Recently, in an effort to reduce transportation and refrigeration costs, Wal-Mart and Costco embraced a new style of milk carton. The jug is square… which allows more of the product to be shipped and stored with less energy. (There was wasteful “air space” taken-up by the previous bottle design, because of the neck of the old-fashioned milk jug.)
How have the new cartons been received by consumers? There have been mixed reactions, according to this recent story in the New York Times. Some find them to spill too easily. But much of the push-back was calmed, when consumers began to understand why the change was necessary.
Implications: Now, more than ever, change is inevitable. The cost of energy (and other raw materials) will impose the need for changes in product and packaging design in the very foreseeable future. The NY Times story cited above leaves us with some key questions:
Has your company considered every option (like the very carton) when looking for ways to reduce the carbon footprint or energy efficiency of your products?
Will your customers be ready to accept the changes you’re contemplating?
What can you do to mitigate, rather than aggravate, the frustration that consumers might feel as they adapt to changes in products, packaging and/or prices?
Could a solid education, public relations, or marketing campaign help people realize that the change demonstrates your response to an important issue, such as reducing energy consumption?
The fuel economy will force virtually every company to consider new efficiency options. While I cannot begin to suggest what might mean to your company, specifically, I am confident of this much: There will be no sacred cows.Mike Anderson