’s high-selling Vector Meal Replacement product line, with the Loblaws private-label store brand, President’s Choice Force Active Meal Replacement, also adopting most of the key package design elements for its own 850-gram boxes. Carrying a very similar color scheme of bluish tones and striking red accents, the Force Active Meal Replacement box is also all about
capturing the sense of motion on its packaging with the clean-lined font leaning to the right side, the photograph of running athletes trailed by a motion blur, and the cereal looking like it is being blown right out of its bowl by some mysterious but vigorous force.
As the remnants of winter continue to drag on to test the limits of everybody’s patience, the thoughts of summer can often be enhanced with a pleasant discovery of new product packages offering some of Mother Nature’s finest, if not immediately recognized, vegetable creations. On this account, the The Toby Brand Cookin’ Greens Chopped Rapini fits the bill perfectly.
Not only is this U.S.-grown product a fairly rare sight at the Canadian supermarkets’ freezer sections, the playful packaging does a nice job of conveying the message of fun for this fairly unfamiliar, broccoli-like vegetable, with a nice hint of nutty bitterness providing a tasteful culinary departure from the more conventional frozen greens. The casual spelling of the product in a funky font on the package dispels any subconscious notion that this vegetable will be difficult to cook, with the interesting product facts and information on the back offering a richness of fun facts about a “sensory journey that is luscious and earthy.” Who wouldn’t love a package that has that much raw enthusiasm?
For its part, the President’s Choice brand of Dine-in Tonight frozen foods is less about fun and much more about function—with the big, bold all-caps black lettering carrying a fairly austere graphic representation of the packaged food products being cooked and served in a white dinnerware on a stark-white background. However, the choice of unconventional packaging for the brand’s Porcini and Truffle Tortelloni variety—an upright paperbox, rather than the standard plastic pillow-bag—does an effective job of catching the consumer’s curiosity, which is ultimately the main point of the whole exercise. Similarly, seeing the E
mmental Cheese Soufflé entrée in the grocer’s freezer section is also a refreshing departure in terms of offering consumers an interesting meal option, with the 450-gram sand-up pouch containing all the handy preparation instructions on the back for making your soufflés as large or as small as you want it to be.
Julie Saunders is the director of interactive media at InViVo Communications Inc., a developer of media-based healthcare services based in Toronto.