Redesigning the milk jug

30 Jun 2008 - 10:56am
6 years ago
12 replies
687 reads
Sarah Kampman
2008

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/30/business/30milk.html (Free
registration required)

Interesting article on a redesign of the common milk jug, its
environmental impact, and the reaction of the consumer.

I'm again reminded that change management is a fundamental part of
Interaction Design.

Comments

30 Jun 2008 - 12:29pm
Nasir Barday
2006

Sustainable design alone isn't enough of a motivator to change behavior
(outside of our hip, chic circles), but its collateral benefits may be: this
jug saves 10 to 20 cents in price and fits better in refrigerators.

It's great that Sam's did a bit of validation before doing a huge launch. I
do wonder if they just did the focus group thing (sigh) or did real tests
with each iteration of the design.

- N

30 Jun 2008 - 1:43pm
Jeff Howard
2004

The red flag for me:
"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."

I noticed some square jugs at the supermarket the other day and
dismissed them. What's next? Square watermellons? But skepticism
aside, this would probably have been a good opportunity to switch US
consumers over to metric measurement since the odd shape would have
helped mask the change. You know, get people used to the idea of
buying 37 deciliters of milk instead of an antiquated "gallon." ;-)

// jeff

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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30 Jun 2008 - 2:08pm
Peyush Agarwal
2007

Funny you should say square watermelons. Actually, the do already exist.
http://www.financialhack.com/2007/12/04/10145_lessons-of-the-square-watermelon.html

cube watermelons to be precise. And they too came about to solve very similar concerns - with stacking, shipping, storing etc.

-Peyush

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Jeff Howard
Sent: Monday, June 30, 2008 5:44 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Redesigning the milk jug

The red flag for me:
"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."

I noticed some square jugs at the supermarket the other day and
dismissed them. What's next? Square watermellons? But skepticism
aside, this would probably have been a good opportunity to switch US
consumers over to metric measurement since the odd shape would have
helped mask the change. You know, get people used to the idea of
buying 37 deciliters of milk instead of an antiquated "gallon." ;-)

// jeff

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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30 Jun 2008 - 2:30pm
Marijke Rijsberman
2004

In 1969 and 1970, if I remember correctly, milk was sold in the Netherlands
in plastic bags. The bags flopped about like dying fish when you tried to
handle them--not exactly designed for mess-free pouring.

But everybody had a hard plastic jug with a handle and no top. You'd sit
your milk-fish in the jug, snip off the top corner on the side opposite the
handle, and it poured just fine.

For all I know, they were an environmental disaster and housewives hated
them, but I loved the whole thing--the floppy bags, they way they sat up
straight in the jug, the newness of it, the way they just got themselves out
of the way when empty.

Perhaps there's nothing that can be done for a gallon-sized cube of milk,
but in principle a reusable attachment could be provided to make the thing
pour ok. If I were a consumer of gallons of milk and I were aware of the
discount and the environmental benefits, that might fly for me.

marijke

Marijke Rijsberman
http://www.interfacility.com
http://landfill.wordpress.com

30 Jun 2008 - 2:34pm
Dave Meeker
2008

They still have plastic bag milk in northern Canada, as they did when
I was a child.
We used to get Milk in these bags, cut the top off and slip the bag
into a pitcher that was designed to hold them properly.
This allowed for easy freezing of Milk for the long transport to the
North woods.

Perhaps similar to your experience in the Netherlands.

dave

30 Jun 2008 - 2:42pm
Dante Murphy
2006

My in-laws recently visited and made a run to Costco for us, bringing
back several gallons of milk in these odd rectangular jugs. The
diameter of the opening is much larger than a standard gallon container,
and the mechanics of pouring are quite tricky; I spilled the first
couple times I poured. You really do have to use the "tip and pour"
method; it's not even a question of upper-body strength. The whole
mechanics and geometry is really bad.

Also, it's worth noting that most refrigerators have a framed-in space
for the standard milk jug, so the additional space (not much) is wasted
anyway. It makes a lot of sense for the stores and dairies, but really
the only advantage to the consumer is cost, and does that adequately
offset the inconvenience? Not for me. Just you try to "tip and pour"
while holding an infant and trying to refill the cup of an impatient
toddler!

Dante Murphy | Director of User Experience| D I G I T A S H E A L T H
229 South 18th Street | Rittenhouse Square | Philadelphia, PA 19103 |
USA
Email: dmurphy at digitashealth.com
www.digitashealth.com
-----Original Message-----

Sustainable design alone isn't enough of a motivator to change behavior
(outside of our hip, chic circles), but its collateral benefits may be:
this
jug saves 10 to 20 cents in price and fits better in refrigerators.

30 Jun 2008 - 4:43pm
Fred Beecher
2006

On 6/30/08, Sarah Kampman <skampman at planview.com> wrote:
>
> http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/30/business/30milk.html (Free
> registration required)
>
> Interesting article on a redesign of the common milk jug, its
> environmental impact, and the reaction of the consumer.

Fascinating but depressing...

*Wal-Mart Stores is already moving down this path. But if the milk jug is
any indication, some of the changes will take getting used to on the part of
consumers. Many spill milk when first using the new jugs.*

Seriously. How many times do companies have to learn this lesson? If you
make easy things hard, people will not buy your crap! Kudos for the effort
toward sustainability & efficiency, but how hard would it be to employ a
good designer to work on that spout?

*Demonstrations are but one of several ways Sam's Club is advocating the
containers. Signs in the aisle laud their cost savings and "better fridge
fit." *

Okay, let's do some math. Let's say this jug rolls out at 500 SC stores.
Let's say that each store has someone doing demos for 6 hours per day. Let's
say that person makes $7.00/hour (This is Wal-Mart, after all). So in one
day, these demonstrations cost the company $21,000. Two days of
demonstrations could get you a rockstar designer to produce a rockstar
design that would cost $0 to tell people how to use. Sheesh.

I'm again reminded that change management is a fundamental part of
> Interaction Design.

Yes, but this isn't the sort of change we should be managing. We should be
accommodating human behavior rather than changing it. People don't like to
change the basic, simple everyday things that they do. Now, if we were
working with a dysfunctional corporation who "designs" on a whim, yes, we'd
have to manage that change.

There have been discussions on this list about how IxD *can* change human
behavior for the better, where sustainability is concerned. But many of
these methods rely on *influencing* our behavior rather than *forcing* it.
Dave's example of people driving more mindfully when the mileage is
displayed is a good one.

But look on the bright side... if companies keep doing crap like this (and
they will), we will never, ever be unemployed. : )

F.

30 Jun 2008 - 11:30pm
jabbett
2008

> Yes, but this isn't the sort of change we should be managing. We should be
> accommodating human behavior rather than changing it. People don't like to
> change the basic, simple everyday things that they do.

There must be a point at which we say that the experience isn't the problem,
but the very behavior itself: buy fresh milk from a local source, rather
than industrial milk from a megamart, and there won't be such a terrible
environmental impact.

-JA

On Mon, Jun 30, 2008 at 5:43 PM, Fred Beecher <fbeecher at gmail.com> wrote:

> On 6/30/08, Sarah Kampman <skampman at planview.com> wrote:
> >
> > http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/30/business/30milk.html (Free
> > registration required)
> >
> > Interesting article on a redesign of the common milk jug, its
> > environmental impact, and the reaction of the consumer.
>
>
>
> Fascinating but depressing...
>
> *Wal-Mart Stores is already moving down this path. But if the milk jug is
> any indication, some of the changes will take getting used to on the part
> of
> consumers. Many spill milk when first using the new jugs.*
>
>
> Seriously. How many times do companies have to learn this lesson? If you
> make easy things hard, people will not buy your crap! Kudos for the effort
> toward sustainability & efficiency, but how hard would it be to employ a
> good designer to work on that spout?
>
> *Demonstrations are but one of several ways Sam's Club is advocating the
> containers. Signs in the aisle laud their cost savings and "better fridge
> fit." *
>
>
> Okay, let's do some math. Let's say this jug rolls out at 500 SC stores.
> Let's say that each store has someone doing demos for 6 hours per day.
> Let's
> say that person makes $7.00/hour (This is Wal-Mart, after all). So in one
> day, these demonstrations cost the company $21,000. Two days of
> demonstrations could get you a rockstar designer to produce a rockstar
> design that would cost $0 to tell people how to use. Sheesh.
>
> I'm again reminded that change management is a fundamental part of
> > Interaction Design.
>
>
> Yes, but this isn't the sort of change we should be managing. We should be
> accommodating human behavior rather than changing it. People don't like to
> change the basic, simple everyday things that they do. Now, if we were
> working with a dysfunctional corporation who "designs" on a whim, yes, we'd
> have to manage that change.
>
> There have been discussions on this list about how IxD *can* change human
> behavior for the better, where sustainability is concerned. But many of
> these methods rely on *influencing* our behavior rather than *forcing* it.
> Dave's example of people driving more mindfully when the mileage is
> displayed is a good one.
>
> But look on the bright side... if companies keep doing crap like this (and
> they will), we will never, ever be unemployed. : )
>
> F.
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

1 Jul 2008 - 4:59am
Massimo Fiorentino
2008

A simple soultion has existed for a long time in Denmark (and other
Northern European countries). A square container made of 20% plastic
(LDPE, soft polyethene) og 80% cardboard. The square containers
typically have two ways to open up (One, Two) and their colour-coding
reveals what kind of milk there's in the container. Simple,
affordable, environmental-friendly and 'stackable'.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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1 Jul 2008 - 6:12am
Massimo Fiorentino
2008

Excuse me. I wasn't aware of the fact that you couldn't embed links
in your posts, therefore the cryptic entry before. May I suggest a
small "No HTML in posts" text next to the form? ;-)

The links should have been:
One:
http://bp0.blogger.com/_1iwL_QddcwI/R42x30XuHYI/AAAAAAAASwQ/Ak4R9aUmAJs/s1600-h/mælkekartoner
006.JPG

Two:
http://bp1.blogger.com/_1iwL_QddcwI/R42x3EXuHXI/AAAAAAAASwI/UJ_sfhVfxsE/s1600-h/mælkekartoner
004.JPG

colour-coding:
http://da.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billede:Mælkekartoner_MilkContainers.JPG

Sorry. I hope this actually works.

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1 Jul 2008 - 8:43am
Nasir Barday
2006

We have those types of cartons in the U.S. in the Quart (liter) and Pint
(1/4 liter) sizes. How do you do the Gallon, or 4 liter size? I think the
designers sought to scale up this rectangular cardboard/plastic container
and made it less awkward to use with a handle.

The spout on the new design probably should have been somewhere on the side
(or an angled corner) to make the pouring easier. Perhaps with a pull-out
valve? Now I'm making this thing expensive ...

- N

1 Jul 2008 - 9:09am
Massimo Fiorentino
2008

Ah, the gallon. Oh we actually do not have this size, only in two or
three litres at the maximum as far as I know. And that's not even
milk - I think we had a two-litres version once but people thought it
was too heavy and cumbersome to handle no matter the design. People
usually just buys more single litres instead.

I can understand the dilemma if the demand is for a gallon-sized
container. How European of me not to take this into consideration.
But (an expensive and not particularly environmental-friendly)
pull-out valve might work - it works with wine... :-)

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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