Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dove Bars & Pancakes

Notice anything... AWRY? You can't see because they no longer show the number on the front of the box, but Dove bars only have three bars in the box. I'm not sure when they started doing this, but it has to be recent; I buy these pretty regularly. It's interesting that, instead of raising the price, they've reduced the number in the package. This is a trick that lots of companies will pull in an attempt to avoid exposure and possibly piss off consumers. I'm pointing this out not as an attempt to defame Dove but to simply hold it up as an example of the greater economy. I think that in better times, they would have had no problems raising the price.

I don't think I've ever discussed my love for the pre-made jugs of Bisquik. I don't use them, but I still think that they are marketing brilliance epitomized. Let's face it, pancake mix isn't exactly a red-hot and innovative market, so any advancements in that area are going to come from marketing. Look at it with a critical eye and it's a profligate waste, in the same vein as 100-calorie packs and packaged salad mixes. But I'm not discussing whether it's a good deal or not, I'm simply in awe of the idea.

Industry Renames HFCS

Apparently, instead of, ohhh I dunno', NOT using high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) anymore, they're going to take a page from the American automakers playbook and simply rename the offending ingredient! The new name? Corn sugar.

You can practically smell the Calvin Klein aftershave coming off the MBA that thought up this brilliant plan. Everything about it is retarded. First, technically, it's correct. But they'd still have to call it high fructose corn sugar, because HFCS is not simply corn sugar. That would be corn syrup, which no one has an issue with.

First off, saying that there is no evidence that HFCS is linked with health problems is a total lie. There is conflicting evidence, but that is far from no evidence. We have a variety of studies showing that there may be a link between HFCS consumption and lower-quality blood chemistry and weight gain. The fact that there may be any link at all shows that, if alternatives exist, we shouldn't eat it.

Just stop using it! Use ordinary corn syrup. Use sugar. Use molasses. As a manufacturer, I understand that you have to think about your bottom line. I also understand that government subsidies, tariffs, and other regulatory muckings-about have made sugar more expensive than it should be (GO-GO Gadget government intervention!). But think about your demographic groups.

People who are very concerned about HFCS will appreciate, and also be willing to pay the small premium for, your use sugar. For example, if you have to raise the price of Chips Ahoy by $0.50, that is a significant percentage increase, but it's not large in practical terms. The people who cannot afford that increase or are unwilling to pay are very unlikely to be the demographic that cares or is even aware of the controversy.

Split your demographics. Make Chips Ahoy Natural for the markets that care and continue to make the ordinary Chips Ahoy for other markets. Don't try this semantic dodge, it will just piss people off.

Goodbye High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hello Corn Sugar (Signed, Corn Industry) (Huffington Post)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Starbucks Stuff

I was in Starbucks today at around 5pm and saw something I haven't seen before. People! On Laptops! Hangin' out! While I would imagine that the crowd of digerati (is that word even still being used?) at Coffee Exchange at the same time is five times the size, it's still impressive. I saw four people. Considering that, in the past, I would see one or two at most, this is a big success. I'd be curious to see the actual connection numbers, but Starbucks will undoubtedly never release the raw data, because that will just show how stupid they were to have not done this years ago.