I often look at my groceries after a trip to the supermarket and wonder why it takes so many boxes to package what I need. Especially when it comes to staple household items that we buy frequently -like cornflakes, spices, sugar, salt, oats, and other things that someone might always keep in stock around the house. Scanning the shelf from box to box, I notice all the package designs and wonder how much money goes into making food products appeal to the customer.
Where does it all get it spent?
Well, as a quick brainstorm…
- Paying the graphic or branding designer who creates the brand identity and makes the box look appealing.
- Paying the printing and production company to make the customized box.
- The money that customers spend at grocery stores buying the product.
In addition to the money, environmental issues are of concern. I can’t begin to imagine how many cardboard boxes I have recycled or thrown away in my lifetime. And everytime it feels like such a waste. Why the constant need to have new boxes?
While many factors come into play in terms of what you buy and why you buy it, one of the things that I think has a big impact in our continually “visually-driven” and image-heavy world is the package design. Big companies will hire designers to rebrand their products to get their product back on the market, attract a different customer group, or be seen as young and “with the times”. All so we can buy more and more boxes. Well what if we replaced disposable packages and boxes with something reusable, something akin to the canvas shopping bags that have become so commonplace to replace plastic bags?
What if rather than buying a new box of cornflakes every time, you had a box that you paid for at a grocery store just once and then kept refilling it? How could we make something that is economically and environmentally friendly attractive to the average person who is not necessarily particularly concerned about those two issues? What if we made the disposable option less attractive? Can branding play a role?
Let’s imagine that we put forth this strategy:
- Rather than having a different package design for every product, the logo and pictures and all the colors that make it look nice would be stripped from the disposable packages. Instead, designers would be hired to make beautiful brand identities and aesthetics for reusable packages. Less money and energy would be used for production, resulting in less emissions.
- The price tag on the products with disposable packages would be raised to be about 3/4 the price of a reusable box. It would be easy to give it a quick thought and say “well, I could buy this cardboard box now for less money and have the convenience of not needing to bring a box with me to the grocery store every time, but I would only need to make a second purchase to end up paying more than the price of one reusable box.” Nothing better than saving a few bucks!
- You would have the option of buying a “multi-package holder”that would have small compartments to fit all the smaller reusable packages and boxes. Convenience all in one carry-on!
Could lack of aesthetics and price differences be enough of a deterrent to push people to unconsciously make environmentally conscious decisions?