Functional performance

The ability of the packaging to contain, protect and store the product is testable without the need for consumer research. Where consumers' views are relevant in pack design is in ease of opening, convenience in use, and suitability for closing and reopening if the product is used in that way. For this reason functional performance tests must attempt to replicate in-use conditions.

Products that are opened and consumed only once can be tested in the test centres, hall tests or mobile vans. Ring-pull cans were tested against tear-off tag cans by inviting consumers into mobile vans to try the two opening devices. Film cameras recorded the manner in which respondents handled and opened cans. A similar approach might be used to test whether package instructions are read, and how readily they are followed.

Products that are used over time must be tested by in-home placement tests. The packaging is usually plain or blind to eliminate symbolic interference from brand name or pack design. The now familiar flip-top packaging of cigarettes was developed in this way. The product is left with the respondent to use under normal conditions. Often two packs will be tested: either two test-pack variants, or the test-pack against the current pack or a competitor's pack. At the end of the period the respondent is asked which pack is preferred, and why.

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