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    Monday, June 30, 2008

    Innovation Impact 3x - Walmart's Milk Solution

    Heads up to Core77 for bringing this NYtimes article to my attention.

    The NYtimes has a great article on the impact of rising resource costs and its subsequent influence on innovation. Walmart, wanted to change its milk system. It came up with a fantastic design solution to a mass-product/problem, is eco-friendly, and relies on smart design to impact both the consumer and the business.

    Excerpt from Core77 & NYtimes: “Introduced by Sam's Club last November, the cardboard and plastic can be recycled, it eliminates the need to maintain and wash milk crates and reduces the typical number of weekly deliveries from 4-5 trips down to 2.

    The redesign of the gallon milk jug, experts say, is an example of the changes likely to play out in the American economy over the next two decades. In an era of soaring global demand and higher costs for energy and materials, virtually every aspect of the economy needs to be re-examined, they say, and many products must be redesigned for greater efficiency.

    Sam's Club who estimate this method of shipping has reduced labor by half and water usage by 60-70 percent. Sam's Club can now store 224 gallons of milk in a cooler that used to hold 80.”

    This article got me thinking about what great innovation is. I think it can be broken into 3 more digestible areas, but i see this a fantastic example of what innovation should be. 1) the coming redesign of the American Economy and infrastructure due to the soaring costs of materials, 2) heightened importance of design, 3) impact of proper innovation

    1)The Market (American Economy)
    American Economy and other established nations face extraordinary challenges based on the current power and fuel infrastructure. This design solution has an instant impact that ripples across the broader market (the business, the transportation, the storage, the manpower). True innovation changes the market it plays in. There will be enormous opportunity to redesign the American Economy and its infrastructure due to the cost and availability of materials. Material sourcing could be HUGE!

    2)The Consumer (Design impacts Consumption)
    The consumer pretty much dictates trends, and developments these days. I would argue they brought about the whole design bit, given how they invest their values in the products they like, hoping they reflect emotions and beliefs they have. Sounds like the design is more family and fridge-friendly. Consumers are often slow to change, but this is where businesses and brands can lead. Plus the new design is a way to stand-out for those premium-mom types. Who wouldn't want to help the environment? Here design could potentially impact consumption habits, which is game-changing.

    3)The Brand (Proper Innovation builds the brand too)
    Lastly, proper innovation is one that encompasses the consumer, the business and the brand. Benefiting all groups, helps to establish the brand as a leader environmentally and fiscally. This is something unique to Walmart and there particular challenges. This reminds me a bit of Target and their pill holder redesign. Walmart really should try and play up the brand bit here, to get all they can from it. The more they can do to connect with the consumer, the more they can make consumers care about the behind-the-scene process/sourcing which seems to be a growing trend in the food world.

    Very cool design solution to a business problem; It wasn't necessarily a consumer problem, but this innovation really stretched all three and when done right, looks to be spot on.

    Ultimately this got me thinking about all the common everyday objects in need of efficient-design innovation.....



    reducing water usage 9:39 AM  

    A simple change to the design of the gallon milk jug, adopted by Wal-Mart and Costco, seems made for the times. The jugs are cheaper to ship and better for the environment, the milk is fresher when it arrives in stores, and it costs less.

    What's not to like? Plenty, as it turns out.

    The jugs have no real spout, and their unorthodox shape makes consumers feel like novices at the simple task of pouring a glass of milk.



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