The Sun(Chips Bag) Goes Down

This week Frito-Lay announced plans to discontinue the biodegradable Sun Chips bags. Unveiled 18-months ago, the company made a marketing splash as it announced the bag is environmentally friendly. Now, the company claims they’ve received complaints that bag is too noisy and will stop producing biodegradable SunChips bags.

I’m sure customer complaints are one reason. But the likely reason for discontinuing the bags is the nearly 11% sales decline in SunChips recently reported.

Marketing Magazine awarded Frito-Lay the 2010 Excellence in Brand Creativity for their Green Effect Campaign. They said Frito-Lay “acted so differently it caused everyone to take notice by reimagining its entire relationship with consumers.”

When the Green Effect Campaign started, it received rave reviews for truly reflecting what the brand stands for. They showed that they can make awesome chips, and save the world at the same time.

Fast-forward to this week.

Loud Bag + Customer Complaints + Declining Revenue = Abandon Brand Positioning

Frito-Lay missed an opportunity with their SunChips brand to expand on their marketing efforts and strengthen their brand positioning. This innovative revolution would have made them the most sustainable potato chip producer and differentiate themselves away from their competitors.

Take your customer complaints, create focus groups, and expand on what how you started marketing in your Green Effect Campaign. With my limited knowledge of the feedback they’ve received, here are a few marketing campaigns that could have expanded the reality of a loud bag:

Family Share Bags

Create different packaging options for large family bags. A 500+ gram bag intended to be shared in a bowl. This option would eliminate the loud bag complaint and focus on the share the chips in a bowl. Smaller bags might revert to a quiet bag, but family-sized bags would be the loud-as-ever biodegradable bag.

Buckley’s Approach

Be honest. Hey, this marketing approach has worked for Buckley’s cough syrup for years … it tastes awful, but it works. I’m sure Frito-Lay realized the SunChips bags were loud when they first released their product. Maybe their pitch should be: Be loud, you’re saving the planet with every chip.

I hope Frito-Lay rethinks their decision to stop producing the environmental friendly bag. I’m sure an expanded marketing/communication campaign could recoup that 11% in revenue decline, your public image would sky-rocket, and they would continue to differentiate the SunChips brand from competitors.

Take a stand – a loud stand – and stick with your bag.

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