Frito-Lay Removes SunChips Packaging From the Compost Heap

Frito-Lay Sends Noisy, ‘Green’ SunChips Bag to the Dump (USA Today)

Snack Food Company Problem with PackagingWhen it comes to making business decisions, marketers often find powerful forces affecting their decisions are located outside the organization.  As we discuss in our Managing External Forces tutorial, these forces are diverse and include economic, legal, governmental and competitive factors, to name a few.

Seasoned marketers know that it is not wise to ignore these forces, especially those that hold the potential to impact the organization directly in a financial or competitive way.

In other cases, marketers experience forces that are not considered strong and may not require immediate attention.  While not as important as an external force that could weaken the company financially, a marketer may be drawn to these lesser forces for other reasons, such as demonstrating support for a specific issue.  For these situations, a marketer may find it advantageous to embrace these issues even though there is no requirement legally or even ethically to do so, nor will it likely have a significant impact on the bottom line.  Instead, the marketing organization feels it is just the right thing to do.

Yet, sometimes a change for reasons of “good intentions” do not work out as planned.  The marketer is then faced with the tough decision of whether to return to their old ways, which they felt compelled to change in the first place.  For instance, this story looks at how Frito-Lays’ intention to provide its SunChips snacks in biodegradable packaging proved more difficult than expected.  What is most interesting is the problem is not due to one of the main factors marketers general consider when it comes to package design (e.g., product protection, visibility, cost, etc.).  Instead, the problem is with customers’ response to their experience with the package.  Namely, customers did not like the perceived loud noise that resulted from handling the snack’s bag.

…the company is yanking the noisy material from the packages of five of six SunChips flavors immediately.  The company is returning them to their former bags that can’t be recycled — but won’t wake the neighbors — while it works frantically to come up with a new, quieter eco-friendly bag.

For their next attempt at environmental-friendly packaging, what should Frito-Lay do in terms of marketing research to possibly avoid a similar situation?

Image by Garden Organic

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