Packaging RE-Design — Part I : The Observations

Yesterday, we took a class trip to Hanaford Supermarkets to do some in-person product research in order to more successfully redesign a consumer good.  My group focused on convenience pasta and rice goods.

Right away I knew that we had to look in the Hispanic, Asian and Italian sections of the aisle — stereotype number 1 — for our products.

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Convenience foods aisle at Hannaford Supermarkets Oneonta, NY

Another general observation that my group made was that all of the brand names were at eye-level (more or less for the average woman), also noticing that the level of convenience-type packaging decreased the farther down the shelves went.  At the eye-lever we noted several commonalities: the use of red in a banner format (except Uncle Ben’s, which was 100% orange), most of the convenience products were in a cardboard box (for non-Asian rice, and pasta), there was a large image of the product either uncooked or cooked, and the overall packing looked cheap (as in in-expensive materials).  The cheapest products came from the cheapest packaging, for example the pasta with “cheese” sauces were in foil-lined packet-like containers and they were $0.88 each, whereas the cardboard packages ranged from $1.00 to upwards of $4.00!  The most expensive products by far were the ones that included a plastic bowl (convenience!).

In terms of design, none of the packages were really innovative in any way.  There were basically 4 types of packing substrates (i.e. materials): cardboard, plastic, foil-lined paper, SOME of it was a combination.  We are familiar with the college-student friendly Kraft mac n cheese microwaveable cup– this is an example of dual packaging because the bowls are stacked and bound together by cardboard.  Of those made of a single substrate there was little to no embellishment.

If there was not a photo on the packaging of the product (cooked or uncooked), then there was a little window for the consumer to be able to see the product.  We really liked this feature, but didn’t feel that it was innovative.

We also felt that some of the materials were harder to read from than others.  The shiny plastic and packet-like products were hardest to read.  I think this has to do with the angle of the fluorescent lights hitting the products, as well as the shapes made form the products (the foil packets are playable and therefore crinkle making them harder to read, etc.).

In terms of typography, there were few variations in typeface; most were an easy-to-read, boring serif font.

Our group wandered down the aisle a bit more to find some packing that we had previously overlooked while doing the initial observations, sop here they are:  Picking up with a little more of the ethnic stereotyping/influence was very apparent with the Ramen noodle section.  Some of the designs look like a direct rip-off of an actual Japanese product, while others had some small hints.  Some of the banners that the logos sat on looked like theory were influenced by traditional architecture.  The more up-scale the product, the more American-ized the packed looked.  The fonts were usually in the style of Japanese characters or calligraphy-like.  Some packages even had Japanese characters on them along with English.

In general, none of the packaging impressed any one because they were all in need of a re-design.

After reading everything that I just said about ALL the other convenience rice and pasta products I would like to point out the ONE exception that we found at the end of our observation.  It was tucked away on the top shelf on one of the edges of our convenience food “territory.”  This package is different from the rest in: color scheme, type, and packaging. The package is great because it’s re-sealabe.  I’m not really sure if I like the black packaging, but I think it works well against all of the red from the competition.  The type and the blue swirl have a sort of whimsy that is inviting at goes against all of the hard angles and straight lines of the boxed packages.  I also LOVED the fact that the back of the package has social media icons.  I just wish it had a QR code to bring you straight to the website.  Overall, this was the best example of a redesigned product.  I googled the Della arborio rice and found the old packaging for comparison.

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The best example of a recognizable re-design of a rice product on the shelves


previous Della arborio rice package

These are the packages that I purchased, but in the end I will just choose one.  On the left is possibly the ugliest packaging that I have ever seen, with that being said, it is a great possibility that I could have great success because how could I possibly make this any uglier?  The right package irritated me because the product is actually vacuum sealed rice inside of a cardboard box.  The box fits the product well, but the fit could be better.  I felt as though, as the actual consumer (because I did buy the product after all in the CONVENIENCE section), it was really INconventient for me to have to deal with my product when I get home.  AND, if you’re going to vacuum seal the product into a perfect brick it might as well fit perfectly as well.  Did I mention that it’s ugly, too?

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The two products that I purchased to develop a re-resigned package for one


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