This week, I actually deviated from my usual shopping route for the first time in my life, just to purchase a carton of a dairy product. The product was Optimel, in the latest seasonal flavour: blueberry/vanilla. But is this particular flavour really so heavenly? While the answer to that one is wholeheartedly affirmative, there was another reason why I simply had to have this special (temporary) seasonal flavour.
On Dutch TV, they ran a series called ‘Meiden van De Wit’. It was an excellent drama TV show, and the best thing to have been produced in the Netherlands for at least the past decade, in my opinion. The series was about a family business: De Wit Dairy. Following the murder of the family’s patriarch and managing director of the firm, his three daughters suddenly find themselves in charge of the dairy plant. As the youngest member of a family comprising three daughters too, I myself immediately identified with the character Frédérique de Wit, the rather licentious youngest sister. She had the best job in the whole plant: Mixing up test tubes of mysterious substances in the lab, in a feverish attempt to develop new flavours and products. Incidentally, she showed no sign of ever having received even the most basic of scientific training; not hesitating for a moment to simply spoon her latest concoctions directly from the pan to taste. This convinced me even more that hers was the ideal job for me .
In reality, however, it soon became apparent that I was sadly lacking in the sort of scientific mind required to pursue such a career. So, I never actually made it to the R&D department of a foodstuffs manufacturer. Fortunately, my current position as a communications consultant, for foodstuffs firms among others, has placed me in close touch with the industry.
I recently also voted on www.optimel.nl for the latest flavour that I would like to be available in the shops. And apart from giving me the feeling that the brand certainly has my interests at heart, Optimel seems to play along with my fantasy of participating in the discoveries and innovations taking place in its laboratories. After all, accumulating (potential) customers’ wishes and ideas with a view to co-creating a brand new product, appears to me a fabulous way of truly achieving consumer involvement. What would really impress me, however, is if Campina (which markets the Optimel brand) were to opt to take this concept one step further…
Dear ladies and gents at Optimel, can I please visit your dairy plant as wannabe R&D technician for a day, so that I might experience firsthand how my favourite new flavour (red fruit/mint) is actually produced?