Heinz ketchup packet gets redesign

I don’t know about you, but every once in a while something like this comes around and you want to reach out and shake  Matt’s hand – for doing something that was so obvious, but took so much time and effort…

The ketchup packet has been around for more than 40 years, and complaints about it for nearly as long: too messy, too small, too hard to open.

Now ketchup giant H.J. Heinz Co. is unveiling the first major packaging change to the to-go condiment. The new design has a base that’s more like a cup for dipping and also a tear-off end for squeezing, plus it holds three times as much ketchup than a traditional packet.

“The packet has long been the bane of our consumers,” said Dave Ciesinski, vice-president of Heinz Ketchup. “The biggest complaint is there is no way to dip and eat it on-the-go.” Heinz has long struggled to find a design that lets diners dip or squeeze ketchup that could also be sold at a price acceptable to its restaurant customers.

For this effort, it bought its design team a used minivan two years ago to test if their ideas really worked while eating on the road. Heinz sells more than 11 million cases of its ketchup packets in the U.S. every year and it will continue to sell the traditional packet. The new packet is in test markets in the Midwest and Southeast and will roll out at select fast-food restaurants in the fall.

Heinz is still working out prices with customers but said packets will cost a little more than regular packets. Will they catch on? It’s hard telling, but the news may cheer some ketchup fans like Matt Kurtz, a 22-year-old student who finds the problems are as ubiquitous as the packets themselves. The self-proclaimed ketchup aficionado became so annoyed two years ago after spilling the red stuff on his jeans while on a road trip, he started one of hundreds of anti-ketchup packet groups on Facebook. He dubbed it “Prop 57″ as a gentle poke at Heinz, saying it is to “draw awareness” to the packets’ shortcomings. “I said, ‘There has to be a better way’,” he said.

Read more about this business branding story, click here.

The exponential lessons are:

  1. As a company, don’t wait 40 years to change the obvious – something ‘everyone knows’ needs to change.
  2. Listen to your clients BEFORE it gets to the point where Facebook groups need to move you to action.
  3. One person can make a difference – THANKS Matt!!!
  4. If there is a cost and the improvement is substantial – many customers will GLADLY pay for it. Don’t be afraid to create a PREMIUM PRODUCT and charge for the added value/convenience/size…
  5. When you do get it right, lots of people will reward you for it – like I am right now, giving Heinz the recognition they deserve… IT’S ABOUT TIME!!!

This news item was sent to me by Andrew Powell in Montreal, Canada.

I’m a big fan of Heinz Ketchup that I now call Tom-at-to Sauce, not Tom-8-to Sauce.

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