Okay, you’ve melted your brain sifting through pages of products, and plodded through the online checkout process. For too many products these days, the pain of shopping doesn’t have to stop there; the next step may involve a blowtorch or hiring a safe cracker: opening the packaging.
The delivered package looks so much larger than you expected, but when you lift it your arms fly up from the unanticipated lightness. A fleeting thought that it may be empty crosses your mind as you bring it inside.
The Outer Fortifications
Easily or not, a sharp implement shreds the tape of the cardboard box. Possibly, amid various inflated plastic bladders, rough paper or accursed styrofoam pellets, you discover… another box?
The Inner Sanctuary
Like a cardboard babushka doll, you remove the second box and jam the packing material back into the outer box. Opening the second box reveals something shiny: a sealed clamshell.
The Plastic Force Field of Doom
You turn the object around in your hands, like some scientist pondering an alien artifact with no visible opening. You can SEE the product you ordered but it’s still somehow as unreal to you as the picture on the website. In the attempt to penetrate the sinister packaging solution, you graduate through various tools: from scissors to a knife, a pit stop for band-aids, then on to gardening shears, and finally a hacksaw. Voila!
Careful of the razor-like edges, you pry the mangled clamshell from the product to discover a series of wires and tabs shackling your product to a cardboard rack. Beware! The rack may have hidden compartments with complicated interlocking flaps to protect its secret payload, concealed so well that vital parts like power cords or adapters may wind up in the trash along with all of the twisty-ties and the tatters of the product manual (a casualty of the vigorous use of the garden shears). It may also have decoys: “plastic spacer or necessary component,” can you be sure? Hmmm.
Side Note: one of the best tools for opening heat-sealed clamshell or oyster packaging… is a can opener!
Answering the Call
The two biggest reasons for these buyer-unfriendly packaging solutions that test both human strength and ingenuity are protection from shipping damage and shoplifting. The second is somewhat ironic for online-only giant Amazon.com, which has already launched a Frustration-Free Packaging certification program as well as a related community section and customer rating system.
Other companies are finally answering the call (or curses) of customers, cutting down on the amount of packaging and their impenetrability to minimize waste and consumer rage.
The bag a shopper carries around can often be a big part of a brand, and some companies and groups take this to a whole “nother” level. All of these concepts are obviously clever, and most have high shock value, but they all convey unique messages.