07 November 2015

4 marketing lessons from a sour milk

Milk Money: Cash, Cows, and the Death of the American Dairy Farm

I buy fresh 1 liter of fresh milk about once or twice a week in a supermarket--those milk sold in paper boxes labeled UHT processed or Ultra High Temperature, hot enough to kill microbes to give milk a longer shelf life.

There are two brands that occupy the position "fresh milk" in my mind. I bought one brand.

At home, I would open the carton and drink 1 cup of milk after a meal. I place the remaining milk in the box and placed it in a refrigerator. After three days, the milk already tastes bad.

Maybe, it's just a freak accident.

I bought the same milk in the same store. The same thing happened. The milk tastes bad.

I chose another brand with the same price. The taste is ok. So what's wrong?

As days and weeks passed by, I saw the price of the milk plummet by 10%, then by 20%. Then later, the milk brand was gone from the shelf. Whoa! What's happening here?

Then after a week, boxes of the same brand are back at the regular price, the same as the competition. I bought the same milk brand. Maybe this time, this should be good.

It still tastes bad.

I checked the expiration date. It expires in a month or two.

And since that time, I checked the expiration date of the milk I buy and choose only that which will expire in 6 months at least.

Yesterday, I bought milk again. I checked that milk brand again. The milk will expire in a week!

Terrible. The brand manager should be fired.


Here are some branding are marketing lessons that we can learn from this sour milk story:

1. Brand managers must take care of their brand

They should monitor the expiration dates of their products to make sure that the customer really gets the fresh milk that they wish to get. If they doubt the quality of the milk after a particular duration, even way before the expiration date, then they must change the expiration date. In this way, the customers would trust the quality of the brand.

2. Brand managers must recall defective products. 

If they think that products are defective, then they must remove them from the selves or throw them to the sea or donate them to charity if it is acceptable to do so. No fancy advertising can salvage a bad product.

2. Brand managers should buy the products that they sell. 

No, they should not buy them at their own factories and avail of factory prices. Rather, they should buy them where customers really buy them, e.g. supermarkets and grocery stores. Is the product easy to find? What products are sold beside it? Business is war and the store's shelf space is a battlefield.

3.  Brand managers should use the products that they sell.

If it's food, they must eat it. If it's a drink, they must drink it. If you can't drink milk that will expire in a month, then they should not sell it. Here's the golden rule: sell to others the products that you actually use yourself.