October 5, 2010

Peace and Quiet

Whenever the weather would turn stormy the skies above my childhood house got noisy with low flying aircraft.

We couldn’t do anything about it, the house was under an alternate flight path for Houston Intercontinental Airport.

While those plane engines all but drowned out the noise of our dog’s breathing, the sounds couldn’t hold a candle to the noise made when opening a bag of Sun Chips.

Much to the dismay of 5 year old boys, Frito Lay announced it would be discontinuing the 100% compostable bags.

Think of biodegradable bags like the Tablet PCs released several years ago.  They didn’t catch on.  Fast forward, make some tweaks, find the right target audience and you have key ingredients for an iPad success.

Where did Frito Lay’s process fail that it allowed the Sun Chips packaging to become so loud and obtrusive that it dwarfed the sound of its product?

While that question will be the focus of business school case studies, here is my perspective.  In the rush to be “green” and friendly to moms who make the buying decisions in families, Frito Lay might have rushed its own internal processes to be first to market.

The first to market doesn’t always win, unless it is supported by sound research.

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