Why do we buy what we buy?
This question popped up in my mind during my last action. My parents always prefer to buy and eat food that is ‘fresh’, that is, it comes without any external packaging, is natural/organic, and is bought after a thorough inspection from all five senses as illustrated in my last blog. And then there is me – the fast millennial- with the modern grocery store on my fingertips and always basing my decisions on fancy packaging that is very loud and pompous and makes you want to own it. We think about what we are eating later, the first thought usually is ‘ooh it looks so yummy’. So essentially the only sense of ours that fast food engages, before we buy it, is sight – and sometimes smell initially.
What if someone redesigned the experience of buying fast food and make it similar to how my parents engage with buying produce for their slow food? What would that look like and how would it influence what we put in our bodies?
While thinking aloud these things standing in the supermarket, my sister interrupted my thoughts with an irritated comment –
“Why the hell can’t I see what’s this made of exactly!?”
She was referring to packet of ‘organic’ cookies she wanted to buy and wanted to see what was the organic ingredient in them. That gave me an idea. I decided to do a quick exercise. Collect wrappers of common fast food and repackage them to bring to forefront the only information that in my opinion should influence buying practices – ingredients, price and vegetarian/ non vegetarian tag. And I involved people from my class by asking them to share a packet of their most recent/ favourite fast food. I wanted to see if we would still be excited about confusing our favourite brand of chocolate once it was stripped of everything that distracted the consumer and could just see the actual things we were consuming through that particular fast food.
So here are some of the redesigned packages.
This exercise that I called ‘Fast Packaging’. And I called it that because it is packaging that is to the point. Gives you the information that is probably of utmost importance while buying fast food.
Does this change how we buy our food, if so how?
Does it make us stop for a minute and look beyond our tastebuds?
What would it be like if we were to have a unified system of packaging like this? How would it change the capitalistic approach that has taken over our food shelves?
I tried to remove the clutter from the packaging of fast food. Do you perceive this exercise the the same way? What would it look like if our food was decluttered?
Do you find the marshmallow bag still cute enough to purchase? Or are you more concerned by what goes inside your body when you purchase that?
How would this approach to fast food packaging impact our spending habits?
How would it impact the design industry that thrives off the branding and packaging opportunities from the fast food sector?
This ‘fast’ action really excited to think about how the experience of a shopper in a market is designed and how branding plays a crucial role in shaping our lifestyles and futures. When we see a product branded as ‘organic’ or ‘environment friendly’ – do we actually stop to think and see what exactly makes it so? Fast food is synonymous with volume, pace and price value, not necessarily quality. Slow food is the opposite of fast food. It would be an interesting to investigate how to study and slow down the patterns of human consumption.