Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Unbag The Innovation

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

Customers don’t always enjoy innovations, especially when they negatively impact the overall experience of a product or service. You can’t force customers to like (or buy) what you’re selling, no matter how good (or good for you and the planet) it might be.

Frito Lay’s 100% biodegradable packaging for Sun Chips for instance didn’t go over too well it seems. For anyone that’s eaten from a regular size bag of Sun Chips recently, you already know what I’m talking about. The bags are downright noisy. They’ve got more crunch than the actual chips.

Personally, I don’t really mind the crunchy bag. It actually makes the Sun Chips experience slightly more unique than eating other kinds of snack chips. Other chips just seem slightly boring to me now. But then again I’m not trying to eat chips during orchestral concerts, at the library, or during pressure-packed putting situations at the Ryder Cup. I also own a few bowls (normally used for cereal) into which I can pour the chips when it’s absolutely necessary to remain quiet. I know not everyone that buys a $3 bag of Sun Chips can afford to buy a three-pack of reusable plastic bowls from the dollar store.

Apparently enough people complained about the 100% biodegradable bags (or rather apparently stopped buying the product because of the bag and thus revenues declined) that Frito Lay (owned by PepsiCo) decided to return to the old, less noisy, plastic packaging for most Sun Chips varieties.

It’s sort of too bad that something relatively innovative and environmentally friendly couldn’t stay on store shelves. It’s not really surprising though. The color of money trumps green every day. Innovations need to cater to what’s wanted, not necessarily what’s needed.

I’m still waiting for less noisy packaging on my Dentyne Ice gum. The enclosed foil wrapper makes it difficult to be discrete at my kid’s school concerts. Despite the dirty looks I sometimes get at these events I haven’t complained to the manufacturer yet.

Garden Salsa Sun Chips are awesome by the way.

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