INDUSTRIAL DESIGN | PACKAGE DESIGN
“The polypropylene, recyclable cup easily breaks in half, allowing for flexible feeding options and reducing the need to store half-opened containers in the refrigerator.”– Institute of Packaging Professionals
General Mills approached Product Ventures to explore package design innovations for its pet food brand Blue Buffalo. General Mills’ in-house design team shared sketches that communicated the types of innovations they were exploring for the brand. These designs were incorporated into our team’s creative process for exploring packaging innovation to improve the consumer experience.
The central pain point for consumers was any direct interaction with pet food product. We conducted consumer research with the General Mills team and discovered consumers reported a desire to limit their interaction with pet food for a variety of reasons. Consumers did not like the texture, smell, or “mess” of pet food. Some consumers said they designated a specific utensil that exclusively interacted with pet food product and could not be reused for typical home dining applications. Consumers also reported the pain point of storing opened pet food packaging in the fridge, since the serving size was larger than what their pet needed on a daily basis.
Our designers began by performing a category audit of pet food products and a stimuli audit of similar packaging or products. Our team conducted an ideation process that resulted in various prototypes designed to address the pain points of limiting interaction with the pet food and reducing the need for storing opened packaging of pet food products. We designed a variety of package solutions for these pain points that we then tested with the public in our in-house consumer research lab.
Part of our process involved our engineering team embedding themselves within the manufacturing process of our client to gain a comprehensive understanding of how this package design would be produced at scale. This process revealed an opportunity to dispense the pet food product with minimal consumer interaction.
For this specific manufacturing line, the pet food product would be filled into its packaging at a high temperature. This temperature resulted in the product sticking to the sides of the packaging. Our engineering team produced animations depicting how the packaging could be stressed to break the surface tension between the packaging and the pet food product. Once the surface tension was broken, the pet food product could easily dispense out of its packaging without requiring an additional utensil to scoop it out.
Our final design was the Blue Buffalo Tastefuls Spoonless Singles that followed an easily four-step process: snap, peel, pop, and chop. This package design split a typical serving size into two smaller packages that were manufactured and sold together but could easily be snapped from one another. This removed the consumer pain point of storing half-used containers in the fridge.
Each package had a tin foil lidding that could be peeled off, then the consumer could dispense the pet food product with a simple push at the bottom of the container — or by squeezing the sides. This action would break the surface tension between the pet food product and the packaging, allowing it to dispense from the packaging with ease. Once the pet food product was dispensed, the packaging included a built-in disposable fork so consumers can chop pet food for their favorite furry friend.
Winner of 2022 AmeriStar Best in Show and Design Excellence.
Want to hear more specifics about our process for this project?