While I was grabbing some tuna at Kroger the other day, I passed by the Chef Boyardee products. The yellow and red violator encircling the top of the cans caught my attention: “Easy Open Lids Are Back!

In 2013, the pasta brand took away the pop-top lids, but ConAgra quickly brought them back in 2014 after realizing it had disappointed fans by removing them from the packaging, making customers reach for their can openers.

“Consumer feedback has always been important to us and our fans spoke loud and clear when we removed pop top lids,” said Mike Buick, Chef Boyardee brand director. “We’re excited to bring these easy open lids back and hope their return gives our fans one more great reason to buy Chef Boyardee."

As the pop top lids returned to shelf, the brand decided to have a fun spreading the word and ran a cheeky campaign that gave a platform to those who were sad to see the easy-open cans were again gracing shelves. Note: If it’s not clear, there is no such customer. Everyone loves convenience.

And to that point, let’s consider some points on convenient packaging, which ranges from the closure system to single-serve items to quick-preparation products and more—basically, whatever makes lives easier and more simple. Follow the links for full articles to learn more on the matter.

1. Customers want it, but they don’t want to pay a whole lot more for it.

““The key is to find that ‘sweet spot’ where the added cost doesn’t overpower the convenience factor for consumers,” says Peter Clarke, president of Fairfield, Conn.-based Product Ventures.”

2. Convenience packaging is for lifestyles at all price points, from the C-store patron to the luxury product user.

Whether it's a grab-and-go product or part of a daily routine, convenience features can fit the bill in connecting with consumers.

“We listen to and watch what we want when we want via streaming music and video services,” says Scott Jost, vice president of innovation and design, Berlin Packaging. “We walk into dealerships with the car we want already spec’d out, down to the color of the seat stitching. Why would we expect anything less than customized skincare?”

3. Designing inspired convenience packaging features can challenging but possible.

“As designers, it is our goal to bring innovation to the masses,” says Scott Fisher, the design director at Blue Clover Studios. “We do this by marrying creativity and functionality, so consumers can enjoy inspired products that make life better or easier. Designing for the masses often comes with the challenge to please everyone. We know that locating the sweet spot between what is imaginable and what is manufacturable can be a challenging place to find, but it is where really spectacular things happen.”

4. If your brand has a convenience feature on the packaging, be sure to call attention to it.

Have you ever cut into a package only to realize after that it was resealable but no call-out told you about it? Don't annoy your customers by not making the added feature obvious, especially when it comes to food products.

"The most consistently valued pack innovations are those that tie to product freshness," says Scott Young, president of PRS IN VIVO. "For innovations to truly resonate with consumers, they need to provide tangible functional benefits and solve a perceived problem. Without question, the problem we hear about most frequently from consumers is wasted product. When people can’t fully use what they’ve purchased (because it has gone stale, or perhaps a pack has broken), it is an understandable source of frustration. Thus, we’ve consistently found that pack resealability resonates because it directly impacts the price/value equation. Pack innovations such as Chips Ahoy! Snack’n Seal and Maxwell House Flavor Lock Pack have had a direct positive impact on sales."

5. There is a group that may frown on brands’ use of convenience packaging.

Those that are heavily interested in sustainability may be viewing your single-serve structures and quick-prep products as wasteful, depending on the material and product, so be careful when trying to reach those customers. Even products such as Reynolds’ new plant-based Heat & Eat disposable containers may not fly with this group, though the general public will be more receptive. 

If you are targeting a group where eco-friendly choices and green packaging are important, put good thought into your material choice and be upfront with why your brand considers the packaging sustainable. 

“Our definition of sustainability is that the manufacturing of consumer goods causes harm,” says Rick Ridgeway, VP of environmental initiatives at Patagonia. “There’s no way around that. Making stuff is going to have an impact. The mission, in addition to being a tool for environmental protection, is also to make the best product we can, and to make that product with no unnecessary harm, either to society or to the environment.”

Read more on Patagonia’s product and packaging strategy as a jump start for your brand. 

In Conclusion

Packaging structures with added features that benefit customers can help your brand be chosen at the shelf. Weigh the options, listen to customer feedback and points of frustration with current packaging (of your own brand and competitors), and if you have an convenience-adding point of difference on your packaging, let customers know!