I am privy to a fair amount of internal business communications that tout the commitment to lean operations, sourcing for best prices, cutting waste from processes, eliminating actual waste from product, etc. They are all important areas to be managed. For all the excitement generated internally, you might be surprised by the customer’s point of view.
Quite frankly, we couldn’t care less. Perhaps we should, but we don’t. We simply want the best product at the best price. We want a product that lives up to the promise the brand makes.
I had an interesting discussion with a friend in the grocery business last week. I live in what is called the fruit belt of Michigan. Yet, our local grocer sells California strawberries in the middle of Michigan berry season. We are the blueberry capital of the world, yet the berries in the store are from Georgia. When I asked my friend why, he stated that the shelf life of the local berries was not as good as the berries that had been genetically engineered for appearance, transit, and shelf life. I suggested they had less taste and juice. He repeated. It is shelf life that is important.
Shelf life is important to the grocer. It helps control their costs and reduces spoilage. I get it. I also understand the eye appeal of those beautiful red strawberries with no flaws. Except one. They don’t taste like strawberries. Heck, they don’t taste at all. Wonder why Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods does so well? This is part of the answer.
From a positive experience, I am writing this while seated in an Aeron chair. I have back issues and find it difficult to sit for any extended period. The Aeron solved that problem. The Aeron wasn’t the lowest priced chair I looked at. It was the one driven by customer need’s in its design. Could they make it cheaper? Sure, but it would risk failing to fulfill the brand promise of a solution to the desk worker’s productivity problem. There is tremendous brand loyalty to Herman Miller because they deliver as promised.
The strawberries meet a brand promise as well. Extended shelf life and less spoilage. The problem is that the promise is to the grocer. The promise of flavorful fresh berries for the consumer gets lost. Thank goodness for local farm stands. We are not storing our berries on a shelf, we are eating them.
The bottom line to me is that we don’t care about your processes and what you do to get the product to us. We only care that it fulfills our expectations. You should too.