We recently toured a Pacific Northwest company that manufactures products for the outdoor recreational industry. Great company with a strong track record of designing and supplying world class products for almost three decades. They have a diverse customer base including big box retailers, world’s largest eCommerce retailer, outdoor specialty stores, and also ship direct to customers.
Their packaging design is largely driven by their largest retail customers who face the challenge of shrinkage (loss?) of product within the distribution network and at the retail level. To prevent this loss, the retailers require clamshell packaging to deter theft. Some of these bigger retail customers have a public initiatives to drive sustainable packaging practices and to minimize waste. The original manufacturer is caught in the middle between their primary customers (retailers) and the end customers (us) that get frustrated with difficult to open packaging. Instead of rethinking process improvement to minimize the loss, difficult to open packaging remains the norm.
To drive sustainable packaging, we typically advise consumers to contact the original manufacturer to provide feedback on their packaging methods. Have also recommended that consumers use their “wallets” and buy products that reflect their preferences on sustainable packaging. After this tour of the original manufacturer, we are now rethinking this. Consumers should also provide feedback to the big box retailers as well at the original manufacturers. Sometimes things are a bit more complicated than they seem until you dig a deeper and get a different perspective.
Next time you get frustrated with the packaging of the product you recently purchased, provide feedback to the big retailers as well as the original manufacturer to promote change. The power to create change still rests with the consumer. Let’s help the big box and eCommerce retailers to align their packaging requirements with their public stance.