Solve 'Wrap Rage' Problem for Untold Riches and Fame

Last Updated Nov 18, 2008 11:45 AM EST

Solve 'Wrap Rage' Problem for Untold Riches and FameEvery day entrepreneurs wake and wonder what their next hit product will be.

Go back to bed for another 30 minutes -- I have the answer for you.

Solve the wrap rage problem.

Wrap rage, as you well know on Christmas morning, is that rising temper you feel as you try to cut through the almost unconquerable clamshell plastic wrap surrounding your child's gifts. Forget scissors -- you need a diamond-tip tunnel digger to get somewhere.

This packaging is so difficult to open that just the act of trying sends 3,000 to 6,000 people a year to hospital emergency rooms, according to various reports.

So there's your business opportunity.

Now, you'll have some competition. Amazon has already announced it is working with vendors including Mattel to create "frustration-free" packaging. Innovation expert Scott Anthony, writing on Harvard Business Publishing, believes Amazon could win a real competitive advantage with this move.

But the solution developed by the online retailer won't really solve the shoplifting problems that brick-and-mortar retailers face.

So your deliverables include:

  • Create wrapping that potential buyers can see through to the product inside.
  • Make it secure enough so that shoplifters can't easily open it, or that includes some other deterrent.
  • The container must be rigid enough to afford protection during international transport.
  • Have an easy-open mechanism for buyers once they get the product home.
A recent article in the New York Times outlined some of the attempts to come up with new packaging. Sony may be on the right track with a wrapper that's easy to open -- but makes a loud noise when you do so.

You've still got time to come up with the perfect product solution. If you do you'll be rich, your name will be spoken with the reverence usually reserved for the likes of Mother Teresa, and your good soul will be prayed for each Christmas morning by grateful parents.

(Clamshell image by miss rogue, CC 2.0)

  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.