Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rebranding Whole Milk: Sometimes a Name Isn’t Enough

In the not too distant past, there were basically only a few milk choices: skim, 1%, 2%, and whole. All of it came from cows.

Of course, the numbers refer to the fat content of the milk. But whole milk only contains about 3.5% fat. That's not terrible. So why not call it 3.5% milk? Calling it "whole" milk conjures up jugs of fat. But for as long as anyone can remember, whole milk has either been just "milk" or "whole milk."

Since 1975, whole milk sales in the US have decreased by 61%. See this chart (source):

Somewhere along the way, milk producers decided that calling milk "whole" wasn't a good idea. They switched to calling it "Vitamin D" milk. That has a much healthier connotation. But it hasn't turned around sales. The product essentially hasn't changed in years, and re-branding it didn't do anything. Because sometimes changing the name just isn't enough.

Of course, that's due to many factors such as changing consumer preferences, the rise of alternative milks, increased awareness of lactose sensitivities, and perhaps, having called it whole milk for so many years. A new name can't change that. But at least they tried. Unlike RadioShack...

Yesterday, news spread that RadioShack may soon be filing for bankruptcy. There are many reasons for declining sales at RadioShack, but as I wrote last year, the brand needed a name change years ago. A name change alone likely would not have saved it, but it would have been a step in the right direction.

Or, maybe Radio Shack was doomed to go the way of whole milk even after the name change. Who knows.

There's never a lack of ideas.