Professor Richtoven: Good morning, class. I’m Professor Richtoven and this is Customer Alienation 101.
Let’s start with a simple question that relates to our first case study of the semester: How many here have cut a finger or worse trying to open a packet of Gillette Mach 3 razors? Anyone? Anyone? My goodness. Everyone!
Ok, wow. Well, who would like to share a war story with the rest of the class? Yes, Smedley.
Smedley: I’ve cut myself three different times on those impossible to open packages. One time I sliced off the tip of my pinky. See the stump? Anyway, my mom insisted on taking me to the ER. So embarrassing.
Professor: Ouch. And, how does that make you feel about Gillette?
Smedley: I hate their guts.
Professor: But, you still buy their razor?
Smedley: They’re the best, professor. The best.
Professor: Interesting. Anyone else? Yes, Dimwitz.
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Do you have as much trouble as I do opening some of the space age product packages being made by the P&G’s, Unilevers and others?
Just this morning, I barely missed slicing opening an artery as I vainly tried to gain access to a new packet of Mach III razor blades. These packages are fool-proof, knife-proof and bullet-proof. The packet containing five little containers of dental floss is positively maniacal in its stubborn refusal to be opened and could confound the cagiest bank robber.
Not only are these packets impervious to simple opening techniques, they’re made of some nasty, ragged plastic that, when punctured at long last, lie in wait for the unsuspecting consumer to reach inside and try to extract the desired consumer product.
I’m sure these Fort Knox-like packages were created in response to the Tylenol-type product tampering scares of the 1980s and 1990s. But, c’mon. There has to be a happy medium. What good to me is a new razor blade, box of dental floss or can of shaving cream when I’m howling in pain, and searching for some band-aids to stanch my bleeding? In fact, wouldn’t it be ironic if the Gestapo-like product packaging people decided to encase band-aids in these fool-proof, lethal packets? If they did, then we’d have arrived at the true end of the universe: a product that both caused pain (i.e. Slashing the bejesus out of yourself when opening the packet) and provided the solution (a band-aid to control the bleeding).
It’s madness. Sheer madness. And it does nothing to build product loyalty, either.