Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Going "Green"?...Your customers will impact your journey

Just over a year ago the snack company Frito Lay took the initiative to go green. Their first attempt was to redesign the Sun Chips bag making it 100% compostable. For several years Frito Lay has been developing and testing prototypes for the new bag. They worked and designed the bag with a laboratory in Mt. Vernon, ME. During the first test the results showed that at 130 F, the bags were able to break down in 12-16 weeks. They were aiming for these temperatures because they are typical of an industrial compost facility.
During the second test however, the goal was to design a bag where temperature from the environment was not a variable. Finding the right mixture allowed the bag to generate its own heat and reach temperatures over 130F within the first two weeks of decomposing. I believe the second test is more realistic than the first test/design that required that the bag make it to the landfill in order to decompose. They chose the second version as the standard for the new bag in effort to go green. Then, began to sell the new Eco-friendly bag to the public.
However, after all of the research that went in to design process and years of testing to find the right mixture for the Eco-friendly bag, it quickly came to a halt. After a short run on the market, the “Eco-friendly” or “Green” bags were criticized for the distraction and extreme noise the new material caused. Frito Lay reported a decrease between 15-35% in sales after the Eco-friendly bag was released. In response to the significant decrease in sales and endless consumer complaints, Frito Lay finally took action. Their solution was to discontinue the Eco-friendly bag and continue the use of the old bag moving forward. Frito Lay said they “value and listen to their customers and this is what they want”.
When conducting a MBNQA there is a great deal of emphasis around Customer Focus category. In this category labeled (3.0), the assessment will gage how a company interacts and responds to the needs of their customers. Frito Lay discontinued an Eco-friendly bag that is better for the environment both short and long term. Followed by the disengagement of becoming the first green company to redesign the standard material for snack bags. Keeping in mid that customer complaints of “high noise levels” caused by the new material play a huge role in the decision to discontinue the Eco-friendly bag, and revert back to original style. That being said, do you think Frito Lay made the right choice discontinuing the bag? Should customer complaints in any organization take priority over product redesign in effort to be “green”, if the products quality is not altered in any way?

1 comment:

  1. I think Frito Lay made a good choice to try to continiously improve however during their strategic planning they neglected customer focus. Customers care more about the interaction between Frito Lay bags than the eco-friendliness of the bags. Frito Lay used the "Going Green" strategy to enhance sales because it has been proven to be a profitable marketing strategy. However after alot of research and development their measurement of sales decreased drastically. I think Frito Lays continous improvement was in the right direction but they should have invovlved customer focus in the strategic planning process.
    -Charlie Douglas