Some More Thoughts about …

… that Milk

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Further to my open letter to Fonterra re its copycat branding of Lewis Road’s Milk bottle two things were brought home to me. As a new blogger I own the responsibility for not only of my views which I have no issue with but also my underlying premise in which my views are anchored. I am a big picture then detail person. I thus first looked to the ‘context’ aka the similar packaging. I now note the finer detail. When I went to my local supermarket last night to photograph the milk bottles to add to my blog I made a new discovery

Peering at the Milk Bottle close up there was a slight difference to the shape of the bottle used by Fonterra for its Kapiti Milk and the bottle used by Lewis Road Milk. However as I had already ‘experienced’ selecting the wrong milk, the slight difference in shape was almost imperceptible. So the premise that the design is similar enough to deceive stands. The milk bottle tops are both the same colour blue. The labeling is the same colour blue such that looking down at the milk bottle tops they look the same.

Cabinet. img_0601Yes Kapiti Milk has ugly black writing but as we know we are instinctively drawn to shape first and what is written second. So it’s an easy mistake when living our busy lives to pick up the wrong bottle of milk accustomed as we are to be drawn to general shape, size and colour for our selections.

I am told that in the UK that there are about five different milk companies and they all have different packaging so as to differentiate their product. Some squat, some taller, some round, in order to distinguish their product. Is that not what a company seeks to do? Thus why would a company want to make their packaging similar? That question I pose to you dear reader.

A friend of mine Ann came back with the premise that well all milk bottles are the same? If I recall back when we had milk at the school gate then it was probably only one milk company in the market. Yet it got me thinking. When we look at tin cans for instance they are mostly the same shape the content distinguished by the branding. So there is a precedent set in the tin can long life market. Yet the labels are such that that often we purchase by general recognition and if we asked another to purchase our favourite tin of bake-beans, unless one is a core Watties person sometimes the name of the brand is not in our recall. Perhaps Fonterra are looking to establish a new precedent in the fresh milk market thus another area for consumers to educate themselves in.

To place in yet a wider context Coco Cola knew about packaging – and given its size and international stature so to does Fonterra know a thing or two. I understand that the original bottle of Coca Cola was in the shape of a woman – very distinctive. And another milk company needs a mention – Puhoi that one can see in the photo – but perhaps not a clear photo. It markets its product with a distinctive squarish shape bottle.

New World Thorndon has endeavoured to img_0598differentiate the different brands by storing Lewis Road Chocolate Milk next to the Kapiti Milk such that ones eye of sight would be more focused by the interruption of colour. Apologies I was the one that messed up the display to take my photos of the bottle together and in my haste on a cold wet windy traffic dense night in Wellington I omitted to put the bottles back in their correct order.

So whilst I questioned for a moment that perhaps I had misjudged the issue I think not. One is not peering at the bottles as I did yesterday or studying a photo. But a good exercise for me, which I trust, will stand me in good stead for the time to come – there are so many issues that disavow people in the name of profit. The key question to ask with anything is – “what’s driving this change”. Is Fonterra scared of competition? Our perceptions of others acting for the greater good need challenging for its this very perception that is the enabler for those not so ethical companies of which there are many.

Yet more heart-warming sentiments abound. A young women I met at a bookstore in lower Lambton Quay – one of those seldom found now in Wellington beautiful stores relayed to me how she has created her life to reflect her values. Her awareness – such a wonderful attribute, was reflected in a range of choices including careful purchases to counteract the pull of consumerism. Equally though she maintained an interest in the bigger picture – well informed without getting caught up in the media by choosing to take an observational stance. Refreshing.

I asked her “is it my age that sees the world through a lens that reflects back to me so much that is inequitable?” But as I had already sensed from the other young, they are even more deeply in despair than I am. I have a home, worked hard for but a home all the same. Our precious youth on the face of it have nothing to thank their predecessors for. Given the sheer torrent of the of the ‘unsavoury’ many are actively avoiding the media – it only heightens angst and rage. And that is exactly what serves the Corporates as they continue there relentless pursuit of how to extract yet more money from your purse and externalise their operating costs – that is make you their unpaid worker undertaking what use to be internal company operational tasks, on their behalf. And whilst externalisation is the consumer’s lookout, one would have thought judicious oversight of fair business practices would be a core part a democratic society that was New Zealand. Such that it seems to me that the Administration that is the National Government gives ‘tactic approval’ to Corporates given there is ‘little teeth’ in watchdog organisations – or so I’m told. And thus the moral decay of our times deepens.

Consumers have the power of their purse and if this is the only way you can make a stand do so, for invariably it’s the only language the world in these current times tend to listen to. Yet through conscious purchases (and looking closely at labels) one finds a sea of like-minded people and that brings me joy. Try it for yourself – engage at the level of a conscious consumer for in doing so we can turn the tide.


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