Adventures in resealable packaging


For the second day in a row, I’m going to talk about product packaging. Today’s question: Why aren’t more packages resealable? I’ve seen this feature on raisins, cheese, and other small items (both perishable and non-perishable), but never on bigger things like bags of pretzels or tortilla chips. Working on the assumption that the CPG companies don’t have a secret collaboration with whoever makes those “chip clip” things, there must be something else afoot.

Maybe these large packages are some sort of “family size”, designed to be eaten by a large group in one sitting. But this would suggest that the really, really big packages (which only a football team could finish) would be more likely to be resealable, and I haven’t seen any evidence of that. Or perhaps the manufacturer hopes that once they open the bag, consumers will transfer the contents into a large Ziploc or other storage container. This would provide additional margin (since the same CPG companies often make plastic bags), but I still find such a scenario hard to believe.

When it comes down to it, I think the presence or absence of resealable packaging is mainly a factor of product positioning. I’d speculate that the leading brand in a given segment is unlikely to introduce this, since it costs more to produce and erodes margins. But once a challenger brand steps in with the feature, along with labeling that promises the food will stay fresh longer, the others are more likely to follow.

Now that I think about it, some of the products I mentioned above — like pretzels and tortilla chips — do tend to be dominated by one or two companies. Even large retailers like Target may only carry one brand of each, aside from the store brand. So, my sad conclusion is this: Even if an obviously useful feature like resealable packaging costs very little to implement, it often gets left out of consumer products because it increases unit costs and there is little competitive incentive to include it, until someone else does so first.

On the other hand, if you add a simple and useful feature like this to your own products — especially when you’re selling software — you might find that sales increase a lot more than you expect. It may turn out that customers have been waiting for it all along, but no one ever had the guts to bring it to them.

2 Responses to “Adventures in resealable packaging”

  1. Dastardly plans aside, I think you’ve hit upon a good point: Nabisco is apparently re-investing some of the profits from their higher-margin, premium products in order to make the products better and perhaps justify the higher pricing. I wonder how long it will take before competitors follow. As a side note, I think those stickers are a neat solution, but I usually end up putting them in the wrong place on the package. Perhaps they could stencil out an area that says “place sticker here”.

  2. 2 Craig

    I have actually seen some crackers that come in resealable packaging. The one that comes to mind is Nabisco’s line of Toasted Chips. They come with what is basically a reusable sticker. One possible reason that Nabisco can incorporate this and still make profit over the competition is because these ‘toasted chips’ are sold as a healthy alternative to potato chips. People are willing to pay extra to eat healthily; for this extra cost, the reusable sticker can be included.

    This still, however, doesn’t completely nullify your argument in the article. Perhaps a conspiracy does exist between the CPG and ChipClip people…