FWD: Product #37956 Localized Test Market Results – Week 5
August 16, 2004
I recently received the following weekly report from our test market research team regarding Product #37956, “Fat Riker’s Mariachi Flavor Ranch Dip Bowl”, to which your band provides promotional likeness rights.
Unfortunately, current approval for the product trends somewhere in the 12% range, and though we recognize your band’s history with our parent corporation, NutraCorn Corp, and are deeply committed to the success of “Fat Riker’s Mariachi Flavor Ranch Dip Bowl”, we must inform you that the status of Product #37956 is being downgraded to Level 2. Pursuant to the terms of our contract, this changes your compensation from 1.3% of total profit to 1.18%. Additionally, the words “Fat Riker’s” size will be reduced by 19% on all packaging and 67% of the requested “sparkles” around the phrase will be removed.
Please review the forwarded comments from Comesticorp Field Agent Alice Fitzgerald, SN: 33459862. As your band members were the original creators of Product #37956, “Fat Riker’s Mariachi Flavor Ranch Dip Bowl”, we are eager to hear any suggestions you may have regarding its improvement. Remember, all suggestions become the legal property of Comesticorp upon remittance and you may be held liable for any change in product status resulting from implementation of said suggestions.
New Product Development Engineer IV
>FORWARDED MESSAGE ATTACHED
We have processed the numbers for Week 5 of Product #37956 localized area testing in the greater Ogden, Utah metro area.
Sec. 1 – Introduction
Let me begin with a bit of good news. As requested, the testing team has kept a close watch on Subject #FR5667, who was admitted to the hospital during Week 4 of testing after consuming approximately 16 servings of Fat Riker’s Mariachi Flavor Ranch Dip Bowl in one sitting. Though our lawyers felt that we could not be held legally responsible for her illness due to the distressingly large amount of the product she ingested, we are still happy to report she has been released from the hospital.
Comesticorp Legal Operative SN98556 Harvey was able to obtain copies of her medical charts, and while blood tests were completed by hospital staff, they did not include reference to the trace amounts of sciuridae polyethylene glycol (squirrel laxative) included in the product as a cost-cutting coagulation ingredient.
Though the legal team considers this a win, the sales team is distressed as Subject #FR5667 has cut her daily purchases of Fat Riker’s Mariachi Flavor Ranch Dip Bowl by 83%. As she was one of the primary customers in the West Haven area, this has cut Test Sector 6’s overall product purchases by 5.3%. Marketing has been working overtime to maintain a Euclidian standard deviation of sales across Sectors 3 – 12 and this is going to be a major hurdle for them to overcome.
Sec. 2 – Public Reception
We have continued our aggressive public relations campaign from Week 4 to improve our reception by the populace. As you are well aware, negative public image spiked in Week 3 due to an unknown odor that began to emanate from the product. We had initially planned to spin this into a positive advertising campaign following procedures outlined in contingency plan Zeta 33. Unfortunately, roughly 94% of those surveyed indicated they found the odor to be between “foul” and “gnarly” on the Beckenheimer odor scale. Zeta 33 does include provisions for a retro-80s “gnarly cool” tag line, but survey results trended more toward “foul” than “gnarly” and Project Sub-Manager Richards decided not to implement it.
Part of this relations campaign included a study on the cause of the unwanted odor. While no specific cause was able to be determined with the slim budget allotted for improvement research, it was discovered that samples of Product #37956 removed from their inert, argon-filled storage warehouses would exhibit signs of the smell within three weeks. We were able to circumvent this undesirable product feature by removing any stock remaining on store shelves for more than three weeks. This unsold product was then donated to local homeless shelters, providing both a means to control the foul odors exuded by the product and a boost to public image with the appearance of philanthropy.
Marketing Team Bravo has posted encouraging numbers due to this plan, but Delta Team is not so certain. They remained focused on the problem mentioned in last week’s report, which I have included an expanded section for below.
Sec. 2.a – Homeless Product Proliferation
We have identified a unique trend among the homeless population of Ogden in regards to the odor contingency plan detailed above.
Due to nearly 37% of total Fat Riker’s Mariachi Flavor Ranch Dip Bowls being donated to local humanitarian aide shelters, it has been determined that each visitor to the centers receive on average, 17 packages of the product per day. This has lead to a supersaturation of the product within the uncoveted homeless demographic.
This would be a minor problem at best, but sample surveys now indicate that many people strongly associate Fat Riker’s Mariachi Flavor Ranch Dip Bowl with homeless people. Heaps of the product may be easily seen filling rusty shopping carts that dot the vagrant camps within the city limits. While no immediate sales decline has been attributed directly to this association, Delta Team is petitioning strongly to counter this trend.
Currently, Research and Development Agent Smith has blocked all such plans as he has been studying the various uses the vagrants have discovered for Product #37956.
Most intriguingly, the product hardens into a supple but strong insulating shell when exposed to the atmosphere outside of its container for more than twenty minutes. This has lead to a trend known amongst the homeless as “ranching”, where an individual pours the product all over the body, then lies down to sleep for the night. The shell forms, keeping the individual warm throughout the night. In the morning, the subject merely has to claw his way out of the shell.
This has led to an abundance of human sized, ranch dip cocoons throughout the area, and a number of citizens have reported being disturbed at seeing unwashed vagrants ripping through the shells in public places. The local authorities have yet to make a connection between Product #37956 and the human cocoon remains, though we feel it is only a matter of time.
Sub-Manager Richards has sent extensive samples of the product to Comesticorp’s camping equipment division, so we may see a second launch of the Fat Riker’s Mariachi Flavor Ranch Dip Bowl if they can find some use for it.
Sec. 3 – Spokespeople Interaction
The troublesome issue of the antics of the band Fat Riker continue to plague our test launch. Somehow or another, the members continue to be aware of our plans before we can implement them, and insist on being present whenever possible. This usually ends, as I have previously reported, in well-publicized disasters that have kept most of Marketing Team Gamma busy with damage control.
How the band arrived in Ogden is a complete mystery, though a cursory glance at their tour schedule does include a stop in Brigham City, a mere stone’s throw from Ogden. It could be pure coincidence.
This week’s conflicts with the band include their third attempt to take up residence inside the second-floor supply cabinet. We initially felt that the release of Maintenance Employe #65991 Sanchez would solve the problem, as we felt he was sympathetic to Fat Riker due to their association with mariachi music. This was apparently not the case, as the band discovered that sub-par mounting screws had been installed on an outside vent grate. They were able to loosen the grate cover and the drummer was able to worm his way through and let the rest of the band into the building.
By the time it was discovered the band was once again inside headquarters, they had already set up a nest of instruments and empty ranch dip bowls and had begun practicing. This lead to a number of employees coming into contact with their music, resulting in a noticeable drop in productivity for the day.
Sec. 4 – Conclusion
Though Week 5 has seen a number of setbacks, we have also made significant gains in a variety of areas.
Launch numbers are within stress limits of a Level 2 product, and while this is lower than expected, our engineers are already hard at work reformulating the recipe to include the lower quality ingredients demanded by that designation. We expect less than a 9% change in flavor, though we may lose some of the insulating qualities listed above.
New Product Test Launch Agent III