The potential benefits of DESIGN TO VALUE - a case study
According to Business Insider:
- Clover has started selling milk in blue bottles as part of a new campaign to “refresh” its brand.
- As part of its ad campaign, the company released a video with a strange, high-pitched blue man.
- Social media was puzzled, amused, and horrified in equal measure.
According to Clover, they say “We opted for blue as it is the Clover corporate brand colour, and since fresh milk is the core of Clover – it makes sense to consistently drive the Clover values and identity through our fresh milk products,” says the company.
The company says it wants “to inject some excitement and generate talk-ability in and around the fresh milk category with the ultimate aim to make fresh milk relevant again.”
The question is what impact will a blue-coloured bottle have in the long term. Will they grow their brand? Will blue bottles make the brand more profitable? Will Clover be seen as a responsible brand providing added benefits for the consumer or reducing negative impacts on the environment? Has the colour of bottle introduced any new benefit to a wholesome natural product such as – will the milk stay fresh for longer? How is Clover now way Better?
Perhaps they achieved mentions on media and drew attention to the brand, but, what was the long-term thinking behind the change?
From a design thinking perspective, lets consider what was achieved by adding a colourant to the plastic bottle:
– they added cost to the bottle, that may be passed on the consumer
– they added complexity to their manufacturing operations
– they made the bottle difficult to recycle, if not, non-reusable as a milk bottle again
Dyed and pigmented plastics, for example, can be troubling for materials recovery facilities as they have a much lower market value.
According to SustainableBrands.Com, clear plastics are always preferred in the recycled materials market, and have the highest material value. This is because transparent plastic can typically be dyed with greater flexibility. The next best is white, as its only limit is that it cannot become clear, but can be made into any other color. However, the colored plastics (especially opaque varieties) are often limited to become darker shades of the original dye, or black. For this reason some recycling facilities consider certain pigmented plastics contaminants to the recycler stream, and subsequently dispose of them instead of recycle them. This issue is extenuated with the low cost of oil, as that makes it even harder for recyclers to compete with the price of virgin polymers.
In an age where society is grappling with the impacts of climate change and environmental pollution, the question, at least from a design perspective is why would any company introduce such a change. Perhaps, more baffling, is that milk is a natural, wholesome product.
To survive in today’s market of low growth, pricing constraints, increasing competition and environmental challenges, companies need to consistently deliver products that provide both the greatest total value to customers and the most attractive economics over the entire life cycle.
Design to value (DTV) is a process that helps achieve these objectives by translating brand and business strategy into design choices for products as well as the underlying processes along the supply chain. DTV allows companies to focus their innovation efforts on the features that their customers are willing to pay for and to select cost optimization approaches that will improve and protect long-term profitability.
DTV is a concept that needs to be explored more widely as the benefits from incremental improvements or new product innovation could deliver long term value to the business.