Unintended consequences can mess things up big league


Last night, my wife and I did some shopping. At the checkout, we were reminded that California has just passed a law banning single-use plastic bags. Our options were to bring our own reusable bags (or, portable germ factories as I call them) or buy their multi-use bags at ten cents a pop.

Curiously, the multi-use bags are also plastic, so I’m guessing this is less a landfill thing than a California revenue thing, but whatever it is, I’m against it. (Horse Feathers.) So, like many of our co-shoppers, on principle, my wife and I put our purchases back in the cart, bagless, and proceeded towards the exit.

At the door, we were met by an employee who asked to see our receipt and then did a quick look at the contents of our cart. We received her blessing and left.

I wondered why the store had implemented this new procedure of checking carts and my wife pointed out that it was the new law. They needed to have someone make sure customers didn’t roll out the door without paying, something they didn’t have to do when we all had bags.

I had to laugh. This store, and others no doubt, now has to pay someone ($15 an hour) to stand by the door to prevent shoppers from ripping them off. Will the store pass this cost along to customers? Will another store attract their customers with offers to absorb the cost of the bags? Will absorbing the cost of bags be cheaper than hiring additional employees to guard the door? How might this affect online purchases and deliveries?

Unintended consequences.

The point is that any time you introduce something new, you have to think it through. Your new ad campaign, seminar, or website may attract new clients, for example, but alienate or confuse your current client base.

Everything has consequences. Make sure you consider them.

Good marketing begins with a good plan