Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Nabisco Round Saltine Crackers - 1st Year Update

This is a re-posting of a piece I wrote about a year ago.  I noticed while in the store yesterday that the NABISCO cracker display of Saltines consisted of about half Square and half Round placed side-by-side.  Couldn't suppress a grin--last year this time, the Squares were gone altogether !  This posting is one of the most popular pages in the blog with visitors coming in mostly from ad agencies!  Perhaps it has begun to be another "New Coke" phenomena.  Placing the two "choices" side-by-side as I noticed yesterday strikes me as pretty dumb, too.  Let's see.... $2.99 for 10oz Rounds, $2.99 for 15.1 oz Squares?  Hmm...think I'll stay with the $1.50 house brand Squares I've been using since last year.  No difference in them that I can tell.  Good luck, ladies.

It’s an oxymoron, isn’t it?  Noticed about a week ago that my life-long saltine cracker maker, NABISCO, had changed its package…nothing new there—see my earlier rants in the blog about the toilet paper makers jerking around with their packaging.  This ongoing jiggering with packaging, flavors, and weights irritates me on other levels, but this one is a direct attack on one of our fundamental, life-long preferences.

Of course, one of the principal reasons for the change is to confuse consumers so they will pay more for less product…a quasi-clever way to raise prices—significantly.  That’s going on across the board with all manufacturers and is made ever simpler since the advent of EXCEL spreadsheet programs.  The problem with those programs is that they are only good at if-then-else calculations, and utterly clueless with regard to whether a considered change will enrage their customers, or not.  I suppose it's the marketing department’s job to make that calculus, and you know what I generally think about unbridled marketing.  But then, I’m just a Dilbert-type technical guy.  I suspect there are a few of my kind muttering quietly to themselves somewhere back in the dark, hot, and greasy parts of some NABISCO plants.

In a world where airlines that once ran their operations without much drama, we now observe those operations run by today’s current crop of managers having serious problems figuring out how to get passengers off a stranded airplane at the gate…for 7-hours!  And now we have the Giant Kraft Foods, owner of NABISCO since about 2000, under the leadership of the ladies shown above, apparently seeing no problem trashing an American standard we have known all our lives.

Time will tell how this works out for them, but for now the house brand saltines at half the price are just fine by me.  One thing those spreadsheet programs cannot calculate is the effect of my dropping OREOs, Maxwell House, and pretty much anything “NABISCO” from my shopping rotation.  With the problems today’s “enlightened” management teams" seem to be having running their “core” businesses, I doubt they will ever figure out what went wrong and why.  But then again, few of them stick around long enough to care much about that anyway.

I may address flavored salt next.

Dec. 2012 Update:  Apparently our dissatisfaction with this ham-fisted maneuver has had some effect.  I've got a much larger selection of my old standards back on the shelf.  But take notice my NABISCO friends, those "house" brand saltines are just as good as yours and at half the price.  Now you've got to get to work and re-sell your product to me.  And I've generally dropped most of your products from my shopping list.  This particular move on your part was disgusting in my mind....or, maybe just dumb !

BTW, this article is one of the most heavily visited pages in this blog.


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