The Sunchips Bag — Canadian Style

The Sunchips Bag — Canadian Style

Thanks to KoAnn Skrzyniarz at Sustainable Life Media for enlightening me to the fact that Frito Lay Canada made the decision to leave their SunChips compostable bags intact (all but one SKU were pulled from American shelves).

Really interesting and worth checking out (click here).  I blogged about the American bru-ha-ha a while back and still bring it up in conferences.  In short, Americans love the idea of compostable packaging, as in, “Neat! We could just throw it out our car window and it would decompose?! I don’t have to DO anything? Awesome!” Though it’s not actually that simple, for the most part, Mainstream Americans don’t want to sacrifice or trade off anything to be green.

And therein lies the problem:  the cool, compostable bag — the one that means we can be green without trying too hard — requires Americans to compromise their comfort.  And that’s a deal-breaker.  In short:  a really loud bag means we can’t hear the judges’ commentary on Dancing with the Stars, and that’s not OK.

Apparently, the Canadians see it differently.

In a YouTube video the Director of Sustainability for Frito Lay Canada basically tells his fellow citizens, “tough cookies:  you’re going to have to live with it, we’re keeping the bag on the shelves.” And then he goes on to actually use the words “trade-off” and tells his compatriots they’re going to need to make one.


Now,  I don’t have the answer as to whether this move actually helped these guys sell more product in Canada.  But they appear to be getting some props from consumers already.  Check out their Facebook page.  A few of my favorite comments are:

Allison Rankin-Fillo Keep the bag! I am off to buy some just because of the bag!

Kelly Vrooman I have actually started buying Sun Chips more frequently because of the compostable bag. yeah sure it’s a little bit noisier than the other chip bags, but putting your chips in a bowl while you snack solves that problem. :o)

Sarah McRaven I find the noise is a great conversation piece to talk about the fact that the bag is biodegradable. Keep it up. We’ll keep buying (at least in Canada). Thanks.

Craig Rowe you know what else is noisy? drilling for oil.

In the end, sales figures will tell the full story.  But for the moment it appears that Frito Lay Canada has turned a negative into a positive and found a way to engage consumers, simply by sticking to their guns.  Who knew principals could be so attractive? 😉

About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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