Bigger bananas don’t mean more sales

on July 14, 2013

There was a produce company back in the 70’s and 80’s that dominated the banana market.  They kept developing different types of bananas to satisfy every type of consumer.   They in fact were world leaders in agricultural biotechnology.

Then a peculiar phenomenon started to occur; their sales were dropping while the market kept growing.  They were confounded by this and ended up bringing in consultants to help them understand why their sales were dropping.

When the consultants started to ask about what consumer preferences were, the answer was immediate: “Consumers want bigger, tastier bananas”.  Their bananas were the largest.   But, it seemed that the larger they made the banana, the more the sales dropped, yet they were adamant about what they believed consumer preferences were.

The consultants did something that seemed obvious, they started asking the consumers what their preferences were.  After thousands of dollars in studies and data analysis, they found out the following:

The most likely person to buy bananas was mothers of school age children.    Back in that time period (1970’s), mothers would make lunches for their kids to take to school.   Some of you may not remember this, but just about every kid had a metal lunch box that opened with a hinged top and closed with a clasp.   In these lunch boxes were a small thermos container for milk or juice that took up about ½ the space.  The rest of the room was for a sandwich, snack and fruit, the most popular fruit was a banana.   Well it turned out that this company’s banana was too big to fit inside the lunch box, so the mothers were buying the competitors smaller bananas.

The moral of this story is that companies should never forget who they are serving and should never assume that they really know what customers want without asking them.

We at Packnet take this axiom very seriously; we carefully listen to our customers.  We take nothing for granted, and don’t make any assumptions about the customer’s needs when we develop a custom packaging solution.    Many of our competitors rely on pre-designed products that they try to force feed to meet a customer’s need.  Packnet doesn’t start out with a product, we start out with a broad range of capabilities, materials and expertise that we draw upon when we create a custom solution based on a client’s exact packaging or shipping needs.   This is why Packnet has highly satisfied customers who recommend us without hesitation.