Reluctant Black Friday Shoppers
Our family is typically low key on Black Friday avoiding most of the chaos associated with that day. Family tradition for us is to visit our local superstore for free donuts and juice a couple hours after the store opens. This year our vacuum cleaner decided to break down the week before Thanksgiving Day. So we checked the Black Friday advertisement and found a new Eureka vacuum cleaner at a great price.
Once home, the fun part of unpacking, assembling the product, and dealing with the packaging waste starts. Typically I don’t look forward to this. However this time around I was pleased with the product and packaging design. All this thanks to the efforts of some unknown product designer and packaging engineer.
Ease of Unpacking and Assembly
Great packaging starts with providing part protection during shipment from the manufacturer to the end user via the distribution network with minimal amount of packaging materials.
Fortunately companies such as Electrolux Home Care Products, the parent company of Eureka, are beginning to understand this. In a recent New York Times article, The Side Effects of Consumerism: Large Producers and Retailers Cutting Back on Packaging, author Beth Gardner states:
“Across the business world, more companies, mindful of the environment and their bottom lines, are scrutinizing their packaging and cutting the excess. Less packaging means fewer materials to buy and lower shipping costs. The changes can also add up to fewer climate-warming carbon emission and less garbage in landfills.” – Beth Gardner, New York Times Article
Ease of unpacking and access to all the parts and components is also important. Minimal shipping cube is required to minimize shipping and handling costs . Some minor assembly by the end users is typically required and should be accomplished with some relative ease. Job well done by Eureka on the packaging and product assembly design.
Packaging Waste – End of Life Considerations
Consideration should also be given to end of life of packaging materials and ease of disposal by the end customer. Based on current U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Municipal Solid Waste Data, packaging makes up about 30 percent or approximately 75 million tons of the municipal solid waste stream. Based on this EPA data, only 50 percent of packaging waste is recovered. As stated in the New York Times article, companies are beginning to show leadership in developing more sustainable packaging for their products.
Unlike our previous purchase of a vacuum cleaner, the protective materials inside the carton were molded pulp instead of expanded polystyrene (EPS). The EPS materials are typically difficult to recycle and take up significant volume when landfilled. Molded pulp is easily recyclable in most curbside recycling programs and the polyethylene film bags can be recycled at most retailers. Another benefit of the the molded pulp is a high post consumer recycled content.
Beginning With the End in Mind
Our experience with our new vacuum cleaner has been positive thanks to great product and packaging design. We appreciated the ease of unpacking and providing us with the ability to recycle the packaging waste curbside.
First impressions set the tone for your customer perception of your products and brand. Steve Jobs understood this….
“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.” – Steve Jobs
How can your packaging leave a positive experience for your customers?