Running alongside my occasional series on Management Insults, I thought I’d add a set of entries entitled, “Contempt for Customers” that will highlight some of the ways in which companies, largely through their marketing materials or product packaging demonstrate their contempt for their customers. Funnily enough I don’t think there will be any shortage of material for these blogs!
It would be difficult these days for anyone to fail to know that there are concerns about our stewardship of the planet and how it is in a state of considerable stress environmentally.
Most of us are familiar with the concept of organic produce and the need to ensure that crops are grown in a sustainable fashion – that is efficiently and with the lowest possible impact on the environment.
One aspect of this is a growing concern about something called food miles. Over 90% of the food on our supermarket shelves is imported. While it may cost the supermarkets themselves less to source their produce this way, they are not picking up the tab for the environmental damage that this results in. A recent Defra report estimates the cost of food miles at £9 billion each year.
This is a sufficiently serious problem that the UK Government has decided to take action and is planning to reduce the environmental and social costs of food transport in the UK by 20 per cent by 2012.
This is not news – it is very widely understood throughout the food industry and the retail sectors. Already the supermarket chains ARE doing something about it – albeit we could question how seriously, how quickly and what their motives are, given that they knew about all this for a long time but only appeared to take action when there became a consumer demand.
So you would think that food producers would also be sensitive to it; would do all they could to source locally; would minimise their transport impacts where they can and would endeavour to offset ‘unavoidable’ impacts using one of the schemes set up for the purpose – through which an organisation establishes woodland or other habitats to offset their environmental impact.
Sadly though this news doesn’t seem to have reached Tropicana – the makers of a range of ‘Pure Premium’ squeezed fruit juices. Their product packaging instead proudly boasts that EVERY DAY, a train measuring ONE MILE LONG, travels OVER A THOUSAND MILES carrying their juice to quench the thirsts of New Yorkers ALONE.
Now, if I was the producer of Tropicana, I don’t think I would be proud of that kind of environmental pillage. If such devastation is really justified, then I would be boasting of all the things I was doing to put right the damage that my train was causing to the environment.
Oranges don’t grow all year round – not without artificial help they don’t. Yet, Tropicana only uses those picked at their MID-SEASON BEST, so they are presumably storing the juice somewhere after it is squeezed since nowhere on their package do they suggest that it is FRESHLY squeezed. So, we are left to wonder what other damage they are causing in the production and storage processes before they train the stuff over the US to those folks in the “Big Apple”.
Interestingly, they describe their consumers as DISCERNING. It seems to me that they can’t be that discerning if they wilfully sanction damage on this scale by buying it in such quantities. Whatever, Tropicana definitely qualifies for one of my Golden Awards for Customer Contempt for its brazen packaging!