Another instalment in what’s turning into Design Week, this is going to be broken up into three sections because it kept expanding and expanding. Whether that’s a sign of a great idea or merely an obsessive mind is up to you.
First things first:
What’s with that name?
It’s a stupid name, I agree. Mainly it stuck because I came up with it in an Itsu, where everything was something-su, and the Resident Australian started referring to my bag full of packets of things as Packetsu, and habit is habit. A better name will, I am sure, occur to someone else.
Yes, but what is it?
Bearing in mind that I have a powerful fascination with the following things:
- exact measurement of food/calories
- tidy, exact packaging
and that the majority of retailed food items do not manage to allow any of these three things, it occurred to me in the process of making my rice cooker that many instant noodle and rice and so on products could be hugely improved upon by selling the plain item on its own and then selling separate flavour and embellishment (dried beef, dehydrated vegetables) packets cheaply and individually, to allow people to both pick their own flavours on a whim and also mix and match. Choice, you see.
It then occurred that this didn’t really need to be limited to flavour: different sizes for different diets. Multibag buys.
Sounds a bit packaging wasteful.
Except now of course there are endless options for low-impact packaging which makes that concern rather less of an issue. You can make compost with those extra layers, or eat them, or reuse them. The individual packets work well for vending machine culture – endless variations and one slot to dispense them. Preparation pots sold separately, but cheaply. Just add hot water.
Where do you see this going besides the supermarket aisle and the vending machine?
Well they’re terribly convenient in those aspects. Why not corner shops? Why not move on from the savoury rice and noodles and stir-in pasta salads to fresh, vacuum-sealed produce in individual serving sizes (80g bag of peas, vaccuum sealed. Pull the strip to perforate, pop in the microwave. Three veg bags, one potato bag, some fish fillet: a proper meal in the microwave at work with whatever sauces and seasonings and combinations you want instead of the three flavours previously made up by the supermarket cold food section). Why not introduce wallet-sized sachets for emergency spicing-up of snacks at eminently reasonable prices?
Remember that this revolution is already expanded from “just noodles or rice”: The Food Doctor sell couscous pots. Various diet companies have put out bean-chilli pots of the “add hot water” variety, and Itsu do famously delicious massive pots as well as their little crystal noodle ones.
Move on from the savoury to the sweet, even. Muller Corners, hot chocolate sachets, astronaut ice cream, popping candy paper sachets, porridge pots (with dried milk, so all you need to add is water) – the rudiments exist already, and only need to be rejigged to really sell the “mix and match”, “individual”, and “durable” aspects across them all. Porridge can be altered with the substitution of powdered soya milk or similar for the vegan option. The “add your own toppings” deal is already the staple of deli counters and ice-cream bars and the philosophy can be expanded easily into take-away or assemble-yourself.
So the idea is: tiny packets?
Ah, but also a choice between a) specialised containers or b) one all-purpose container: “fill the multi-purpose to the GREEN line with water” etc.
Of course there’s also the possibility for themed containers/cups (Hello Kitty? Rilakkuma? Movie tie-ins?), children’s lines… folding silicone ones for camping…
Tiny packets and containers?
You make it sound so unfulfilling! There are so many options! It’s so convenient! You could go batshit and have raspberry powder and soy sauce and coconut and beef on your tapioca and no one could judge you for it.
Filed under: content: essay, concept, concept design, conceptual, consumer, convenience, design, fast food, food, marketing, mix and match, philosophy, philosophy of retail, retail