What’s wrap rage? It’s the feeling you get when you buy something and then have to wrestle with getting your new toy out of its packaging before you can use it. We’ve all been there – and, believe it or not, there are about 6,000 emergency room trips per year to take care of people who have cut themselves up trying to open up some of those hard plastic package.
Now a lot of retailers like this type of packaging because it cuts down on theft, and helps to showcase the product on the store shelves, but it really doesn’t make any sense at all when you buy mail order. Amazon recognizes that, and has been trying to do something about wrap rage for two years now, with limited success. They launched their “frustration-free packaging” initiative to try to get rid of those hard clamshells, plastic ties, and air-bubble wrap, which, they realized, was a major source of customer complaints. But after two years, only 600 of the millions of products that Amazon sells made the switch to new, easy to open packaging.
So Amazon is now trying to ratchet up the pressure on manufacturers. They’re now starting to publish the negative feedback that they get after a consumer gets a case of wrap rage and are providing it directly to the companies that make the products. It seems to be working – Phillips (the giant electronics company) has just changed the packaging on its Essence Sonicare toothbrush after seeing the feedback. (I know – I bought one of these a couple of years ago, and it was a bear to open.) In fact, in 2007, the Phillips Sonicare won a Oyster Award from Consumer Reports in 2007 – an award which is given to the products that are deemed the hardest to open. After making the change, Phillips and their packager (AllpakTrojan) found that the new design was cheaper, used much less material, and was much more environmentally friendly – after all, all that plastic is made from oil. Phillips is thrilled with the switch and is looking to expand it to other products.
Other companies that has developed frustration-free packaged versions of their products for Amazon include Duracell, Poloroid, and Procter & Gamble.