business news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times reports this morning about a new milk jug design being adopted by Wal-Mart and Costco, one that reportedly is cheaper to ship, better for the environment, keeps milk fresher and costs less.

Which sounds like a win-win-win-win proposition.

Except that customers don't like it.

“The jugs have no real spout, and their unorthodox shape makes consumers feel like novices at the simple task of pouring a glass of milk,” the Times writes, noting that several consumers that it talked to absolutely hate the thing. “But retailers are undeterred by the prospect of upended bowls of Cheerios. The new jugs have many advantages from their point of view, and Sam’s Club intends to roll them out broadly, making them more prevalent.

“The redesign of the gallon milk jug, experts say, is an example of the changes likely to play out in the American economy over the next two decades. In an era of soaring global demand and higher costs for energy and materials, virtually every aspect of the economy needs to be re-examined, they say, and many products must be redesigned for greater efficiency.”

Even if customers don't like it.

KC's View:
Because I buy virtually all my milk at Stew Leonard’s, which only sells it one way – a half-gallon cardboard container – I have no personal experience with these new jugs. But I promise to pick one up next time I’m either at Costco or Wal-Mart, and report back.

It seems to me that this is an instance where shoppers need to be educated about why the change is taking place. Tell me why the new jugs have been adopted – and all the reasons cited in the Times story sound like good ones – and I’ll be more willing to go along. But just make the change and don't give me an explanation, and I’ll be less accepting.