Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Ill Will From Misleading Packaging

Every year when I was a kid I got a four-piece Whitman's sampler in my Christmas stocking. I've always had a warm place in my heart for Whitman's candies. So I was excited when a friend brought us this large box of Whitman Reserve chocolates. Tonight we opened it and excitement turned to disappointment and disgust. The 2½-inch box had a single 1-inch layer of chocolates in it. Instead of a second layer, it had a false bottom. My daughters said it was "cheap".

I've come to expect the typical packaging tricks. Each of the 12 pieces of chocolate was nestled in its own protective plastic form. The plastic separated each piece by about ¾ inch. That makes up 43% package spacing on the long side and 48% package spacing on the short side. Protecting the bottom of each piece of candy is a packaging buffer of ¼ inch, in addition to the 1-inch false bottom. It's a shame that these kinds of tricks don't surprise me any more.

I looked forward to that beautiful, big box of "Reserve" chocolates. From its size, I expected the box to have two to three dozen premium chocolates. Seeing my beloved Whitman's dream squashed by a meager single layer changed my opinion of the brand.

The box was labeled to contain 7oz., but I have no doubt that the package design is intended to make me believe it contains much more. But what customers like me will take away from this kind of packaging is that the brand I used to value is a brand that is trying to mislead me. That's not a brand I can trust.

It's a shame really; the chocolates were good. I can't be the only faithful customer they have lost with this poor decision. When making cost-saving decisions for your own company, look for ways that don't make your customers feel deceived.

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