The power of packaging

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I bet there are a lot of moms in advertising these days. If there isn’t, there should be, because no one knows better than moms what pleases children. And that includes the children themselves.

My wife pointed out an observation that is both incredibly obvious and incredibly overlooked. She calls it the “power of packaging”. We had a big bag of pet crackers in the pantry. This bag stayed there for a long time. Every time it was snack time, they were turned away. One day we received a free six packet at the grocery store that contained the exact same pet crackers.

Suddenly all the boys wanted these animal crackers. Something about having their own packaging makes the same snack more appealing. Ditto for: sodas, bubbles, Pop Tarts, cereals and even water (having an individual water bottle versus having a glass of water).

I’m not quite sure this isn’t the solution for kids who don’t want to eat vegetables. We could just put the broccoli in an individual bag and we’re golden.

Caleb harris

Some of these factors may apply more acutely to large families. After all, with seven family members to share with, having your own individual is unusual.

Or maybe individual preferences for family packages are just a smaller manifestation of the idiosyncrasies of democratic society as a whole. I mean, look around. There is certainly a preponderance of single serve coffee products, sodas, candy bars, peanuts, Fritos and even water.

We know that individual rights are important to the perpetuation of freedom, but we seem to think that individual servings of salty snacks are too. It looks like a good opportunity for an American chip brand. I can see it now: take an individual Americhips bag! Because only the Communists share their snacks.

It might be a bit of a stretch, but I think the individual servings of everything probably are too.

Remember when a box of 64 pencils was what all the kids at the table shared? Now that’s right, giving each kid their own 8-pack is sure to please kids. And probably reduce the quarrels over who has the red pencil. And it’s hard to argue against the benefit of eliminating all those invented colors (looking at you, burnt sienna and neon carrot).

But it also increases the impression that sharing is for the losers, encourages waste, and eliminates the need to work together.

It’s no wonder kids are so bad at sharing. When everything is offered in an individual pack and kids are subtly encouraged to always want their own everything, and most people have their own, sharing seems unusual. And now that sharing just about anything has been deemed unsanitary by health experts, I don’t see the trend towards single-use, single-use packaging doing anything but growing.

After all, packaging has power. Just ask a mom.

Harris and his wife live in Pflugerville with their six sons. Please send your comments or suggestions for future columns to [email protected]


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