Missing It By That Much

July 1, 2006
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Missing It By That Much
By Robert McMath
I can’t be the only one! The advent of reclosable strips on pouches has been followed by a wave of modifications to these closures. Manufacturers have worked to make them “more convenient” or to offer an easier, tighter seal that better protects the contents inside. But with all of the advances—and even with the introduction of easy slip “zippers”—I still have trouble with the basic functionality of these strips.
I do, however, have to start by giving credit to the manufacturers. Taking a huge roll of film and attaching a closure as a pouch is formed is not an easy process. And the more secure the strips are intended to be, the more costly they are to the package manufacturer.  
But, alas, I am a consumer and the usability of a package is key to the experience I have with a brand. Cheese category, listen up. Many varieties and different forms of packaged cheese now come with some sort of reclosure strip—that’s good. But I have trouble making the best and easiest use of them.
Picture those rectangular blocks of semi-soft or hard cheese: They now come tightly wrapped with a reclosable strip along one of the long edges. Usually, to access the product, you have to cut off sealed film above the strip or you may have tug on a pull tab to open the film and access the resealable closure.
In the case of the pull strip, I usually find it difficult to pull the tab across the top of the package to split the seal. Then, because the pouch is so tight and because it has curled a bit in the manufacturing process, I have to fight to separate the two pieces of film so I can access and pull open the reclosure strip.  
Often I get so frustrated that I pass the package over to my wife and let her fight with it. She, of course, has more patience than I and ultimately succeeds. But even with the reclosure strip opened, I have troubles. I find that the cheese is wrapped too tightly in the film pouch, so as I take it out of the package it leaves a visible trail along the edge of the strip. This prevents the reclosable seal from closing tightly because now there are bits of cheese wedged along the track of the strip. My solution?  I take the not-completely-closed pouch and put it in a plastic sandwich bag.
I have the same difficulties opening those large, flat reclosable bags of shredded cheese hanging on hooks in the dairy case. So, ultimately, I have to say that while the concept of a reclosable strip on cheese packaging is good, it’s so often poorly executed. Nothing makes me more frustrated than fighting to use a “convenience”. BP
The author, Robert McMath, has been a marketing consultant for more than 30 years. Through  NewProductWorks, he has advised major companies. He is the author of What Were They Thinking, a book chronicling the whys of product successes and failures. Contact him at 607.582.6125 or rmcmath@cs.com. Visit www.NewProductWorks.com

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