The Importance of Consistent Packaging

A small startup called Pop Box has been starting to get their new product in retail channels and it’s pretty interesting: microwave popcorn in a pop-up box. Better yet, it even tastes good and the convenience benefits of having popcorn in a ready-to-eat dispenser should be immediately obvious, particularly if you’ve ever had to eat out of a popped bag of popcorn and get your hands greasy from the oils.

The problem is, they’ve gone to market a bit too fast and they’ve introduced some very baffling inconsistency to their packaging on an element that’s core to their pitch: calories per serving.

Here’s the box and envelope so you can see what I mean:

pop box microwave popcorn inconsistent calorie count packaging fail

Now I know the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” but I think getting your core product values consistent across both your shelf packaging and in-box packaging is pretty darn important, not foolish at all.

There is also some irony that the company uses a tag line that’s a play on “think outside the box” and then ends up failing to think about what’s in the box, but that’s another story.

Worse, the Food and Drug Administration cares a lot about getting things like nutrition information correct on consumer packaged goods. The Brookings Institute has a cautionary research paper on the topic, stating that “Since 2011, consumer advocacy groups and plaintiffs have filed more than 150 food labeling class action lawsuits against food and beverage companies.” Products on that list include products such as Naked Juice, Fruit Roll-Ups, Bear Naked Granola, and Wesson Oil, to name a few.

To be fair, a lot of those lawsuits are about misuse of “natural” and “healthy” and “low-fat” and similar claims, but if you were Pop Box, would you want to risk being hit with a fine – or required to pull your product from the shelf – because of a gaffe in product design?

Foolish consistency indeed.


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