Anthropology Design/UX Innovation

Innovation 40 Years in the Making

Written by Paula Gray

Heinz just launched a new ketchup packet.  “We created the packet in 1968, consumer complaints started around 1969″ said Dave Ciesinski, vice president of Heinz Ketchup. After 40 years of complaints, they now have a solution.

In the 40 years since Heinz launched the ketchup packet, the company has seen much innovation.  Just not in the ketchup single serve variety.  The Heinz website states “Today, Heinz continues to elevate the science of product packaging to an art form.” Well, some people in the ketchup packet division must have taken a few vacation days off in the last 40 years.

Although the new “Dip & Squeeze” packet is considered a ketchup ‘revolution’ it has been a long time in the making.  It wasn’t until two years ago that Heinz bought their packet design team a used minivan to “give their ideas real road tests.”

Was this the first time the Heinz Ketchup team ever wrestled with this issue? I have to assume that somewhere, some time at Heinz there have been employees who have accidentally squeezed ketchup onto their clothes, had children who did the same, or who made a mess in the car trying to use the ketchup.  Did none of the employees use their own products?  You don’t have to be an anthropologist to put yourself in the customer’s shoes.  Where was the product manager?

Paula Gray
the anthropologist

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About the author

Paula Gray

Paula Gray is an anthropologist and the Director of Research and Knowledge Development at AIPMM. She has traveled the globe to work with companies throughout the US, Europe, Africa and Asia-Pacific to help them gain a deeper understanding of their customers. She is featured in Linda Gorchels' book The Product Manager's Handbook and has contributed to several books on product management including The Guide to the Product Management and Marketing Body of Knowledge (ProdBOK). She is also the author of numerous blog posts and papers including Business Anthropology and the Culture of Product Managers.

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