Walking down the chips aisle of any supermarket or convenient store worldwide the consumer experiences a sea of similar packages excelling in plainness. Brand messages are lost, delicate packages lead to broken and wasted product, and the bulky flexible bags are costly to handle. The flexible plastic chips bag boasts only one thing: the inevitable and systematic demolition of each formerly full-bodied, with care manufactured and delicious chip arrested between its fragile walls.
In general, current chips bags have three layers: a printed outer layer with packaging visuals and graphics, an inner layer, which serves as a barrier to maintain the quality and integrity of the product, and a middle layer that joins the other two layers.
Strange as it may sound, but snack food manufacturers are characterized as some of the most innovative packagers, except for portion control, convenience and sustainability, that’s definitively not the case with the chips manufacturers.
Apparently they ignore all studies in which packaging is acknowledged as the primary driver in decision-making, with the consequence that packages looking too traditional are no longer appealing to consumers, who are swayed by a wide range of conscious, emotional and subliminal influences. New sizes and particularly shapes communicate a product message and encourage brand loyalty more strongly. Look at Procter & Gamble’s Pringles.
But if all market surveys argue that packaging shapes are the future, why are so many products packaged in the same format as their competitors, and apparently with no exception?
Cost is clearly an important factor and standardisation makes it easier to run a large number of similar products or brands through the same system. Take PepsiCo’s Frito Lay, with its many brands as an example.
The role packaging plays in the marketing of products, is evident and well known, but who challenges the brand owners to do things differently?
Imagine Doritos Tortilla Chips
Doritos is a brand of flavoured tortilla chips (toasted corn) invented by Arch West and produced since 1964 by the US food company Frito-Lay (a division of PepsiCo, Inc.).
Basing his design on the shape and texture of the Doritos tortilla chip, Peter Parlov created a redesign of the snack’s packaging. Besides being a visual standout, the geometric formation or surface triangulations allow for opening and closing without the use of a clip.
Petar Pavlov, born in Skopje, Macedonia, with a degree in Graphic Design & Visual Communications from Accademia Italiana, is a graphic designer at McCann Erickson, where he works for clients such as Coca-Cola, Fanta and Bacardi amongst others. He is also involved in experimental design work at the academy, offering him the opportunity to blend strategic and visual thinking.
Thinking out of the bag into the box. Let’s hear from the designer himself the argumentation, when he recognised the link between the original homeland of the chips: Mexico and the packaging.
Petar: “So I dug deep into the Mexican history which brought me to their ancient ancestors, the Aztecs and their recognizable sculptures, the totem poles. The final form of the packaging resembles a simplified totem, and even has an extra feature: the structure kept the packaging closed after opening.”
Intended to be a totem pole or not, the triangles also look like the chips itself, called nachos, the Mexican name given to a tortilla chip topped with cheese and chilli-pepper and broiled.
The packaging can be made out of environmentally friendly cardboard, a material whose natural texture slightly resembles the one of the chips. The structure of the packaging allows for opening and reclosing.
Brand-wise, this solution will differentiate Doritos from any other competition and build a strong ‘shelf effect’, as the triangular faces, beside the ergonomic value, create a perfect canvas for expressive illustrations.
Unfortunately the consumer will probably never see this Doritos packaging in the convenience stores or supermarkets as Pavlov originally conceived this design for a contest brief sent out by YCN, a London-based creative agency, which asked designers to create a totally new packaging concept for Doritos. Whatever the case, the design is certainly a fresh treat for the eyes.