If you’ve ever felt frustrated after trying to get a new CD out of its plastic wrapper or a child’s toy free of its hard plastic display shell, you may be suffering from what the British call “wrap rage” – the annoyance and frustration felt due to hard-to-open packaging. But, says a recent article reported by Newhouse News Service, it’s a “condition” that could readily be remedied with help from ergonomics.
According to Joe Angel, publisher of Packaging World, hard to open packaging is a real concern for consumers and manufacturers alike. "It's a big issue, particularly for seniors," Angel told Newhouse News Service, and more and more consumers and other groups are calling for easier-to-open containers.
Laura Bix, assistant professor at Michigan State University’s school of packaging, agrees. A proponent of universal design in packaging, Bix and other packaging researchers would like to see products that can be readily opened by anyone – young or old, regardless of ability. Japan and European countries have already embraced the concept of universal design in packaging, she said, but manufacturers in the United States have been slower to adopt.
If it all sounds silly, consider this: over 200,000 injuries were attributed to household packaging in 2001. Skateboards, in comparison, only logged 86,000 injuries during that same year.
Retailers may be partly to blame for poor packaging design, requesting packaging that deters shoplifters but which also makes it difficult for the purchaser to open the package. And Bix said that consumers may have a hand in the poor packaging design, too. “Consumers expect the packages to hold everyone out until it gets to them, then they want it to open easily," she said.
Still, making the packaging more ergonomically agreeable could benefit more than just the consumer -- it could also have an effect on a product’s market position or even the entire market. According to Bix, when paint manufacturer Sherwin-Williams introduced a plastic paint container with a twist-top cap, making it far simpler for the customer to open, hold, pour and carry than traditional metal paint cans which have to be pried open, the can became a quick hit with buyers and left other paint manufacturers scrambling to copy the paint container’s ergonomic design.
Source: Newhouse News Service