Full of beans

The coffee company was going through a rough patch – no one was purchasing its coffee anymore. So, to revitalise the business, the managing director decided that he would produce a top-quality premium product that would appeal to the coffee cognoscenti.

To help out, he called in an influential coffee expert, who imported bags of beans from far-flung places around the globe, after which he meticulously produced a blend that he felt assured would undoubtedly catch the fancy of the target market.

To ensure that his assumptions were correct, the managing director decided to hold an extensive series of taste-testing sessions at several very expensive London restaurants where members of the public were invited to sample and then comment on the new blend that the expert had created.

The exercise was a resounding success. The public loved the new coffee and the managing director felt sure that it would be an unquestionable triumph once it had been introduced to the market.

But the managing director also realised that simply producing a superior coffee would not be enough to ensure that his products flew off the shelves at a premium price. No, he also had to ensure that the packaging of the product reflected the fact that his coffee was far superior to those of his competitors.

With that in mind, he hired a specialist packaging house and chartered the folks there to create a glass jar that would be a testimony to the quality of the coffee that the consumer was likely to find inside it.

The packaging designers worked many long hours but eventually they came up with a design that delighted the managing director.

To create the impression that the coffee in the jar was of superior quality, they had developed a tight fitting plastic seal on the lid of the jar, cleverly conveying the impression that the coffee inside was, and could be kept, as fresh as possible at all times.

The coffee finally made it onto the shelves of national supermarket chains. Sadly though, after a highly successful launch, sales started to decline dramatically. Naturally, the managing director was troubled, so he called in a consumer expert who duly held a series of meetings with the public to get to the bottom of the issue.

While the consumers all agreed that the coffee was immensely enjoyable, getting it out of the jar was another matter entirely. They complained that the lid was so tightly fitting, that any attempts they made to remove the lid from the jar resulted in much of the coffee being spilt on the floor.

Needless to say, the managing director hired a new team of creative individuals to redesign the packaging and, having done so, the coffee is now selling well again. But next time he engages in such an exercise, he has vowed to pay as much attention to the design of the packaging of his product as he does to the consumable that is inside it.

Dave Wilson
Editor, Engineeringtalk

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