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TricorBraun focus groups assess the feel, functionality and appearance of child-resistant closures

TricorBraun Design & Innovation, a leader in package design and development, continued its ongoing series of consumer focus groups on package elements in April with groups that focused their attention on child-resistant closures (CRCs).
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The goal of this continuing research program is to provide the company’s designers with insight into consumer acceptance of and preference for specific packaging elements that will ultimately guide them in developing more innovative custom packaging solutions.

The most recent focus groups asked consumers to respond to a selection of bottles with CRC closures and evaluate them for their  feel in the hand, their functionality and their visual appearance. Each group member was given seven bottles with CRCs that are currently available in the market, all meeting current Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards but each with a different physical structure and decoration. The groups discussed each closure, one after another, as a group and then each participant evaluated the closure on the following  six characteristics:

  • I like the way this closure feels in my palm

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  • It is obvious how to open and close this package

  • I like the way it feels when I open this package

  • I like the way it feels when I close this package

  • I am worried that my child will accidentally be able to open this package

  • I like the way this closure looks (visual design)

At the end of each session participants, in groups of two or three, associated specific descriptive words chosen from a list with a selection of four of the closures. The word list consisted of value terms such as modern, outdated, user-friendly, frustrating, innovative, clunky, etc.

Responses to the closures in the group discussions were specific to each closure. A common reaction across the groups coupled the comfort level of the closure in the hand with the relative ease and comfort of opening it. A closure with a bi-injected soft texture surface, for example, produced specific comments such as “I like the way that feels; I get a better grip with that rubber top.” Closures molded with ribs around the edge for gripping, on the other hand, elicited a variety of negative comments ranging from “it hurts my hand to turn that” to “the ribs aren’t high enough; I can’t get a firm grip.”

A major concern among participants focused on how clearly each closure indicated that it was securely closed, since that would mean the contents were safe from children. Those closures signaling with a clearly audible “click” that they were securely locked were rated higher for being safe from children than those whose security was not as obvious. A number of participants pointed out that the clearly audible closing click was just as valuable for parents with children as it was for those without.

As for reaction to the visual appearance of the closures, bi-color closures, where the instructions and branding contrasted with the background color, were valued higher than monochrome, and graphic opening instructions won out over text instructions. Multiple participants commented “I prefer pictures over words.”

“The primary value of this consumer research initiative,” points out Becky Donner, TricorBraun Vice President of Design and Market Insight, “is that it gives us very clear insight into consumer preferences, emotional reactions and consumer behavior with packaging. That provides invaluable information for our design team which ultimately translates into greater value for our clients.”

The consumer focus groups are conducted throughout the year at TricorBraun’s Design and Innovation Center in Oak Brook, IL in partnership with NSM Research, Inc., a market research group that has assessed consumer preferences for packaging since 1996.

TricorBraun Design & Innovation Group is a business unit of TricorBraun, one of North America’s leading providers of bottles, jars, and other rigid packaging components. The Group’s primary mission is to design, engineer and manage the development, production and delivery of customized rigid packaging solutions for personal care, cosmetics, healthcare, food and beverages and industrial and household chemical products. It is supported by TricorBraun’s more than 40 offices globally, holding one of the largest inventories of rigid packaging components worldwide.

For further information about TricorBraun Design & Innovation, call 630-645-1200 or visit www.tricorbraun.com.

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