Changes in packaging design can be done for a variety of reasons, including:
A single design change can affect all three areas. While cost reduction is also an important incentive, if any of these three areas is somehow compromised, the redesign has failed.
So, I noticed after opening a box of Yoplait yogurt I purchased at Costco that the container design had changed after so many years (some online research indicated about twenty). For those of you unfamiliar with the old design, you can do a Google image search.
Here’s how the redesign looks:
Very little has changed except our visual perception of the shape and lid (peel off). But positively perceived improvements in the next two areas can affect the appeal/desirability of the brand.
Big improvement. With a curved shape, you can see the spoon can more easily pickup the yogurt. Also, the lip now faces outward. Over many years (and I’m sure all of us can relate), I’ve twisted the cup with my spoon under the inward-facing lip, trying to get that last little bit of yummy strawberry (or your flavor of choice). Finally, a peel off lid (not shown) quickens the opening process, in comparison to the foil lid there was before.
Perhaps General Mills (parent company) was able to reduce the amount of Polystyrene plastic for this 6oz. cup, but I’m not sure. However, the graphics are now printed on a paper label which completely wraps around the cup. If someone believes printing on the plastic like before would be preferable, please leave a comment. This does add a new aspect to the supply chain which should be accounted for in the lifecycle scenario analysis.
[UPDATE: Erik left a comment saying the redesign only affected the value packs sold at club stores]
One very huge sustainable advantage with this redesign involves its disposal and effect on nature. Plastic aside, I found from some older articles online that the previous cup’s lip combined with the wider base, and narrower top, had contributed to many wild animals getting their heads trapped inside. If you Google “Yoplait skunk”, you’ll see what I mean. In any case, the inward facing lip acting on the natural design of fur and its direction on the body created a locking mechanism seriously inhibiting animals from simply shaking their heads or trying to pull it off (We can’t expect critters to be that smart can we?). What disturbed me a little was in reading this article, it pointed to studies by the Humane Society and complaints against General Mills coupled with calls for redesign action…back around 1998 (Yikes!).
All in all, I think it’s a great example of how a redesign can improve a product’s performance across these three areas. My only additional recommendation is that General Mills add some copy on the label: “Please Recycle”.