What is the Real Ultimate Question?

This Heinz Tomato Ketchup photo is making the rounds on most social channels and is being touted as the perfect illustration of Customer Experience.  Smart CX professionals know better.


Ketchup CX

Although the bottle design changes are easy to see, understand, and use, this is not an illustration of fabulous customer experience.  Why?

Customer experience, by its very nature, is about the whole experience not any one individual component of an experience.

In this case, Heinz has offered a packaging change that could help customers use product easier, which many of their customers may have told Heinz they want based on surveys and research.  Heinz can also increase revenue as customers can now use their product more often, thereby needing to purchase more often.  So far, sounds like a win.

Additionally, the new PET plastic used to create the bottle (in partnership with Coca Cola) is in large-part plant-based and recyclable, it is lighter so costs less to ship, there is less in-shipment breakage, and these plastic bottles probably (not confirmed) cost less to produce.  Now, sounds like several wins, right?

But, is yet another plastic bottle in the market desirable given that many of these end up in landfills or floating in our oceans, do chemicals leach from these bottles into product and anyone who ingests product, and why would anyone want to go from an easily recyclable glass bottle to a plastic bottle that is less easy to recycle?  The number of wins is dropping.

This ketchup’s ingredients, taken from their corporate website, include:



Two ingredients listed here, corn syrup-based, are becoming more and more publicly controversial, plus there are undefined spices and undefined flavoring as well.  Likewise, distilled vinegar leaches from any container it is stored in, glass being the safest container with the least amount of leaching. More wins lost.

With this photo being so widely shared, I question how customer experience professionals really define customer experience.  For example:

  • What helps drive increased revenue and brand loyalty?  Is it just easy to use packaging or something a combination of factors?
  • Was this packaging in and of itself the best use of company resources or could they have created an even better experience (and increased revenue) by improving the product instead of or in conjunction with their packaging?
  • Will the savings gained by moving to plastic containers be passed along to customers or will there be some sort of off-setting investment into recycling that helps to negate environmental issues caused by these new plastic bottles?
  • Are these new plastic containers safe given the product that is stored in them and are there future liabilities waiting to happen; meaning does a short term packaging design win over the possibility that the product along with the new packaging could be seen as not contributing to good customer health?
  • How many components of a customer experience does a company need to deliver simultaneously to ensure for a whole positive experience; creating value for both entities?
  • Do customers want companies to provide them with healthy products, both from an ingredient perspective as well as from a packaging perspective?

I wonder how many of us succumb to the internal corporate pressure of process improvement and expense reductions positioned as improving customer experiences as opposed to creating fabulous inclusive healthy customer experiences which ultimately lead to revenue and profit gains.

Maybe The Ultimate Question is really “Would/will you actively encourage your kids, mother, sister, or grandmother to eat/use this product?” instead of “Would you recommend?”.



The disclaimer.  This post is simply meant to offer thinking to CX professionals using a live illustration of some group think floating around on the web at the moment.  This post is NOT meant as +/- commentary about Heinz or its products.  Likewise, I have no personal or financial interest in Heinz.