More than 26,000 attendees came to the Las Vegas Convention Center to see solutions offered by 1,559 exhibitors and learn more about package design and technology at Pack Expo Las Vegas on Sept. 26–28, 2011. For the design industry, there was plenty to see to stoke the creative fires. One of the most dynamic new features of the show, the Consumer Retail Experience, spoke directly to the package design category: The 3,600-sq-ft exhibit served as a laboratory for a consumer research experiment by Clemson University.
At the heart of the exhibition was a 1,000-sq-ft mini-mart (called the CUshop) designed and built at Clemson’s Sonoco Institute. When reassembled in Las Vegas, it was complete with shopping aisles, shelves of boxes, and items commonly found in a grocery store.
Clemson graduate and undergraduate students, who were advised by assistant professor R. Andrew Hurley, invited Pack Expo attendees to put on digital eye-tracking glasses and search for specific products in the CUshop. The glasses recorded the study participants’ eye movements at 30 movements per second. The data was transmitted to a computer, which then showed which packaged products attracted their attention.
The students took this data back with them to Clemson, where Hurley and his team are using it to search for trends in package design elements and what Hurley calls “the perceived quality of products.” This trends research, he says, is especially valuable because it “unveils consumer decision-making and investigation at the subconscious level.”
Returning to Pack Expo was the sold-out Brand Zone, sponsored by Package Design. At the forefront in this feature, Project 2020: The Consumer Experience shared designs from its “Package of the Future” competition. Directions Marketing (Neenah, WI) won for its Tri-tainer pet food package concept.
The Tri-tainer brings functionality and recyclability to bulk pet food packaging. The container features an interlocking triangular design, with a uniform size and shape, which makes packing, shipping, and warehouse storage more efficient. Accordion-type compression reduces the container height as product is dispensed, and when empty the container folds flat for easy recyclability. Built-in, pop-up handles make the dog food easy to dispense.
Next year, Pack Expo returns to Chicago’s McCormick Place October 28-31.