When it comes to marketing retail items, organizations cannot forget about the power of packaging. For Monster, they take advantage of their packaging to reach the end consumers, but I must admit that I am not thrilled by their methods. It comes down to manipulation of numbers. Sure, many competitive companies look for ways to best manipulate the industry rules and anything else to reflect the best image possible while growing market share and overall profit. Still, some take it a bit further than others, but is that right or wrong of them? Do you recall how JC Penny manipulated and rode the gray line last year? Within every industry, there are some that just take it further than others; sometimes, they win, and sometimes they lose!
My Beef With Monster
Over the past year, I find Monster’s simple method to be quite crafty yet misleading. I’m confident that these packaging methodologies are not new for them, but it is a newly found observation of mine while working with some local clients of mine. Of course, Monster is not alone nor are the types of practices merely unique to them. So, what are they doing? Well, I’m glad you asked!
Normally, retailers buy 24-pack cases of the regular Monster flavors (this only pertains to the normal sized cans, not the Imports, Extra Strength, Java, or mega-sized can products). Their distributors have a set price for these. Every few months, Monster forces these small retailers to buy the same 24-can case but in a 6, 4-pack variation. This comes as an inconvenience for these retailers since they have to then break open the 4-pack boxes to put the cans on the shelves. Along the way, the newer flavors are rarely ever available in the 4-pack variation. Luckily, Monster still will sell the 24-pack of individual cans to the retailer, but the price is not the same; normally, it is a few dollars more.
To me, this is pure fudging of the numbers. If you force the retailers to buy the 4-packs [if they want the lower price] when they do not sell them to the end consumers as 4-packs, it appears that it is merely done in an effort to boost 4-pack sales numbers. Sure, your Wal-Mart locations will sell 4-packs of Monster to the consumers, but many C-Stores will not. So, there is a minor issue here; of course, Monster is basically allowed to price however they so please, but it seems a bit unfair, at best. If I was in Monster’s shoes and still wanted to fudge the numbers for product ratings or merely wanted to push the 4-packs out of the warehouses due to inventory issues, why punish the retailer by forcing them to buy their latest flavors (that do not yet come in 4-packs) at a higher price? Either make all flavors available in 4-packs or do not charge a higher price for those products not available in the 4-pack boxes during these sales. If that still does not seem feasible, they need to do a better job of communicating the upcoming deals. If you know that you are moving from the 24-packs to the 4-packs next month, tell the retailers now so they can stock up on the flavors that will not be available in the 4-pack deal. Again, these 6, 4-pack deals are merely the same price as the normal 24-pack deals, so it is not like Monster would be losing sales by being more transparent with their retailers.
It Just STINKS!
Sure, it is business as usual. Like I mentioned above this type of situation appears in every industry – sometimes just in different formats. Is it right or wrong? I guess the answer is in the eye of the beholder. To me, I would not classify this as unethical, but I do not think this is great business practice. To me, it just stinks! What are your thoughts? And what other similar examples can you think of?