How To :: Create Customer Confusion

Does this go in the fridge or the shower?

Does this go in the fridge or the shower?

I saw a coupon for this product this weekend and immediately thought, “Since when did Dial start making yogurt?”

It’s not uncommon for companies to branch out into new markets. Really, what company today doesn’t sell bottled water? So it’s not unreasonable to think that The Dial Corporation, known best for soap products, would create a dairy product. Yogurt is a popular food item after all, and businesses need all the revenue they can get. And vanilla honey yogurt sounds delicious!

But once your initial confusion subsides, you’ll see that this is, in fact, soap! No, it’s not yogurt at all. It is soap with yogurt in it! Genius, right? Perhaps. But the package design, while pretty, is confusing! How many consumers will think (as I did — a packaging and graphic design veteran) that Dial has gone into the yogurt business and buy this thinking it’s edible? Of the people who buy this thinking it’s yogurt, many of them (most I hope) will figure out that it’s soap before ingesting any. (The bottle is really a standard body wash bottle.) But what about the hand full of consumers who, for whatever reason, don’t figure out their mistake before trying some? What about the few who will actually consume this product? Can eating soap make you sick? I don’t know but I’m sure I don’t want to find out.

It seems to me that The Dial Corporation might want to rethink the design of this package. Yes, the Dial logo is prominently displayed. They are probably banking on the fact that their brand is well-known enough to make this an obvioius soap product. And yes, it does say (in very tiny type) Nourishing Body Wash under the “flavor” Vanilla Honey. But who has time to read the entire package? Today’s consumer is busy, rushed, and hungry. Most people probably only take the time to read the first few prominently displayed items. In this case, 1. This is yogurt!, 2. Mmmm, it’s vanilla honey flavored, and 3. Oh, it’s made by Dial, don’t they also make soap?

The verdict? Very pretty package has messaging hierarchy issues that could (will) create customer confusion and may invite a lawsuit. Hey Dial, give me a call when you’re ready for a redesign!

~ jm


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