Scale Lessons from the Milkie
Sustainability is big news thanks in part to Blue Planet II and Chris Packham.
But did you know that milkmen have been leading the way on sustainability for decades? And there’s many Scale Lessons we can learn from this industry.
Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, apart from my mum’s dawn chorus of shouting from the bottom of the stairs: “get out of bed, you’ll be late for school”, the sound I vividly recall is the gentle clinking of glass bottles and the electric whirr of the milk float.
Back then, the traditional milkman was in his heyday, with 94% of milk delivered in glass bottles in 1975. But by the nineties, the industry was in decline as major supermarkets switched to cheap plastic bottles, buying in bulk to drive down prices. By 2016, this number fell to just under 3%.
You’d think that such decline would have wiped out an entire industry (and nostalgic era), but the humble milkie is making a comeback because they’ve been busy adjusting to consumer tastes, behaviours and habits:
- Their once core offering is now a major USP as bottled milk is booming as consumers look for alternatives to plastic containers. One glass bottle can be re-used up to 30 times before recycling.
- Dairies have expanded their core product range to adapt to today’s lifestyle and tastes; it’s not enough to just stock the red and silver tops anymore. Today, you can order soya milk, almond milk, rice milk and hazelnut milk.
- Over the years, milkmen have repositioned themselves as “milk and more” by introducing stock household items such as potatoes, biscuits, crisps, coffee, bread, jam, orange juice…some are even delivering compost and bird food!
- They’ve looked at their Customer Journey and adapted their processes and systems. Many dairies are now offering convenient online ordering and payment where you can change your order the night before.
- They’ve remained consistent in terms of their delivery – over the last 150 years the one thing that has remained constant is that people have always been able to rely on their local milkman delivering before breakfast come rain or shine.
- Research suggests people believe milkmen bring a sense of community to the neighbourhoods in which they operate, providing a lifeline to pensioners.
- And let’s not forget, the milkie was way ahead of his time by delivering milk in electric floats!
This week, please take stock of your Customer Journey; where your customer has some interaction with your business. You can do this by following this simple 4 step process:
1). Examine every step to see if it helps or hinders the journey.
2). Understanding the customers’ needs.
3). Designing better solutions for both the customer and the business.
4). Getting a focus on the tangible business benefits (this isn’t wishy-washy).
Right, I’m off to order some gluten free porridge oats and almond milk!