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Packaging and ease of opening for disabled and older customers

Packaging can be difficult for many disabled and older consumers to open and use. We test packaging for ease of use against the latest industry standard.

hands opening a jarWe carry out commissioned testing of packaging with members of our consumer research panel including:

  • Testing to the new industry standard Packaging Accessible Design - Ease of Opening (BS ISO 17480 : 2018)
  • 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 : 2018)

This is a new international standard which provides criteria and a test method for evaluating compliance through user based evaluation.

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).

RiDC tests to this specification have included: Marks & Spencer grocery packaging and pharmaceutical packaging.

Marks & Spencer (2011)

panel testing M & S jarsWe tested Marks and Spencers products to the new technical packaging specification. This project built on joint 2011 research with Age UK for their 'Frustration Free Packaging' project where the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers 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

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

Nampak plastic milk bottles (2008/11)

We worked for over four years 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.

Our consumer panels

The Research Institute for Disabled Consumers has its own consumer research forum, consisting of over 900 older and disabled people. Find out what members say about services and products they like and dislike: consumer forum survey findings.

To discuss or commission research from the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers, contact Caroline Jacobs, Head of Development.

Last updated: Apr 2019