Thursday, May 15, 2008

Don't be a tease - you're not that cute

I recently became a fan of Diet Cherry Chocolate Dr. Pepper. I love the product. It was very hard to find though so I emailed the company asking them how I could get the product.

Here is what they sent back:
Dear Mr. Schorr:

Thank you for contacting us about Dr Pepper Diet Cherry Chocolate. Your comments and inquiries are appreciated because they provide valuable feedback about our brands.

We would like to advise you that the Dr Pepper Diet Cherry Chocolate was only a limited edition flavor and it is no longer being produced. We will be forwarding all of your comments over to the appropriate department for review.

Our Company has been making great brands that make a splash for more than 100 years. We are proud of our family of products and are committed to providing a wide range of choices for all individuals.

Thank you for taking the time to contact us. We hope that you will continue to purchase and enjoy our products.

Sincerely,

Consumer Relations

Now first of all, you will notice this is quite impersonal. I'm not feeling very loved here. I'm not even feeling like they get I'm human! But maybe more importantly, this is totally boneheaded! They put something attractive in front of me. They got me interested. And then they pulled it away. It's not coy, it's stupid because now I'm annoyed by them and I'm moving them off my radar screen.

I can imagine the marketing discussions they had. Something about trying to pique interest, to be relevant, to be innovative, to create a sense of scarcity... But in the end, all they have done is piss me off.

Now they might have mitigated the negative impact if they were a little more honest with me and they tried to cushion the blow. If the flavor just didn't do well they could have been up front about the fact that even though I liked it, not enough other people did. Or they could say that they're constantly experimenting with new flavors... And they could have suggested I try some other new flavor they have and sent me a few coupons. (Note: I hate coupons in general. This will be the topic of my next post but in this circumstance, it is appropriate.) But they didn't do this. They were impersonal and didn't try to make up for a ham-handed way of trying to be interesting and mysterious.

So here's what I sent back to them:
I would like to advise you that my consumption of Dr. Pepper was only a limited time event meant to coincide with your production of Diet Cherry Chocolate. I will now return to the diet carbonated beverage I was previously consuming - one that I can rely on to be there when I need it. Please let me know when you are ready for me to rejoin your franchise. By the way, I am an extremely heavy consumer of diet soda. Let me clarify: I am not an extremely heavy person who consumes diet soda. I am rather of moderate weight but I drink a lot of diet soda. It's quite silly actually, but what the hell. I like it.

And that, my friends, is how you lose a customer.

4 comments:

Steve Kinsey said...

Diet, Dr, Cherry, Dark Chocolate, with Splenda, Caffeine Free Dr Pepper?

Surely you understand (But maybe don't like the effects of) the complexities of producing/marketing/distributing/managing 217 flavors of Coke. Even Corn Huskers must die at some point, or just sold to a venture capitalist...

Jer979 said...

So they were "remarkable" and then decided that it wasn't worth it anymore, eh?

Adam said...

Steve:

I definitely get it. But the time to make that decision is not after you launch the product and get me excited.

Hey, if the product fails, pull it. I get it. But don't put on the dancing shoes and show them to me if you don't want to dance.

Adam said...

Jer:

Exactly. And their email doesn't even allow me to understand why. It's really the most insulting possible explanation. If they had told me that they are sorry to have to discontinue the item but I was the only person who liked it, I would be OK with that. And if on top of that, they sent me some sign of appreciation (a coupon, a keychain, whatever) just to show that they value me, I would be thrilled.

Instead, they made this about them. They decided it would be a limited run product. Why? I didn't decide that. They weren't doing it for me.

This is the worst old-style paternalistic marketing.