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Older people failed by manufacturers over packaging

03 February 2016

Food manufacturers should ensure their products are easier to open for older people, according to a new study. 

Elderly people regularly encounter difficulties opening food packaging, and experience frustration and even accidents as a result. 

Previous studies have shown that an estimated 67,000 visits are made to accident and emergency wards every year in the UK because of accidents involving food packaging.

“Studies show that due to changes in physical capabilities and social circumstances, older people risk suffering embarrassment and anger, and even potential illness and serious injury as a result of difficulties with packaging,” said Dr Nicholas Ford, of Portsmouth University Business School.

Dr Ford conducted interviews with consumers aged between 59 and 85. The results were published in the Journal of Marketing Management.

Specifically, issues found were:
Font size
Unclear and deceptive imagery
Items being too heavy or bulky to transport
Difficulty opening packaging

“While seemingly innocuous when considered in isolation, the experiences shared by our participants suggest that the gradual build-up and continuation of stresses can lead to sustained feelings of frustration and powerlessness,” said Dr Ford.

“Good packaging can help contribute to older consumers maintaining independent lives.”


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