Consumer research for older and disabled people

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Packaging and ease of opening for older and disabled customers

Packaging can be difficult for many disabled and older consumers to open and use.

hands opening a jarRica carries out commissioned testing of packaging with members of our Consumer Panel including:

  • Testing to the new industry standard Packaging Accessible Design - Ease of Opening (BS ISO 17480 : 2015)
  • Marks & Spencer 'Frustration Free' packaging project (2011)
  • Nampak plastic milk bottles (2008-10) – Infini and ‘Keep a handle on it’

Packaging Accessible design - Ease of opening (BS ISO 17480 : 2015)

This is a new international standard which provides criteria and a test method for objectively evaluating consumer packaging.

Each package is tested twice with a minimum of 20 users aged 65 - 80 years to deliver an assessment of effectiveness (ability to open), efficiency (speed of opening), and satisfaction (degree of satisfaction with the opening process).

Rica's 2014 tests to this specification have included: Marks & Spencer grocery packaging and pharmaceutical packaging.

Marks & Spencer (2011)

panel testing M & S jarsAs noted above - we've just tested for Marks and Spencers to the new technical packaging specification. This project built on joint 2011 research with Age UK for their 'Frustration Free Packaging' project where Rica was commissioned to:

  • test 36 grocery packages, each with eight older people
  • film all testing so designers and suppliers could see the issues for themselves 
  • run customer workshops to discuss likes and dislikes and practical solutions
  • help M & S identify which products needed to be improved, and how.

Rica presented the research findings to the 2011 M & S 'Plan A conference' for their suppliers.

Nampak plastic milk bottles (2008/11)

Over 4 years Rica worked with Nampak Ltd, a leading European manufacturer of plastic bottles, to evaluate the usability of existing and prototype milk bottles. Our research included home based and observed lab testing with over 200 older and disabled consumers, younger people and families. Key projects included:

  • Infini – testing prototypes for the development of the innovative lightweight Nampak Infini milk bottle, now available extensively in UK retailers.
  • ‘Keep a handle on it’ – research with Nampak and Help the Aged (now Age UK) in 2008 to investigate the importance of the milk bottle handle to older and disabled consumers.  Four prototype designs were tested at home by 10 households.

Rica consumer panels

Rica has its own consumer panels, consisting of over 500 older and disabled people. Find out what members say about services and products they like and dislike: consumer panel survey findings.

To discuss or commission research from Rica, contact Caroline Jacobs, Co-Director.

Last updated: July 2016

See also: Rica's research reports | Research case studies | Rica's research Exchange