Honest Tea's Busted Packaging

One incidence is fine. Two is pushing it. But being lazy or cheap to the extent of allowing customers to have dozens of exposures to malformed packaging is not acceptable brand management. This is especially true when the brand is part-owned by the Coca-Cola company, the bottling/logistics pros.

Virtually every bodega here in New York that sells Honest Tea carries single-serving plastic bottles that have been vacuum sealed so tightly that the structure of the base becomes disfigured (see below) and the body takes the odd shape seen above. About 70% of the bottles look like this. Such product presentation has been consistent since mid-August 2009.

I'm more baffled than anything else. Does Honest Tea's bottling plant not have QC people? Though I'm quite certain it isn't their intention, I think it would be very interesting to run tests to find out how damaged/disfigured a product's packaging has to be before sales dip precipitously. (This wouldn't yield much actionable data for a brand, but it would surely interest me.)

Would a shelf of bottles with half-glued on labels be more or less damaging to sales than rows of bottles that have scratches and scuff marks all over them? Would people be much less likely to buy a bottle of Honest Tea if it inexplicably had a discolored cap? What product packaging error would surely turn you away from making a purchase?


Honest said...

Your comments are well-taken, and mostly fair. You are correct in noting that a defective bottle reflects poorly on our brand and our company. The untold story here (and we are to blame for not telling it) is that we have recently introduced a new bottle that is 22% lighter than our previous package. This change will reduce our environmental footprint by more than a million pounds this year. Of course, even if a package is more environmentally-friendly, it still needs to perform in the marketplace. And you are correct in noting that our first production run with the new bottle did not perform -- the bottles looked fine coming off of the production line, but once they got bumped around in transport and distribtion, they warped and got dented. We have since fixed the design and we haven't seen the same problems in the latest batches. We have also updated our label messages to include an explanation of the new design. (you can view the message at www.honesttea.com). Of course the tea inside is the same (in fact, even better because we recently upgraded our filtration system), but you are 100% accurate when you write that a quality product needs to be presented in a quality package, and in rolling out our new bottle design, we fell short. Thanks for keeping us honest, Seth Goldman, President & TeaEO, Honest Tea

Post a Comment