Clam shells are Great. Clam shells are Evil.

Clam shells are Great. Clam shells are Evil.

Packaging is amazing.

It protects products, informs consumers, helps us build our brand, and looks awesome in the process. High-visibility packaging options  also offer offering a clear way to showcase products and sometimes even reduce materials, too.

Of all the high-visibility packaging out there, the clamshell remains one of the most popular, especially in the case of small electronics, toys,  and household items.

Cutouts in the packaging allow users to test or touch the product before buying, a feature that has been a proven sales-booster.  While concerns about the use of non-recyclable PVC in constructing the containers has fueled some dissent in the past, innovations in sustainable materials help to squelch that issue daily.

Clamshell packages are also an excellent theft deterrent as they can be difficult to open:  not a battle a would-be shoplifter would typically want to fight in the middle of the store he’s trying to rip off.

Then again, the notion of “hard to open” may be fantastic news for loss prevention, but for honest consumers…

…It’s a One Way Ticket to Wrap Rage

Smurfit-Stone’s ReVue packaging is an example of eco-friendly alternatives to traditional clamshells

You know what happens when all you want to do is get that new flash drive out of its packaging, but you can’t find your blowtorch to get through that clear plastic barrier?  Yeah.  That’s wrap rage.

The phenomenon itself has been around long before it had a name,  and the common hate for the condition can be found across the internet from the Washington Post to Wikipedia.  One of the biggest issues for manufacturers and package designers is the subsequent backlash against a product simply because of the packaging.

It became such a great concern for consumers that online retail giant Amazon launched a “frustration-free packaging” movement back in 2008 to fight hard-to-open clamshells, twist ties, and otherwise hard-to-remove packaging features.

Two years later, the company admits roughly only a small fraction of their millions of products are available in frustration free packaging. But, with an average 76% decrease in negative feedback on now “rage-free” products, Amazon has good reason to keep pushing forward with the movement.

How to Find the Perfect Packaging Balance

Frustration aside, the truth remains that high-visibility packaging demand is growing in all directions.  Efforts to quell consumer frustration have included everything from perforating panels for easy access to completely redesigning the package altogether.

Sometimes the clamshell design is kept while other times a new high-visibility option is developed instead.

Balancing raving repeat business against wrap-rage-induced consumer fallout can be a tough act.  Any way you shake it, the time and cost to research, test, design, and deploy a new packaging strategy can be a serious undertaking, but more are finding it a worthwhile investment.

No matter where your packaging is headed, the good news is that advances in technology give designers & product developers more choice and flexibility in innovating the status quo.

Do you have a product that’s been the target of frustrated consumers?  Have you recently redesigned a clamshell or other package to improve on some of its weak points? Drop us a comment & tell us how it went!