Design

Is your packaging ‘frustration free’?

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I had to buy a new mouse for my wife’s laptop and ended up buying the Logitech Mini. At Rs.640/- (approx $14) it was a good bargain. And it looked pretty good, what with India tricolours and all.

The problem started with the simple task of opening the pack. Frankly, I didn’t know where to start and an ordinary pair of scissors was of no use when I tried to cut it open. After several cuts emanating out of the sharp, thick plastic, I decided to use a cutter or a Swiss Army knife. After a good 20 minutes, I managed to yank out of the mouse and the package looked as if it had got the treatment from a bull terrier.

This is not the first time I have struggled with packaging especially those of gadgets – I remember buying the Windows 7 pack and staring at it for a good 5 minutes to figure out where to start. I couldn’t help comparing these experiences with those of Apple products. The packaging design of Apple products is known to be minimal…aesthetically pleasing. But its more than that – its about ease of use. The Magic Mouse for example was just this:

The Magic Mouse my cost several times more than the Logitech one – but it was totally worth it. I guess this aspect of packaging – the unboxing part, is the one where manufacturers need to pay more attention. All the effort seems to be on the aesthetics, the visual appeal. According to a New York Times article (hat tip to @chupcap for sending this):

Amazon has been trying to get manufacturers to adopt “frustration-free packaging” that gets rid of plastic cases and air-bubble wrap — major irritants for consumers and one of Amazon’s biggest sources of customer complaints.

I can understand caution when it comes to packaging especially for online delivery – the stuff has to stay in tact. But with stuff picked off the shelf like the Logitech mouse, do they have to resort to such extreme measures and make the first interaction with the product an unpleasant one?

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10 Comments

  1. Yeah. How I've struggled with some of the logitech type packaging. Like they packed a nuclear device or something.

    Apple is leagues ahead. Leagues. Simple, elegant, minimalistic. In look and design and mechanics of opening/closing.

    That kinda stuff needs a design culture in the company.

    I wonder if they use their own products?

    If they did, they'd know.

  2. Couldn't agree with you more. Most of the packaging (and not just electronic goods) in the market is cumbersome and wasteful. I sometimes wonder if we even take it as a science.

  3. Simple Message – " Once opened it cannot be resealed". The consumer ( especially the Indian consumer being very finicky and suspicious) knows for sure that the bought product has not been in use before as a "Demo Piece".

  4. vijay koshy Reply

    Well the packaging woes are its not restricted to tech related prodts but also stuff on the dining table. I salute the wizard who can open a pack of amul butter kept at buffets.

  5. Same issue with the targus mouse I bought last week.

    No clue where to open and finally i took scissors and cropped at the top. 🙂

  6. Fred Schechter Reply

    Ok, so I've got a point to make. When other packaging has to deal with thing like planograms/lowest cost/lower volume production runs/non-home run-Apple products like the magic mouse, a whole host of additional problems crop up.
    While the magic mouse is a beautiful piece, it is designed to sit out on it's own, and you're "brought your own" from the back of the apple store. Typical stores do not provide that luxury. As a packaging designer, comparing a product I have to hang on a peg in an appointed area with the smallest amount of money possible while being directed to use a surlyn clamshell (that's the material of doom that locks your product in a finger slicing death grip).
    The real issue is changing the way stores are merchandised, which, at this point in time, is rather unlikely, but a reasonable direction to go for real change in this arena.
    Apple doesn't have to, and doesn't play by the rules. Kudos to them, they do an amazing job in their closed ecosystem they've built. For the rest of us, we're playing along with everyone else's rules. It's fun when we get to break them,, but it always costs somewhere when we do.

  7. so true… i had a tough time with the sony charger kit…

    all this trouble inspite of having so many ways of self locking mechanisms..

  8. This thing implies for the Parker pens also. Last week i had bought a Parker pen, it took almost good 15-20 minutes before i could open that. Tried everything..Scissors..knives..all in vain.

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