Acceptance vs. Indifference for Packaging Research Studies

July 15, 2015

Acceptance vs. Indifference for Packaging Research Studies

By Monica Boudreaux, Product Ventures Senior Consumer & Market Research Manager 

If you’ve been involved in qualitative packaging research studies, you may have come across the dreaded moment when a respondent utters, “but I don’t really care about the packaging.”  While this respondent may be key to some initiatives, focused on trying to overcome their apathy with eye-catching designs or new value-added packaging features, their presence in other phases of the development process may not always be fruitful.

With the first consumer touch-points of a packaging project—particularly developmental steps—you want to make the most of your time with the qualitative sample of consumers you interact with.  If packaging is not important to them, or if they feel it is a “waste” of effort and cost, they may lack the necessary openness and will not be as engaged in discussing the possibilities.  The  precious time with them becomes spent on overcoming barriers, rather than generating delighters.  So where do you place your priorities?

One way to ensure conversations are focused on uncovering packaging opportunities is to recruit “packaging acceptors” …or simply, people that do not mind talking about packaging and see some value in it.  There are many ways to go about this; all with the intention of making sure your time is spent building on packaging opportunities and not defending them.  For example, in screening you could include a battery of attitudinal statements with an agreement scale, including things like:  “I find that the packaging of products can add value to the product inside” or “The packaging of products tends to catch my attention in the store”…finding those that agree.  Or “I feel that packaging adds extra unnecessary cost to the product”…finding those that disagree.

Now, this is not to say we never want to speak with those individuals that are indifferent to packaging or those that do not care about it at all.  They would just need to be approached differently and perhaps most effectively once ideas have been developed, depending on the goals of the initiative.  The packaging “acceptors” can help to develop the package design ideas, and the folks who are packaging “uninterested” can be valuable to evaluate the ideas and understand whether packaging can potentially attract them.  All are important—they just need to be invited at the right time with the right stimulus.

But perhaps you see value in the packaging naysayers early on in the process and for development.  Maybe there is a unique insight they bring to the design & development process.  Can they somehow turn up the creativity on design?  Has anyone found success in this?