It’s Just Too Loud Being Green

People say they want green options.  They want cars that can go 100 miles on a single gallon of gas.  They want their water heated by the sun and they want all their garbage to be bio-degradable.  But only if people don’t have to deviate from their norm.  In other words, don’t make it inconvenient. 

Over the years, there has been a clammoring by consumers for companies to become more green.  As consumers, we feel it is our moral obligation to force companies to make choices that improve their “greenness”.   We feel that if we can help large companies do the right thing then 1) we don’t have to or 2) we can support them better.

Well, about 18 months ago, Frito-Lay decided to create the world’s first chip bag that is bio-degradable for their SunChips bag.   Consumers cheered the effort.  The only problem with the new bag was that it was noisy.  Really noisy. 

Sun Chips Compostable Bag

Sun Chips Compostable Bag

Of course, the Marketers at Frito-Lay said that this was a good thing.  It showed consumers that they were different from the other brands in the snack aisle.  A perfect storm of brand differentiation and consumer / eco-friendly response.  They said that people would talk about the bag and sales would take off because the novelty of the bag would entice trial.

They were partly right.  People did talk about it.  Just look no further than Facebook where you can find a group called “Sorry But I Can’t Hear You Over This SunChips Bag.”  And as for sales, SunChips sales have declined more than 11% over the past 52 weeks. 

Because of this, Frito-Lay has buried the compostable bag on all but one of their SunChip flavors.  So here is an example of how even when a company has all great supporting data, makes the right decisions trying to do the right thing and deliver what their customers want, they can still lose. 

What we need to remember when we are stepping out of the box is that Karma is not always on our side.  Consumers frequently contradict themselves.  For example, while most mothers say they want “greener packaging,” in the products that they purchase for their families, they are also are the biggest purchasers of single-serve chip bags.  Go figure.

Hats off to Frito-Lay for being the first to take a step in the right direction.  Being green isn’t easy.  Nor is being the first.  For those of us who commend brands who take risks, listen to their consumers and be innovative, a little noise is always a good thing.

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