Kanzen in the Science of Product Packaging

Unpacking the Canon MF4770n laserjet printer is a sight to behold. The machine is matte black, and the safety cards are bright orange. But its more than just removing tape and packing. The cards are elaborately and thoughtfully installed, forcing you to step through the installation process in order to remove them.

For example, take the installation of the toner cartridge. Trying to remove the safety card without opening the top of the laserprinter is a futile effort. After you disengage the lock and open the top the card continues and wraps around the toner cartridge. Pulling now gets you further. It releases the cartridge which has its own safety components. You are shown that you should shake it then pull the activation strip to expose the toner to the heating element. It only slides back in only one way. After the safety card finally allows you to disengage it, you see that it is about two feet in length.

This ingenuity continues with the paper holding tray. It is configured for shipping and storage and must be reconfigured to hold paper and operate. Rather than tedious instructions you are presented with another safety card. Pulling the tab this time unlocks, unfolds and drops the printing tray into position. It accomplishes mechanically what an instruction booklet may have taken three or four diagrams to illustrate.

The entire time I was setting up the printer I felt like I was working with an extremely polished product. I didn’t even crack the instructions (rarely do I), but this time there was no room for doubt. It just goes to show that the OOBE an have just as much of an impact on a consumer as the product itself. Installation is a time when anxiety (or frustration) is high, and knowledge is low. This is the perfect time to comfort your customer and generate repeat business. The packing and installation really sets the stage for what is to come. I’m looking at you IKEA!


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