The Product Box game is a fun, fast creativity exercise where you guide your kids to design a product box with a particular customer in mind. The objective of this exercise is to practice creativity within constraints and to practice getting into the mind of a customer. What you’ll have your kids do is design the front and side of a product’s packaging targeting a particular customer. The more mundane the product and exotic the customer, the more fun and engaging it should be. I chose a toaster for our product and Eskimos for the customer.
Step 1: Introduction
Introduce the game by finding some product packing in your house. It could be anything, really, but a product box would be ideal. Present the packaging and guide your kids through a discussion about who the packaging is trying to “speak to.” Point out where the designers talk about features, provide instructions, or speak to customers’ problems. Be thorough, as this will prime the creative landscape for your kids and give them seeds to build from.
Step 2: Constraints
Next, talk about how the product box designers have very little space on the packaging to capture the attention of their ideal customer and convince the customer to buy the product. Remember when we talked about creativity before? This is more of that convergent thinking. Circle back to the example product packaging and highlight how the designers felt the design conveyed the most critical/important points. Suggest other things they could’ve put on the box but couldn’t because of space constraints. Note the difference in design between the front of the box, sides, and back of the box. You might ask them why they think that might be.
Step 3: Setup
Choose a product and pick a customer type. Set a timer for 5 minutes to brainstorm ideas for the box front and one side. Feel free to participate, but make sure you don’t dominate the game. Once the 5 minutes are up, select the “best” three best things for the box front and the “best” two things for the side.
Before beginning, remind your kids of the rules for brainstorming:
– Defer judgment (no one says if an idea is good or bad)
– Focus on quantity over quality
– Crazy ideas are welcome
– Encourage them to build upon each other’s ideas
For convergence, we did a form dot voting. I gave each of the boys 10 votes they could split among whatever ideas they liked. If they wanted one particular idea on the box design, they could assign it all 10 votes, or they could put five on one and one on five or any mix. The top vote-getters were the final selections. My boys would’ve preferred Rock-Paper-Scissors, but I didn’t have the patience for it.
This version of the game is a much scaled-down version of the one for adults and is straightforward and fun to do. The real power in this is the new perspective your kids will have and the countless opportunities to flex and practice these concepts. Just this past Saturday, my older son and I were at Costco picking up some butter & cheese. We had fun looking at the different packaging for the butter and talking about who the designers were targeting with their packaging. It was an easy way to reinforce thinking about a customer, what’s important to them, what problems they might have, and how they might be solved. This game is not original. I first encountered it as a workshop facilitator training other faculty in Entrepreneurial Mindset, and I believe it originates in a book published in 2006 by Luke Hohmann titled Innovation Games. You can find it on Amazon here. (Not an affiliate link).