HAVI helped a quick-service restaurant (QSR) chain to address customer complaints about a dairy-based menu item. By redesigning product packaging and improving the product assembly process, the chain was able to reduce material costs and eliminate customer complaints.
CASE STUDY FOCUS: PACKAGING DESIGN
A quick service restaurant (QSR) chain sought help to address customer complaints about a menu item. By redesigning product packaging and improving the product assembly process, the chain was able to reduce material costs and eliminate customer complaints.
A leading QSR chain regularly fielded customer complaints about a dairy-based menu item. Customers complained about product under-filling (“I didn’t receive a full portion”) and order inaccuracies, often citing a missing utensil and/or separately packaged topping. The QSR chain met with its ingredient suppliers to address these concerns and collectively determined that the challenge was in the product’s packaging. The chain had been using a stock cup for the product and wondered if a custom cup would help eliminate the under-filling and order inaccuracy issues prompting customer complaints.
The QSR chain looked to HAVI, a global leader in packaging, supply chain services, marketing and supply chain analytics, merchandising planning and promotions management, and waste, recycling and sustainability, with deep expertise in the QSR and foodservice markets. HAVI considered the product’s existing packaging, the way the product was assembled and preserved in restaurants during the day and how it was presented to customers upon order.
The QSR chain did not want to change the actual portion size of the product, so HAVI proposed modifications in the assembly process and a new cup, custom designed for the correct portion. Previously, when restaurant crews assembled the product each morning, they leveled off the top layer of dairy in the cups. As the day passed and frozen ingredients beneath the dairy thawed, the product settled in the cup and fell below the fill line. Not only did this cause the product to look messy since it left traces of dairy on the sides of the cup as it dropped in volume, it also suggested a lack of freshness and that the cup was under-filled. HAVI suggested that crews leave the product slightly mounded in the cup so it would remain above the fill line even after natural settling.
In addition to proposing process changes, the packaging team changed the sidewall angles of the cup. Conscious of customers’ perceptions of value, they kept the height of the cup and diameter of the opening the same, but made the bottom diameter of the cup smaller. The narrowed cup caused the portion size to appear larger and, coupled with the process of mounding the dairy on top, eliminated any perceptions of under-filling. The custom cups also weighed less than the larger stock cups and helped the QSR chain save $500,000 USD annually in material costs.
Customer complaints of order inaccuracy stemmed from crew members forgetting to include the utensil and separate package of crunchy topping for the product and/or these items becoming misplaced during order assembly. HAVI addressed this issue by working with the topping supplier to help it create a wider seal on the topping package that included a slit. Next, the packaging team designed a new lid for the cup that included a tab on the side that would hold a utensil and the redesigned package of topping (tab slides through the slit in the topping package first and then utensil holds it in place). When crew members assembled the product at the start of the day, they could attach the utensil and topping to the redesigned lid during that process. Not only did this save time during order fulfillment since crew members could simply grab the product from refrigerated cases along with a napkin, it resolved the issue of forgotten and/or misplaced utensils and toppings.
Additionally, because the product maintained a fuller and fresher appearance for a longer period during the day, restaurants were able to extend its shelf life by several hours.
HAVI also made the top of the lid flat, as opposed to a dome shape, and incorporated a stacking ring to enable stacking of product during order fulfillment. Additionally, because the opening diameter of the cups did not change, crew members could easily use their inventory of previous lids on the cups before transitioning to the new lids. Similarly, the new lids fit on stock cups and could be used interchangeably until inventory was replenished.
The narrowed cups, redesigned lids and process changes HAVI proposed helped the QSR chain address and virtually eliminate customer complaints about a popular menu item. While this product had a high level of customer complaints in comparison to the chain’s other menu items, after engaging the packaging team’s help, complaints are almost non-existent. QSR Magazine and the Foodservice Packaging Institute recognized the new packaging with a QSR-FPI Foodservice Packaging Award for Consumer Convenience.