Searching for the Secret Formula
Thinking AheadĖLetter from Chaille
By Chaille Brindley
Date Posted: 4/1/2004
Finding the next big new thing or ways to make the old thing better currently consumes my pallet brain. Back about a month ago,
The real lesson is that if you donít find a way to make your product unique, you will be fighting your competition mainly on price. Finding the niche or the new twist appears to be the only way to make big money any more.
Hey Chaille, maybe marry up Georgia Pacific (GP) and CHEP test centers into some discussion about need to integrate marketing and testingÖ
In the CHEP innovation center they have an espresso bar, and GP sounds like this is the same sort of deal where you invite customers and customers of customers to help get to a better pallet/package solution.
Laboratory testing becomes part of marketing ó finally. It is an idea that is long overdue, and helps sell value instead of just priceÖSo long as the guy down the street doesnít undercut on the same box before the lattes get cold.
There could be something here. The only problem is that most pallet companies donít have the size to pull this off. The other thing is that you are talking about changing the usersí mindset of pallet companies. That will be tough, and it will take more than free gourmet coffee drinks.
The key question is what would it take to change public perception of the industry?
It is easier for CHEP being a differentiated offering, and while GP is just another cardboard box, it has deep enough pockets to throw $1.5 million at a lab/java facility that a pallet guy could never dream about doing.
Many pallet suppliers, especially those with PDS capability, would like to make design improvements. Usually, they never get past the price on the existing spec. If they do bring in a change, they still have trouble holding onto the business in the face of purchasing agents passing it around to the competition.
It takes courage. Many enlightened guys would like to dare to be different, except they are afraid they will crash and burn in a crossfire of price warfare before they make it through to the other side.
I think of PDS sort of like the frequent flyer programs for the airlines. Giving bonus miles for travel or other purchases used to be a perk. Now it is almost expected. The same can pretty much be said for PDS. This just shows how peopleís expectations are usually based on what they got the last time they bought from you. The true cost of the item or the fact that they got a one-time special deal the last time doesnít really matter. Where does the looking for a better deal stop?
Eventually, you reach a point where the guy across the counter smiles at you and says, "Iím sorry we just canít do anything more for you. Thatís our best offer." Or they might also say, "Iím sorry we can no longer service your account. We are out of business."
Can a mature industry really learn new tricks? If PDS causes customers to yawn and ask, "Do you have anything new?", what is the industry supposed to do? Is there a point where you canít innovate any more? These questions need to be addressed. Sometimes it is the questions that you donít ask that end up costing you everything in the end.
Hey, well said! Does the pallet industry have an inferiority complex? To be confident, you add something extra to the equation, charge for it and stick to your guns. The mindset of an industry is changed one conversation at a time, one transaction at a time.Page 1 Page 2
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