Souped-up packaging to extend ease of use can’t reach all brands at once, says Nestlé

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Better, Nestlé

Souped-up packaging to extend ease of use can’t reach all brands at once, says Nestlé
Nestlé says it is investing in further training for its industrial designers in the Cambridge University ‘Inclusive Design’ approach, to accelerate packaging modifications across its brand portfolio to ensure ease of use for consumers of all ages.

2011 saw upgrades along these lines to Nestlé’s Nescafé Gold and Boost brands in the beverage category, where the former improvement saw the food firm – at its Product and Technology Centre in Orbe, Switzerland – feed consumer insights into a new ‘easy-to-hold’ jar that retained the old jar shape as a “key brand asset”​, but included a ‘click-and-lock’ screw cap and an ‘easy peelable’ foil membrane.

Across the Atlantic, US brand Boost – a nutritional drink range targeted at seniors – was also overhauled last February, (before and after packs are pictured). Improvements include an ‘easy-to-grip’ bottle and an ‘easy-to-open’ cap without an inner foil seal.

But asked why Nestlé was on record as stating that it was adapting “some”​ products to ensure maximum use without difficulty for consumers of all ages, rather that its entire range, Chris Hogg, Nestlé’s deputy head of corporate media relations told

“There is continuous process of renovation of our packaging, based on a number of factors. They can’t all be improved at once. We are currently rolling-out more training for all our industrial designers in the ‘Inclusive Design’ approach which should lead to more improvements of the kind detailed in our news release in the months and years ahead.”

Inclusive design approach

Inclusive Design is an approach developed by academics at the University of Cambridge – that recognises the potential all design decisions have to include or exclude consumers, and aims to encourage more inclusive product designs – an approach adopted by Nestlé when it partnered the institution in 2009.

Nestlé said it also aimed to make its products safe to use, maintain their freshness, provide consumer instructions that were easy to understand and minimise waste.

Quizzed as to whether any new packaging beyond Nescafé and Boost was in the pipeline, Hogg said: “Another good example would be the cap on the Thomy mayonnaise tube, which was redesigned for ease of opening and closing. We are always looking at our packaging across all our products and brands, including beverages to see if there are ways in which we can improve it.”

In light of Nestlé’s attention to advantages such as easy-grip bottles, and lack of foil membranes to improve packaging usability, we asked Hogg what other technologies or production methods was the firm developing or using?

“The kinds of adaptions we look at are ease of opening and closing, ease of understanding (not just the size of characters but colours and pictures). We are always looking at new ways of doing this. We are also working on a simple benchmarking tool for ‘Inclusive Design’ that will help us in the development process,”​ he said.

Perfection or affordability?

Value is obviously a key factor in packaging design, since it is no use developing the perfect package at too high a cost for mass production, and asked whether this dictated packaging choice, Hogg said it was “too simplistic to suggest that the choice was perfection or affordability”​; Nestlé always looked for the best design solution that made business sense.

Scientists at Georgia Tech Research Institute in Atlanta have developed special gloves that help people understand the impact of arthritis on sufferers, and a pair is now being used by Nestlé in Australia to positively impact packaging design.

The company said it had tested the gloves with five of its most popular products, to simulate the impact of the disease on arthritis sufferers’ movement and strength. This led to the launch of an Accessibility Benchmarking Scale with charity Arthritis Australia, which Nestlé said now helped firms predict how people would use their packaging.

And given quotes published on Nestlé’s website from 41-year-old Australian and arthritis sufferer Wendy Favorito, indicating that easy-opening packaging increased product appeal, Hogg said Nestlé was aware of the extent to which such factors could add value to a product category.

He said:“This is an issue we take into account when working on a redesign or new design. We work with analysis tools that help us to calculate how many additional consumers will be able to access the new packaging.”

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