Coffee cans and Bees

Recently Elite, a major manufacturer of chocolate, candy and coffee in Israel, launched a campaign to prepare us all for “the same beloved familiar taste in a new packaging”. Every instant coffee can had a sticker heralding the change, then the new cans came out with stickers extolling it.

Elite coffee cansNow actually, the change is minimal and mostly unimportant, as you can see in the photo of the old can (at left) and the new. They have a slightly modified graphic design, but it’s the same good ol’ coffee we’re all addicted to. But there is one change that caught my eye: the new can is noticeably taller. Since both contain 200g of the same powder, you’d think it was also thinner; and in a sense it is, but not at the base; in fact the bottom and top are of identical diameter. The new can, however, has a “waist” in the middle.

HoneycombSo what? So, canned goods have to be stored, transported, and stocked. They therefore need to be packed close together; ideally you’d want them hexagonal, as the bees had discovered long ago. But even with round cans, you need to try and minimize wasted space. In the home this means minimizing shelf footprint, or base area; you want to be able to put as many of these on a shelf as possible. For shipping and storehouse space you also care about height, of course. But what you really don’t want is to have this sexy curvaceous can that maintains the same footprint but adds height by wasting unusable empty space in the middle.

Oh well, at least they have a new font in their logo.

Honeycomb photo source: Richard Bartz, via Wikimedia commons.

2 Responses to “Coffee cans and Bees”


  1. 1 Amitai

    Obviously, Nathan, you think like an engineer. This box, however, was designed by marketing people, and the purpose of the new design is about all kinds of things, non of which is what the customer needs!

    For example:

    * Supermarket shelf space – the more the better. They probably found that in most supermarket coffee shelves, there is a space between the top of their can and the next shelf up. Filling up this space give more retina coverage to the can.
    * Brand upgrade – my guess is that the higher brands of coffee are sold in taller cans/jars, so this is making the standard instant coffee more like the higher brands.
    * Accessibility – the “waist” makes it easier to grab the can off the shelf, making it more likely to be held (“just to see what it looks like”) and subsequently placed in the basket.

    The objective of the package is selling the product. Everything else is secondary.

    I’m an engineer too, and obviously understanding these things pisses me off, too.

  2. 2 Nathan Zeldes

    Oh yes, Amitai, I do think like an engineer… wouldn’t want it to be any other way! 🙂

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