Monday, February 15, 2010

An Ode to the Old Days...errr...before

Dear Celestial Seasonings

Who thought it would be a good idea to cut your box of tea from 20 bags to 18? Sure, this makes sense in your single variety boxes, but in your sampler pack it is ludacris. 20 bags divided perfectly into 5 different flavors, but I can most assuredly say that 18 does not divide evenly by 5.

I know I can look at the positive. It's a surprise in every pack to figure out which flavors come with 3 and which come with 4. And, really, it's only cut by 2 bags. BUT, I feel slighted oh heavenly flavoring tea company. I am not excited by this "innovation" at all. I would have rather seen you increase the price of the box than cut it by an uneven number.

I pay with coupons anyway.

So I work in what is called the CPG (Consumer product goods) industry, more specifically in the c-store (Convenience) channel. I rarely talk about work on this blog, but see, I do work and know at least a little about a lot. ;)

Therefore it stands that I know full well about these package changes as a way to maintain or increase unit sales without losing margin in an economy that won't support too many price changes, either way. If prices increase, customers won't pay and will find a cheaper decent alternative. If prices decrease (for an equal amount), the manufacturer/wholesaler/retailer won't be able to sustain their business and ultimately end up in a layoff, bankruptcy, or other aspects of financial distress which in many cases end up hurting the average Joe as much as increasing the price does.

Nevertheless, I don't like it. Not one bit. This Article on explains the situation in better detail than I could or care to at this moment. Most importantly (to me) is the lack of integrity these organizations are showing in changing package sizes without notifiying the customer. Usually, the size delta is so small that it really doesn't matter anyway and we could probably use less consumption in most households. Even still, the point is that they certainly don't advertise the package size changes, not even with a "new and improved packaging" indicator. Many times they do as much as possible to make the changes with the smallest noticeable sensory changes (visual, tactical, etc.) as possible so that customers won't notice the package change and won't feel slighted.

CPG are underestimating your customers. The consumer is smarter than that. I am smarter than that. I may not notice the change while I'm at the store with a 3 year old begging to walk, threatening to jump out of the cart, or begging to be spiderman climbing the shelves, but don't be fooled...I will notice. And when I do...the once strong loyalty I had to your brand will be damaged severely.

Just be honest. We all know that the economy is bad. In fact, the average Joe's pocket book is looking for ways to shop smart and be healthy. I'm not a marketing person by trade but even I can come up with several ways you could capitalize on this economy without attempting to deceive your customers. I usually wouldn't say that you OWE us anything...but in this case, honesty and integrity is definitely a good approach.

In case you are interested, here is a site I briefly encountered that had some information on consumer watchdog type information. I found it to be a good site to keep my eye on.

I recommend looking down the left navigation column under "Ad Categories" and choosing the category that you are most interested in.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Year of Patience

I'm not naive enough to believe that there will be a theme for my life for every year and that year will last exactly 365 days and that at the passing of each of those time periods I will perfectly pass from one phase of my life to the next. Nevertheless I've mentally compartmentalized last year into a particular theme and it seems to follow an appropriate metaphor to continue this year on the next stage in the process. So I will. And it's my metaphor so the fact that it's not a perfect one will be something you just have to get over.

Side note...I've recently learned that people don't think I'm as funny as I think I am. So, I guess it's possible that my humor doesn't come through in my blogs either. I've learned IRL to tell people when I'm being funny, which makes them crack up. Unfortunately I don't think they're cracking up because I actually am funny, but, instead because it's funny that I'm telling them I'm funny. Which makes me even more funny. Nevertheless the last statement in the last paragraph was meant to be funny. So there. (also meant to be funny...see...I'm funny!).

Back to the point of this blog. I've determined that the theme of last year was all about laying the foundation. And I was the dirt. ;) (that was funny!) No really though, think about the process of laying a foundation. The actual laying of the concrete may not seem to be very difficult. I mean, not to take away anything from those who do that on a regular basis because I certainly couldn't do the job for a long time, but in terms of the whole foundation laying process as I understand it this is really the capstone activity. It's the prep work for a foundation that is really the hardwork. It's the painstaking measurement and design work that can (I assume) be mentally exhaustive. Then, its the digging. The nonstop, back-breaking digging. And leveling. And digging some more. And leveling some more. And then eventually there you are....filthy and exhausted and tired and ready to give up for the night. And it's only then that you get to backup that concrete truck and direct the flow where it needs to go. Yes, there's some smoothing and filling work that needs to happen still, but in the grand scheme of things, that's much easier (and quicker, not necesarily by choice!) than the work done to prepare for the foundation to be laid.

That was my 2009. The foundation laying year. Spiritually, physically, mentally, was all digging and sorting through dirt to get to where I (and my family) need to be for whatever is coming in the future.

Now, usually when you lay a foundation there is a plan involved. You are laying it the way you are laying it for a reason. The right thickness, dimensions, etc. You have a vision for the future on what the end result will be. In fact if you are going through the homebuilding process and have laid a foundation without first drawing up plans I'd strongly suggest that you take a break and figure out the plans before moving forward. that was funny.

Actually though it's a good point...because sometimes before you can move forward with laying a foundation some of the arguably hardest work is demolition and tearing down what was previously planned as the ultimate home. It's easier to move forward when the new one can be built on the old foundation, but that's not always possible. Which means to lay a new foundation you need to remove everything old and only then you can move forward. Lots and lots of work.

We certainly had work that needed to be done to remove our old plans in replacement for the new ones.

So now, although I believe there probably is some more foundation work wrapping up and we'll always need to be inspecting that foundation going forward to make sure it's healthy, it's now time to move forward to the next step....which I'll call patience because I have nothing else to call it. And this is where the analogy kind of falls through. But not really...I think it will work.

Patience. Waiting for the foundation to dry. Waiting for inspections and approvals and funding and good weather. Waiting for supplies and laborers and the plans of others to fall together to make it possible for ours to proceed. Waiting for The Architect to give us the go ahead.

The Architect. If nothing else was learned last year it is that we, for sure, are not the architect of the future. We could be, if we wanted to take that role I guess, but we'd fail dramatically because we do not thave the certification to take on that role. Our plans would crash to the they did...and I'd much rather not go through that again. So, instead we wait for the supreme Architect to move. I have a feeling this is just the beginning of our 'year of patience' whether it lasts 365 days or not...we have a lot ahead of us.

Right now we're being patient in selling our home and/or buying a new one. We're being patient in waiting for the answer on whether or not we will continue to live here or somewhere else in the future. We're being patient to hear back from CPS on our license. We're being patient to figure out HOW we'll hear back about our license and then start the search for our forever family. We're being patient to figure out if we'll get calls right away with foster-to-adopt children or if we'll turn a corner and start looking at straight-adopt cases first. We're being patient to figure out how this will all affect our lives as we know it.

And yet I can know one thing for sure....whatever comes next, I will need patience to continue. So, bring it on...and as we continue to wait on the Lord and act out our patience as we move forward in daily life we will slowly see the progress He's making. Then we know at some point we'll be able to see at least a glimpse of what the Architect's plans are for our lives.