It's not often you get to present concepts to a global company with more than $2.6 billion in operating revenue, but for BYU industrial design students, it's just part of class.
Students in Bryan Howell's third-year studio class spent the past semester brainstorming product ideas and researching millennial cooking preferences for the Tupperware Brands Corporation, the direct sales giant beloved around the world.
It's not the first time BYU's industrial design program has linked up with Tupperware (BYU has also sent many interns to Tupperware's design team over the years), and based on the promising student work, it likely won't be the last.
"We really wanted to capitalize on the students' strengths," said Nathan Shirley, design manager at Tupperware and BYU alum. "Millennials have an entirely unique and modern approach, so we knew they would bring diverse ideas to the table that are relevant to them."
The students had three main suggestions for strengthening the company's connection with millennials:
- Produce authentic, sustainable, and versatile products
- Create a meaningful online presence
- Continue to evolve home sales parties with workshops for learning about new foods and cooking methods in a highly social and interactive setting
"Inviting friends into your home to sell to them is a little strange to this age group," Howell said. "Millennials are very different from their parents—it's been a real eye-opener for me and I think it has for our Tupperware contacts as well."
Product ideas from the students were also eye-openers.
Senior Angela LaFontaine concocted a "Tupper Cares Project," a concept somewhat similar to shoemaker Toms' idea of "buy a product, give a product." Her concept suggested Tupperware send an identical kit of kitchen tools to crisis areas around the world, such as Syrian refugees, for each kit purchased here.
Meanwhile, industrial design major Millie Parkinson proposed a multi-purpose ceramic baking dish, storage container and display bowl saying, "If my friends are going to buy something for $50 or $60, they want it to look like it costs $50 to $60, and be able to use it in multiple situations."
Student Kat Willett even went as far to suggest a line of entirely biodegradable products that break down naturally in 47 days when buried in dirt.
"Much of what the BYU students are doing is right in line with trends we strongly support," said Michael Wiggins, senior designer at Tupperware who joined Shirley on campus for the presentations. "They put a lot great research and thought into their concepts."
The students also recommended new approaches to the Tupperware Party format, suggesting providing meaningful experiences cooking and eating with friends while using the products.
The Tupperware team praised the student ideas (hinting at the possibility that some of the concepts might warrant attention as future Tupperware products) and is looking for ways to continue the collaboration.
"The presentations from the BYU students were excellent—they were professional level," Shirley said. "The caliber of their work was superb all around."