This is How it Happens

I took this picture a few minutes ago, but I have been admiring the milk jug on the left for a few days now. I don’t drink much milk and maybe that jug has been around a long time- but I had never seen it before this week. What I have always seen over the past four decades is the design on the right.

There is nothing wrong with the design on the right. It is functional and it works just fine most of the time. However, the design on the left is slightly better.

I would not say it is a lot better. It is only slightly better. In fact, it may not necessarily be better for all milk customers. Some of you may have a good reason to prefer the old style design.

This is a little thing (or at least it appears to be a little thing) but there are clear benefits. The footprint of the jug is slightly smaller which means it takes up slightly less shelf space, and it makes up for the smaller footprint by being slightly taller. That makes sense because when you look in your refrigerator, you will probably see that the wasted space is the space between the tops of the items on the shelves and the shelves above them.

This is a great example of an axiom of business. Success in business rarely comes from hitting home runs. Success comes from small, incremental improvements that are made over time. When combined, those changes make a big difference.

What impact on revenue does this jug have? I can’t imagine that it is very high. The vast majority of customers are not going to choose their milk based on the shape of the milk jug. However, there are some that will. Those people may have small refrigerators, or perhaps that jug size just exactly fits in the shelf on the door. Maybe the number of people that care is no more than one out of fifty (in other words 2%).

Let me tell you something important. If you can get out of bed every day and come up with a way to increase your business by 2%, you are going to be wildly successful. Frankly, if you can just increase your business 2% a month, you are going to be very successful.

Don’t think that this improved design is insignificant. It is not. This is the kind of thinking that you need to embrace as a business owner. Go out and find something to improve a tiny bit. Even if it is something that has been the standard for decades.

2 thoughts on “This is How it Happens

  1. John Bensley says:

    This article is both interesting and encouraging. I’m personally in the middle of improving slightly on a decades-old product design.

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