i am not always great with change.

sometimes it really hurts.

especially when you mess with my favorite comfort foods.

example 1: my blue box kraft mac and cheese

let’s get right to the brass tax.  i think they have shrunk the noodles.

i was so shattered at the prospect that i took this picture with the fork in the bowl (albeit a large bowl that maybe holds the entire box of mac and cheese) so i could create some context for future reference.  i know it doesn’t help.



chicago, illinois 7.2014

this is…errr was one of my favorite treats on the planet.  i will spare you the rant that i did write and delete because we are focusing on the potential of smaller noodles and not my rocky relationship with kraft blue box as i work towards a healthier lifestyle.  i have not purchased or consumed any blue box since this discovery because A) healthier lifestyle dictates i steer very clear and B) the fact that they might have changed it is just too much for me to bear….

anyone else noticed this? was this a one time bit of personal confusion?

that is what i thought with example 2…but the scenario has repeated itself.

example 2: my stouffer’s french bread pizzas – deluxe

why ohh why would you stop cutting the pepperoni into quarters?  now i have to hand shred them.  sure i was always interacting with the pepperoni making sure that they were evenly distributed across the pizza but that doesn’t make your hands greasy.  shredding the pepperoni does.  it happened a few weeks ago and i prayed it was just a random mistake but then it happened again this week and i think this might be the way of the future… (candidly, i did get better pepperoni coverage but too much work.  please see an au’ natural look beside a hand shredded option…


opelika, alabama 12.2014

example 3: mcdonald’s egg mcmuffin muffin

(okay, so i get that my choices of comfort foods might qualify me for a food intervention but please note that i am working to train myself to really like fruits and vegetables….very slow road…and feeling a bit of food shame right now.)

at this point i suspect that they have only switched the mcmuffin in the alabama market.  “research tastings” in airports across the country and on ashland avenue in chicago appear to still match the original recipe but we might have a switch-a-roo on our hands.  in alabama i have experienced a less bread like mcmuffin that does not really toast as well and doesn’t seem to have the same binding characteristics as

am i alone on these?  have you noticed these changes or others in the products you buy and eat?  please share them in the comment section below…


wait…. a dry spf?

okay, i am currently experimenting with a new line of facial care products.

(do not worry guys!  stick with me here….)

the brand is eminence and they are a handmade organic skin care made in hungary since 1958.  overall, the package design is pretty simple across their line.  umm so kate, why are you telling us this?

WELL… then i was shown (and easily sold) a powdered spf sun protection product.  yes.  you read that correctly.  it is a powdered spf.  all you do is push the button on the top, it releases some powder, and then you apply it like a regular powder brush on your face, neck, arms…wherever you need.

brilliant.  no more oily sunscreen (i hope).  now i can enjoy (i hope) spf in its purest form.  how this will work when it is 90 degrees out and we are “glistening” (read: sweating) i am not sure.  but i must say i am excited at the prospect.  i cannot wait to see how well it works.


chicago 12.2014

so now let us get to the other bit of excitement here: the packaging.  not only is the primary package different with the telescoping brush which is crazy interactive fun BUT the wooden box is a stunner and really highlights its more organic and natural product feel.


facial care/cosmetic packaging can be and feel really lux, similar to spirit/alcohol packaging (as seen in my previous post ooooooh…. texture).

there are lots of reasons why this could be but here are two ideas i have that i would like to contribute to the conversation…

– you are typically interacting with the package one or more times in a day and if the package feels quality then it will help you feel better about using it as well as the possible effect

– often you are spending a LOT of money for a very small amount so the package is a way to reinforce the sense of value

can you think of other reasons why facial care/cosmetic companies invest more to create lux packages?  can you think of other categories where companies invest more money in the packaging in hopes of catching your eye?  please share them in the comment section below….

ohh and are you following me on twitter yet? follow me at @kcwglobal

are you following me on Facebook?  like me at KCW Global Research

please join the conversation – it is happening all over!



this past week i had the pleasure of traveling to new orleans for the qualitative research consultants association (QRCA) annual conference.  and yes, i am geeking out over some of the cool nuggets i got that i cannot wait to start implementing on monday….but i digress…after enjoying an amazing bowl of chicken and andouille gumbo and a…wait for it… deep-fried break pudding po boy at ye olde college inn in the airport, i was making my rounds in the hudson news and discovered this amazing NEW gem of a package………..


new orleans airport, 10.2014


as i was standing at the gate i carefully opened the outer package with incredible anticipation.  i sort of felt like ralphie from “a christmas story” when he was working to decode his weekly little orphan annie secret message.

some notable points on the package include: stickers with product information (suggesting this is an international product trying to meet our regulations), that this is a new tictac offering all together with crystals (read = “xylitol”), and that it is “exclusive to travelers” (and with travelers misspelled with two l’s – oops!).

once i had carefully opened the outer package and removed the second thin plastic layer my enthusiasm had grown – as had my audience as i started my own little focus group regarding the package while waiting to board – and this is the magic that i found!



shush up is right!  it has a slide door for picking out the product and a flip top as well for pouring!  the package is a bit big for your pocket but is definitely new and interesting….so of course i went back into the hudson news and bought all of the flavors in fear that i might not find this package again.

not sure on the verdict on the product itself…sadly, more of a candy versus a proper mint but i guess that is the tictac way.  my new friends at the gate appeared to like it but candidly, i was so excited that i might have biased them (or just in general, freaked them out).

SO, what are your reactions to this package?  have you seen any other candy packages that stand out as notable?  share it in the comments below… and be sure to come back and check the comments as there are some really amazing packages that are being shared….

and just because i know you all wanted to know what a deep-fried bread pudding po boy looks like…


i am not sure my body will ever recover from the new orleans culinary delicacies i enjoyed on this trip.  in fact, i think it is still trying to catch up from the minnesota state fair adventure of 2010….

more fun with wine!

so do you remember when you saw your first screw top on a bottle of wine?!  reactions to this innovation varied.  some possible reactions might have included…

– but how can THAT keep my wine as fresh?

– nice touch for CHEAPER wines

– hmm…no corkscrew needed?  NICE!

regardless of your reaction, i must say that i am very impressed with the level of innovation that i have seen with regard to wine packaging.  i have already shared the magic of the Copa glass of wine but even before that we saw boxed wine.  remember the outcry on that?  see possible responses above.  yep.  shockingly very similar.

but recently i came across a few other innovative wine packages that i cannot resist sharing with you….

1st innovation….a can.

yep.  a can of wine.  i have not yet tried it but leave it to whole foods to carry it…


chicago, illinois 9.2014


2nd innovation…a bag without the box.

in a world where we always boast about wanting less packaging, this seems like a perfect transition from the box…

bagged wine

(found online but they have another type at whole foods)

3rd innovation…and my favorite….a boxed 750ml bottle.

while many speak about the importance of less packaging, if a package is just perfect enough then the amount of packaging can prove to be less of a barrier…i, being the packaging whore that i am, just really hope deep down that this is better for the planet in some way because i think i am in love…


chicago, illinois 9.2014

4th innovation…because this category is changing and innovating daily it seems…the stacked single serving.

there is no sugar coating it, i have been hanging onto this gem for a while now.  if you follow me on twitter (@kcwglobal) this will look a little familiar.  it was in the clearance rack for $6.99.  shocking, right?  candidly i am afraid of what it will taste like so i am just keeping it around for the sake of entertainment.


auburn, alabama 5.2014

can you think of any innovations you have seen in the wine category as of late?  have you tried any of these new packaging styles?  and yes, friend or foe?  this spark another thought?  share in the comment section below…

show me the goods!

there are some products that we just do not need to see.

imagine seeing potato chips in a clear bag.  i did not think that would be a popular option….although it would certainly help me step away from the bag.

the increased popularity of real people canning and pickling over the last 5 or so years is now being visually captured in your local grocery store…and i think it is beautiful!

picture it, 20 minutes early for a brunch with my mom and i see a little local grocery store in a strip mall near by.  my very patient boyfriend indulges my request – – but probably more for the air conditioning than the joy of going aisle by aisle through a local grocery store.  towards the top of the aisle i see the following jars of fruit.  i might have scared him a bit.  i got pretty excited.

i am hoping that the pictures do the fruit proper credit but just in case i will describe what made me a bit giddy….  imagine a perfectly cut pear pieced together, like those orange chocolate break apart balls that are around during the holidays, so that it almost does not look cut.  this coupled with the clear label and the glass jar had me swooning!  the peaches were not quite as successful but i was still really impressed with the sense of freshness conveyed through the package design.


birmingham, alabama 4.2014


onto pickled goodness…  sometimes i leave my cell phone, read: camera, in the car.  that pretty much guarantees that i will see a package that i need a picture of.  this next one alluded me twice but third time was a charm!  well, umm, my neighbor had her phone so i was able to capture it for you…

photo 2chicago 8.2014

shush up.  here vlasic is working it!  the product itself looks so beautiful with the vibrant colors represented, it looks like my super green thumbed neighbor actually canned it at home, and i just feel like it will be the freshest and tastiest dill and bread&butter pickles ever.  the simplicity of the label design in terms of size, coloring, and font style works so well with the canning type lid.  i heart this package.

how are they doing in market?  in the spirit of full disclosure, i did see these products in the clearance section.  not sure why they were there but i am hoping that it does not mean that the product line is going away.  this package makes me really wish i was big into pickles.

and just because…. here is an example of some super fun pickle packaging in budapest (say that 3 times fast!)…and yes, the jar IS looking back at you….


budapest, 4.2014

any packages that stand out to you as beautiful in the way they highlight the actual product contained?  i would love to hear about in the comment area below.


sweet packaging in budapest

so i have been back from budapest for sometime now but there were two purchases of the sweet variety that are still moving around my home.  the chocolate is so delicious and special that i want to be able to make it last forever and the candy is just so pretty that i am not sure i could ever actually eat is just that beautiful.

don’t believe me?  take a gander…


budapest, hungary 4.2014

amazing right?  not only are the candies handmade but they are a mix of flavors, and therefore colors, and presented in a test tube. beyond the gorgeously simple presentation that just highlights the uniqueness and beauty of the tasty candies, we have the flavors themselves.

you might see a pink and green candy and associate that with watermelon but it could be cotton candy or cherry.  the colors mean nothing in terms of flavor.  to the US consumer this would be like having a bowl of jelly belly jelly beans where the colors mean nothing.  crazy mind-blowing.  again, the colors mean nothing.  i feel like this would be a cute novelty for US consumers for about 5 minutes and then they would insist a map to decode the flavors.

i bought a big mix bag, small bag of one flavor, and a couple of test tubes (just in case one broke in transit), and honestly, i am nervous to try them.  it is almost too much excitement and wonderment for me.  but let’s not make any mistake, the candies in the bags are to eat and the candies in the test tube will be with me till my final breath…

so these candies are the star of this tiny off the beaten track in a tiny little shop called cukorka.  please enjoy the little bags which are merchandised beautifully against a red wall with its simple red and white branding.  (for those who may not know me: i LOVE the color red…my car is red, couch is red, toe nails are red, thermos is red, ink for writing my to do list is a red fine point sharpie, my company color is red, one office wall is red…net: i am a bit of a red whore and this brand’s use of red makes me happy to my core.)


with none of the labels having any english on them i am not even sure which individual flavor i bought.  thinking i might save that as a special treat for a dinner party…

and look at how beautiful the individual pieces are…just like edible fimo beads!


seems that in all my excitement i never quite got to the dazzling delicious and beautiful chocolate. consider this the first of many memories of budapest…

stopped me in my tracks!

(so the last pig post was a little disturbing so i wanted to lighten things up a little with this stunner of a package…)

in chicago we have a relatively new food market called plum.  they are like whole foods in their more natural food but they also have a pretty broad selection of international brands and products…and a cheese selection that can bring a cheese lover to their knees!

while shopping for a variety of cheeses for the annual christmas tree party, a package on a shelf near the end cap caught my eye.

it was true love at first sight.

i couldn’t take my eyes off of it.

it exuded a sense of quality through its branding and old school, almost vintage material and design.

i had to have it.

did i know what the product actually was?  i kinda read the label but i did not care and it did not matter what it said.  probably strawberry related and who does not like strawberries?

then i looked at the price.  this led me to re-read the product description because i assumed it is a strawberry related product due to the package but there must be more in there at this price point.  are they diamond encrusted strawberry fruits in syrup?  a caviar and strawberry fruit and syrup mixture?  alas, it was just 21 ounces of fabbri strawberry fruit and syrup.  but for true love there was no dissuading me from my purchase.



chicago, 12.2013

beautiful right?  i will let you take a moment to fully grasp the beauty of this package.  i do hope that the density and quality of the material is coming through in the photo (otherwise i might sound a little more off than usual).

i still have yet to try it.  i am not sure what i am saving it for exactly but i am optimistic that it will be the best “strawberries in heavy syrup” that i have ever consumed!

it is not often that a package will stop me in my tracks.  but when it does, the wonderment around the power of a successful package just makes me smile!

curious as to the price?  i could just tell you but think it might be more fun if you try guessing in the comment box below (and no cheating!)…


great idea but….

imagine it, walking down the toothpaste aisle and you see a new package structure unlike anything you have seen before for that category.  what do you do?  have an in-store photo shoot and buy the new structure of course!  or wait, that might just be me….IMG_5427

chicago 8.2013

well, it did not take long until the excitement turned to frustration and sadness.  like shaving cream packages, a little bit of product would come out of the dispensing hole after you are done dispensing.  no problem with shaving cream so why would that be different here?  i might be an odd bird but for me there is something not so appetizing about feeling a hardened chunk of toothpaste while brushing.

so this led to the need to scrape the hardened nubbin of toothpaste off the end of the dispenser before dispensing each time.  i used the cap as it seemed like the logical choice but then it can no longer serve as a cap as it is now the receptacle of the hardened and wasted toothpaste.  so now the lid with scrapings and dispenser sit separately on my bathroom counter – – so attractive.


why does this bother me so?  well…

– it adds an extra step to my process (you may argue that i have to take lid off regular toothpaste but that is an already entrenched step that does not matter – – this structure demands a NEW step/behavior which makes it feel different/cumbersome while not delivering any perceived consumer benefit)

– it is wasteful.  i am actually throwing away product with every use and there is nothing i can do to stop it….and for $6.99 i seem to have higher expectations.  note the waste from 15 uses in the picture below.  that could have been 4 brushings!


the package is almost empty and i am excited to get back to my trusty old tube of toothpaste.  i am glad that they are looking to innovate but sad that this direction did not add any value or even fun to my teeth brushing experience.  but i am still optimistic of what the future might bring!

anyone else try this package?  what were your thoughts?

other innovative or notable innovations in the dental care category or another category that you would like to share?  please share!

i would like to add that i called the customer service line on the can and shared my issues with the nice gentleman on the other end of the line. he said he would share my thoughts with the brand team and offered me some coupons for my frustrations.

late night surprise

i understand that i should probably work on getting out more or finding some new hobbies because this package made my pretty happy.

picture it, 1:30am and i am entering my hotel room for the night.  i enter the bathroom and am thrilled by the new and innovative packaging for the soap – it has a vertical orientation!


philadelphia, 2.2014

it is possible that this soap package isn’t that new but i am more of a Starwood gal and this was a Marriott.  honestly, bathroom products at hotels just aren’t like they used to be.  remember the days of Molton Brown? shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion at Westin’s?  ahh….

back to the soap.  i immediately opened the package because i just had to experience the soap shape (at 1:30am) and it was pretty awesome.  It didn’t have the fun massaging bumps/texture (which just feels fancier) but definitely different.


ultimately, this just shows how a little innovation can go a long way with a packaging junkie like me…


thank you tory burch

so it isn’t too often that i have the pleasure of ordering something online and find myself needing to sit down while opening the snail mail box because it is so well done.  in preparation of an Indian wedding i was attending, i ordered the most ornate sandals i could find.  Tory Burch helped make the magic happen.

upon opening the box i was greeted with Tory Burch branding on the inside of the main shipping box and an orange paper wrap around the box itself with a greeting from Tory, thanking me for my purchase and her hopes that I love my new purchase.



chicago, 2013

well done Tory.  i am yours.  (and keep in mind that at this point, i still have not even seen the shoes yet!)

i then carefully unstuck the gold sticker so i could get to the shoes.  i was greeted then by a beautiful box and a well thought out/unique envelope (that even included a sample of her perfume [brilliant]) with my receipt.  finally, at the base of the shoe box was a high quality shoe bag.


i am so impressed with how she has created such a complete brand experience from a simple online order.  many many thanks!

ohh and of note, the shoes were perfection!