March 2, 2018

Ice in cups

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If you’ve been reading the blog lately or hanging out with me you know I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about packaging recently. Packaging is easily the most hairy operational issue we face with the Clover App rollout. And while it pales in comparison to the positive impact we have by excluding meat from our menu, it’s one of the important environmental commitments that distinguishes Clover from other dining choices. We’ve been committed since day 1 to absolutely minimal packaging.

And as we grow and work to attract new customers to the Clover fold we find that there are a lot of people who like the convenience that packaging offers. To the point that I now believe that a heavier packaging approach will allow Clover to reach more people. And while net net that’s probably great (because the good we do with our food outweighs the packaging) I’m not satisfied to just accept the wasteful approach everybody else in our industry takes. So I’ve been thinking hard on solutions.

Some are not obvious at all. This photo is from 7/11 in Japan. And it’s one of the coolest things I’ve seen on this trip, and one that might impact Clover directly.

Those are cups of ice. Yup. So you grab one, peel the lid, and then you can pour your drink over the ice.

On the face that looks really wasteful. But I’m looking at it thinking how it might be brilliant. First, you put a value or price tag on ice. That’s huge. Ice consumes resources. And when as consumers we think of resource consumption as free it’s never a good thing.

But the other thing these cups do is free the 7/11 from having to run an ice machine. Which is amazing for so many reasons.

On the other hand in the 7/11 context people are buying a drink in a bottle and pouring it into cup. But what if you used this cup with a fountain? Or had ice cups available next to cold pre-packaged drinks to satisfy the 10% of customers who want ice cup without having to have the ice cup for 100% of customers?

I need to think further on it but at first take I’m thinking it might be a clever tool in reducing Clover’s environmental footprint.

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