Product Managers Prepare To Battle It Out Over A New Type Of Milk

Are you ready for some newfangled milk?
Are you ready for some newfangled milk?
Image Credit: Mike Mozart

When you go shopping, what do you get? If you are like most of us you probably pick up some eggs, some cheese, some vegetables, and, oh yeah, some milk. However, what type of milk do you get? For a very long time our choices have been somewhat limited. We always got the same types: whole, 2%, or skim. However, some creative product managers are getting ready to change the product development definition of milk and the existing milk product managers are going to have be be ready to deal with it. What’s going on here?

The New Milk

The one thing that all product managers have to learn how to deal with is change. In the world of milk not that much has changed for a number of years. However, now an upstart firm has come along with a new idea. They are marketing a new type of milk that is not without its own share of controversy. The claim is that this new type of milk will be easier on the drinker’s digestive system. Initially, the big existing dairy operations didn’t think that much of these claims. However, the success of this new type of milk has changed their minds and they are now getting ready to introduce their own versions.

The new company is called A2 Milk and it is based in New Zealand. Their milk product has sold very well in New Zealand, Australia, and China. It is the process of rolling its product out into the U.S. market. It’s been so successful that its revenues have been growing at a rate of 70% in the past year and they’ve been able to capture more than 10% of the milk market in Australia. So what makes their product so special? Their A2 milk is different than other milks because other milks contain both the A1 and the A2 proteins. The people who support A2 milk say that it’s the A1 protein that causes indigestion for people who drink normal milk. This is a problem that even so-called lactose-free milk will not solve.

This is a great claim to make, but there are skeptics. The people who don’t believe in A2 Milk are saying that there have not been enough studies to prove their claims. A2 milk is naturally produced from cows that have a particular set of genes. In order to identify what cows can be used to produce this type of milk, a DNA test of the cows is required. Even if the experts are not convinced that A2 Milk really has the benefits that are being stated for it, it turns out that popular opinion is a powerful force. This is what is causing the big dairy companies to consider entering into the A2 milk market. In the U.S. sales of milk have been falling by about 7% each year for the past four years. This decline has been caused by the arrival of almond milk and dairy-free ice cream. This cannot be looking good on anyone’s product manager resume.

How This Battle Is Going To Go Down

If your market was shrinking and new type of popular product came along, then you would think that this would make the milk product managers happy, right? Introducing an A2 based milk comes with its own unique set of risks. Since there is some controversy about the claims about what A2 milk can do, there is the risk that future research is going to show that there really is no benefit to drinking A2 milk. However, at least in the short term the people who buy milk are becoming aware of the A2 story and they are making purchasing decisions based on it. Only small studies have been conducted so far and a number of them have been funded by the A2 Milk company.

The reason that the existing dairy product managers are now starting to move into the A2 milk market is because the recent sales growth in the A2 milk market has shown the potential for this product. One key market that has been targeted by A2 Milk has been babies. Some initial studies have shown that babies have positive digestive comfort after having been fed A2 milk. What this means is that A2 milk is getting even more positive market feedback. A2 milk is available in the U.S. at stores like Wegmans, ShopRite and Stop & Shop. In other parts of the country their product is available through Whole Foods.

The A2 Milk product managers are the first ones to admit that more research into the health benefits of their product is required. However, they believe that there is enough positive feedback already about the benefits of the product that they feel that it needs to be made available to customers. One of the biggest challenges facing the A2 Milk product managers is that if the large and well-established dairy firms decide to get into the A2 milk market they may have difficulty competing. The established firms have well established distribution networks and well known brands. However, the product managers believe that the entrance of the bigger players into their field simply justifies what they have been saying all along about the benefits of A2 milk.

What All Of This Means For You

One of more common products that just about everyone buys when they go shopping for food is milk. The milk market has not changed in a number of years. However, now an upstart firm in New Zealand has created a new type of milk called A2 milk that they claim is easier for people to digest. Now the big players in the milk business have taken notice and they may be getting into this market.

Initially the big manufactures of milk had discounted the claims that were being made by A2 Milk. However, when their product was a success, all of sudden product managers at the big firms took a look at their product manager job description and started to pay attention. A2 milk is different than other milks because other milks contain both the A1 and the A2 proteins. The people who support A2 milk say that it’s the A1 protein that causes indigestion for people who drink normal milk. There are a number of people who do not believe this claim. However, since the dairy market has been declining for the past few years, product managers are willing to try anything that can cause their market to start to grow. Established product managers are interested in entering this market even though there is a risk that future medical studies may show that there is not benefit to drinking A2 milk. No matter what the real health benefits are, A2 milk has been growing in popularity. It is now available in the U.S. in a number of different locations. A big challenge that the A2 Milk product managers are going to be facing is that if the established milk firms enter into the market they have bigger distribution networks and better known brands.

Milk is a popular drink and it is an important part of a number of different recipes and products. For people who have digestive problems after drinking milk, a solution to this problem has been something that they have been searching for. A2 milk may be what they need. The A2 Milk product managers have a lot of challenges ahead of them but they may have found that they have a product that has a huge market ahead of it. Let’s see how this milk war sorts itself out!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: If you were an A2 Milk product manager how would you compete with established dairy firms that entered your market with a competing product?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Just imagine if you were a product manager at one of the big technology firms out there (Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Oracle, etc.). You would always be under pressure to change your product development definition and come up with new and different ways for the company to make money. You’d probably look at all of the different markets that your company’s resources could be applied to looking for one where you could generate the most money. In the end, you’d probably always come back to the world of finance – that’s where your company’s big computers could do a lot of good. However, what would you do if your biggest customers were already there?

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