Consumers express their likes and dislikes in a new study based on focus group insights about seals and closures.
Great strides have been made in sealing technology, enabling consumers to more easily access products-and allowing manufacturers to more creatively market their products. One of the most significant innovations in sealing technology has been the conversion from metal can end to metal ring pull. Other improvements in foil and paper sealing also exist. In this article we will discuss consumer perception of recent sealing innovations as well as a new sealing technology, BAP (Bonded Aluminum Laminate to Plastic), which is now available through Aptar (www.aptar.com). The material presented here is largely gathered through consumer research recently conducted by NSM Research Inc. (www.nsmresearch.com) in the U.S. & UK.
The “in-market” innovation clearly providing meaningful value for consumers and differentiating packaging for packagers is the conversion from metal can end to metal ring pull. Both consumers in the U.S. and the UK shared a willingness to pay extra cents or pence for “something which is so much easier to use (than the traditional can end), and does not require a can/tin opener.” Some consumers even limited their brand choice to products offered in a metal ring-pull format. However, even with the largely positive comments, consumers repeatedly expressed frustration with the metal ring pull solution.
Summarizing in consumers’ words, the main issues with metal ring pulls are the following: “The momentum necessary to get the last part totally off is excessive – sometimes resulting in serious cuts…my daughter had to get stitches! The ring breaks off and then there’s no contingency plan… If you pull too hard, especially towards the end, liquid flies out and product is everywhere!”
Verbatims and video attest to these issues and especially to the many times consumers - or their children - have cut themselves while using the metal ring pull. Other sealing formats have also caught consumers’ attention. In the UK, Duerr’s jams introduced the Orbit™ closure from Crown Closures Europe (www.crowncork.com). When presented with jam jars sporting this new closure, consumers expressed reservations at being able to easily open the jar. They were pleasantly surprised at the ease of opening and the reduced torque necessary to remove the closure. Innovations in foil, such as the Emerald Nuts canister, have also garnered favorable consumer reviews. Diamond’s rigid plastic container provides a reclosable, pourable alternative to nuts in bags, and gets consumer points for its easy-open foil.
However, not all lining solutions were viewed so positively. Consumers commented that foil liners on several products presented during the research were too hard to open, with a hard-to-find removal tab and liners that needed to be removed in strips. Innovations such as scoop-in-lid, featured on products such as infant formula, are appreciated for their hygiene and convenience features; however, the foil liners on these products were seen as laborious to remove, requiring multiple strips of foil to be painstakingly peeled away… a significant negative characteristic, especially in a category containing time-pressed parents of young children.
While sealing innovations elicited both positive and negative reactions, a new sealing solution addresses almost all of the problems previously identified: BAP, which offers excellent seal integrity, built-in tamper evidence, and is polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-, bisphenol-A(BPA)- and melamine-free. The technology can be used across food processes including cold fill, dry fill and retort applications. The all-in-one foil to closure solution also allows easy and safe access to the pull ring and an extremely easy pull-ring removal.
Aptar, a worldwide provider of dispensing closure solutions, has combined its closure know-how with an exclusive North American license for BAP® technology from Bapco Closures (www.bapcoclosures.com) to develop the Sim-Pull Partial Lid closure solution. Sim-Pull demonstrates the BAP technology’s ability to reduce resin requirements for both the closure and container. Aptar worked closely with Graham Packaging (www.grahampackaging.com) to develop a complete package solution. Consumer reaction to Sim-Pull elicited very positive consumer comments: “The lid is brilliant … kid-friendly/no cuts… easy flow … no mess…the ring pull and foil comes off in one piece!” The easy ring-pull access and removability was deemed especially important for children and seniors, removing the not-yet-solved complaint of cutting oneself on metal ring pulls, as well as reducing the force required to remove the liner. Consumers found the lid technology to be aesthetically pleasing, with easy and obvious access to the ring pull. The partial lid provides on-the-go convenience, with one-handed opening, pouring, and a secure “audible click” closing. Hygiene and portability were rated higher than currently available options.
Anju Holay is Managing Principal of NSM Research Inc. (www.nsmresearch.com). NSM conducts consumer focus groups, online discussion boards, surveys, sensory testing and quantitative consumer product testing. She can be reached at 847-912-6398 or firstname.lastname@example.org.