• WisBusiness

Research shows packaging preferences can vary by generation

A research project from two recent graduates of UW-Stout finds product packaging preferences can vary greatly by generation.

The two students used batteries and headphones as their product samples, and tested several packaging options. The samples included blister packs, clamshell packaging, corrugated cardboard and pouches.

Brian Kuhns and Quenton Dravis determined that millennials born prefer more modern packaging such as pouches, while older folks prefer clear “clamshell” packaging -- even though the clamshell packaging was more difficult to open across the board.

They found that older people often want to be able to see the product before purchasing it, according to a release from UW-Stout.

“It really tells us if you are trying to attract an older generation visibility is key,” said Kuhns, a St. Paul native that was hired by Prent Corp. in Janesville after graduating in mid-December. “If you are trying to attract a younger generation it comes down to looking modern in your packaging.”

Dravis, who hails from Prescott, went to work for Milwaukee Tool as a packaging engineer.

They both took part in a packaging class taught by John Spartz, an associate professor of English and philosophy at UW-Stout. According to the release, this was his first time teaching the course, and his background helped guide students’ technical communication.

“I ask students to do human-centered, primary research,” Spartz said. “They need to learn to communicate within cross-functional teams and with different stakeholders.”

Dravis says Spartz “teaches us to present and not just give information.”

In all, 21 students from the class presented their research to wrap up last semester. Other student projects focused on extending shelf life for ground beef and various fruits and vegetables.

They explored the use of several organic materials in extending quality of food, such as essential rosemary oil mixed with olive oil, as well as aloe vera.

According to the release, UW-Stout is one of just a handful of schools in the United States that offers a bachelor’s degree in packaging.


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