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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5496/why-do-fruit-loops-come-in-a-plastic-wrapper-whereas-honey-smacks-come-in-a-foil-wrapper/

Why do Fruit Loops come in a plastic wrapper, whereas Honey Smacks come in a foil wrapper?

August 21, 2006 by

Yes, it is burning question, and someone had to be bold enough to ask it. So I did. I wasn’t complaining, just asking. To my total amazement, Kellogs answered:

Jeffrey,

Thank you for contacting us to let us know you would prefer that a different material be used to package Kellogg’s® Honey Smacks® cereal.

We base our choices for both inner and outer packaging materials on our need to deliver fresh product to stores in the best possible condition. We look at our packaging to control the absorption of moisture, control breakage and prevent any other type of damage that might occur during the shipping and handling of our foods.

We appreciate the time you took to share your views. Your comments will be shared with our packaging area to help us continue to achieve our goal of providing you with great-tasting and high quality products.

Sincerely,

Laura Cervantes
Consumer Affairs Department
4LEC/OPS
011702893A
Kellogg North America
PO Box CAMB
Battle Creek, MI 49016-1986

Well, I really wasn’t asking for a different system, but it’s ok. I’m just impressed that they answered at all! It was just one email from little ol’ me to a massive multinational corporation, and on the most trivial topic imaginable (or some people might say). Who says the consumer isn’t king under capitalism?

{ 15 comments }

Curt Howland August 21, 2006 at 10:50 pm

I notice they sent you a canned reponce, since your question was “why are they different”, not “I prefer x, like with this product, not y like with this other product”.

What fascinates me is that they had a canned response to that issue at all.

I wrote to Haagen Daaz to tell them I really like their Mayan Chocolate, as well as their EggNog, which I tried even though I expected it was going to be cloying and abusive like a McDonald’s(tm) Egg Nog Shake(tm most likely) is. Much to my surprise, it was wonderful.

Anyway I let them know through their web page, and also asked that their flavor artists and scientists consider sweetening an icecream entirely with honey, for those of us who prefer our sweeness to come from nature rather than some chemical multinational.

They politely responded that while all ingredient desires are important to them, it is there flavor department which has the final say, and sent me two $.50-off cupons.

I did tech support for Apple on a public 800 number for a few months. I honestly believe that companies are very happy to get a well-worded, comprehensible letter from a customer. It just doesn’t happen very often.

I also sent a note to Viktronox(sp?), the makers of Swiss Army knives, to let them know that the one carving knife that I inhereted from my mother, that I grew up using and still use, which I abused in my teen-age years, is still the sharpest knife in the drawer 30 years later. I apologized, because no matter how wonderful their knives are, I really don’t expect to ever need another one. They politely responded that, so long as I am satisfied with the product, they are happy to have me as a customer no matter how few knives my family buys over how many generations. They strive to make the best they can.

It made me realize that even “corporations” can have a long term view. Maybe I’ll buy some of their stock instead.

BTW, anyone who hasn’t tried the Mayan Chocolate, it’s glorious. Go get a pint and ruin your diet.

Person August 21, 2006 at 11:38 pm

I like Honey Smacks. Well, Honey Smacks and Cap’n Crunch.

David August 22, 2006 at 2:29 am

I am not at all surprised that Kellogs answered Jeff. I would have been surprised if they didn’t.

My wife often writes to companies about products for a variety of reasons, complaints about quality, for example, or suggestions for product improvement ( dont ask my why she does….), and they always, always reply – some use stock responses with a gift/replacement voucher enclosed, others reply with real mental effort clearly having been applied to a personal response to the issues raised. Some even phone in response! But responding somehow to any sort of correspondence is fundamental to any retail business.

Of course, the telling point in this case is that they clearly didn’t read Jeffrey’s letter in any depth – he asked a question out of curiosity, and the reply was a stock letter carefully crafted to have broad applicability to any packaging-related complaint. Seems that’s the closest pile Jeffrey’s letter qualified for when it was being sorted.

Will August 22, 2006 at 10:34 am

I once sent a message to Nestle about how I preferred the taste of a Baby Ruth to a Snickers, but that I would regularly purchase Snickers instead of Baby Ruths because Baby Ruths crumble chocolate all over the place. They sent me a nice letter (yup, a real letter by snail mail) with a bunch of coupons. Campbells did the same when I wrote to tell them about how I like their Southwestern Style Chicken Vegetable soup (which they seem to have stopped making – I guess I’d better write them again). I think that these types of businesses really do appreciate any sort of genuine data on consumer preferences that they can get their hands on – it’s a lot cheaper (and you probably get more reliable data) than relying focus groups or taste tests.

banker August 22, 2006 at 11:30 am

I second the previous comment. Companies would love to have direct feed back from their target consumer base. It costs a lot of money to hire consultants to figure out what people actually want. So, on the one hand, it is not really that surprising that companies are interested in what their customers have to say.

John August 22, 2006 at 12:00 pm

I sent the following e-mail to Diet Coke, they never responded. I guess they didn’t have a template for my problem:

Dear Sirs,
I wish I were writing you today to compliment you on your fine Product, which I do enjoy quite often, but such is not the case.
Six months ago I was I was on a two hour layover in the Phoenix international airport. I was minding my own business reading the Michael Crichton bestseller “Jurassic park”, when an attractive young woman sat down in the seat next to me.
After about 30 minutes of reading I decided I should use the restroom before my flight to Los Angeles began to board. Not wanting to take the book with me I asked the young lady if she would kindly watch it for me. She agreed. When I returned 5 minutes later she was gone and SO WAS MY COPY OF JURASSIC PARK!!!!
The reason I am writing you is that yesterday I saw the same young woman featured in a Diet Coke commercial. She is the attractive young blonde skating to a “Shifty Shell Shock” song (my 14 year-old nephew helped me identify the artist).
I would greatly appreciate it if you would forward me the actresses name and how I can get in touch with her. I have no intention of pressing charges or involving your company in this matter. I simply WANT MY COPY OF JURASSIC PARK RETURNED!!!
This would mean a great deal to me as I was 3/4 the way through the story and would like to finish it ASAP. Yes I have seen the movie but I have been told by several acquaintances that some details were changed in the film and that there really is no comparison.
I await your response.
Yours Truly,
John Cocktoastone

Josh August 22, 2006 at 12:10 pm

I’ve gotten hammered and called the 1-800 number on the side of the budweiser bottle more than once to tell them how nice and cold my beer was. They’re were always happy to hear from me.

King Consumer August 22, 2006 at 12:30 pm

I’ve written Sun-Rype about the lack of their apple juice outside western Canada (in my opinion it’s the best apple juice money can buy), and I’ve bugged Chick-fil-A about not having any restaurants anywhere I’ve lived (there was one but it was closed a very long time go… I still have fond memories of it). The Sun-Rype reply was great, I think it got bumped up a few levels, and they offered me coupons for free juice. The Chick-fil-A reply seemed slightly canned… I think they thought I was being nationalistic when all I wanted was to eat their yummy food (I shall continue to dream of waffle fries).

I have other stories like this, and the results are generally satisfactory. But where the ‘consumer is king’ thing seems to break down is at the lowest levels, where the people profit the most indirectly from their actions – customer service, half the time they seem to be rude as hell (I take pleasure in knowing that these people are slowly being made obsolete by technology).

I have another theory – the more illegitimate a person’s job is (illegitimate being defined as being via state intervention), the ruder they are in general. At the most extreme we have government bureaucrates, politicians, and enforcers (you are most definitely not their ‘custmer’), then we have the beneficiaries of ‘rent seeking’, then the union shops, and finally people making minimum wage (who are generally rude not because they are making so little money, but because competition for their job has been artificially limited, i.e. they are making too much money since the person willing to do the best job for the least money, who may have needed the job the most (and been willing to work the hardest and been the nicest, and liked it!), probably didn’t get the job because the wage floor took away their ‘edge’ since it ‘leveled the playing feild’ for potentially worse employees by forcing those who wanted the job enough to work for less pay, to compete on the same level as those who only wanted the job enough to work for the artificially higher wage).

There’s another thing I noticed about lower end jobs (from having a few myself) – I had a hell of a time getting a job at first (I’m talking like places like Subway not hiring me, and somehow not being good enough to be a dishwasher), then I realized the ‘trick’… the trick is that you have to _seriously charm_ the interviewer (who is generally just a few notches above position they’re interviewing you for), they have to _love_ you before they ‘give’ you the job (‘give’ is in quotes here because that’s what it is to them… competance has no direct benefit to them, especially in an unskilled job, and price/wage, which should be the deciding factor has been removed by minimum wage laws resulting in too many people chasing too few jobs and allowing hirers to make their decisions based on ). I’ve confirmed this (to my own satisfaction) through other observations/people, and I’m quite convinced it’s real (and not just me). I believe there is something seriously perverse going on here, and I’m actually at the point where I think the unemployment caused by minimum wage laws isn’t an unintended and unforseen consequence (who could be so dense as to not see that one is a direct result of the other), but a willful and intended effect – society is using it as a oppurtunity to engineer itself, as a way of selecting for various traits (a willingness to ‘play ball’ – a certain social malleability), and pushing those at the margin who aren’t to it’s liking out of existence (though perhaps individually none could consciously say that that was what they indented or even recognize the result).

Gintas August 22, 2006 at 2:16 pm

I live in the NW, there was once a Chick-fil-A in Portland. My wife emailed C-f-A to find out where the store was. They told her that it was closed, and here, have a couple of Chick-fil-A coupons! She mailed them to family in the south.

aksuckow August 22, 2006 at 7:44 pm

I am a manufacturing asset engineer for a multinational consumer products manufacturer. Consumer complaints and comments occasionally make their way even to my level. You might be surprised how seriously such contact is taken.

Lloyd September 18, 2006 at 11:34 am
KMP October 13, 2008 at 12:29 pm

Although i am a little late, I recently had a cereal bags issue, similar to one of the blogger’s issue. I also got the same response from Kellogg’s and other responses from the other cereal companies.

I thought it was interesting that they have a template for these types of questions.

KMP

Check the cereal bags blog here:

http://www.keepmepostedblog.com/2008/10/cereal-bags-dilemma.html

KMP October 13, 2008 at 12:30 pm

Although i am a little late, I recently had a cereal bags issue, similar to one of the blogger’s issue. I also got the same response from Kellogg’s and other responses from the other cereal companies.

I thought it was interesting that they have a template for these types of questions.

KMP

Check the cereal bags blog here:

http://www.keepmepostedblog.com/2008/10/cereal-bags-dilemma.html

Dave February 10, 2009 at 8:18 am

I’m sure both wrappers do a good job at keeping the unopened cereal fresh for a long time. But the foil wrapper reseals much better and should provide a longer opened-box life. Honey Smacks start clumping together when exposed to humidity, so that’s why the foil is used for that cereal. I’ve seen Froot Loops in foil wrappers, but I’ve never seen Honey Smacks in plastic wrappers.

web hizmetleri June 3, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Although i am a little late, I recently had a cereal bags issue, similar to one of the blogger’s issue. I also got the same response from Kellogg’s and other responses from the other cereal companies.

I thought it was interesting that they have a template for these types of questions.

KMP

Check the cereal bags blog here:

Read more: Why do Fruit Loops come in a plastic wrapper, whereas Honey Smacks come in a foil wrapper? — Mises Economics Blog http://blog.mises.org/5496/why-do-fruit-loops-come-in-a-plastic-wrapper-whereas-honey-smacks-come-in-a-foil-wrapper/#ixzz0ppJkgAoB

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