Tuesday 20 August 2013

Scrummdiddlyumpti... bawm bawm

The new Wonka branded Nestle chocolate has set itself up to fail.

I was at Woolworths picking up ingredients for nachos when I saw the new Wonka endcap. 

Like Pavlov's dog I began salivating.

The Wonka name triggered memories of chocolate lakes and never ending gobstoppers. I was in. I wanted some chocolate. 

Evidently, the branding had done its job. In that moment, the money Nestle paid for the Wonka name was justified.

I walked over to the display and reached out to grab the new chocolate and go about my day. 

But then I was stopped in my tracks. I was faced with an unexpected choice. 

There was actually four new 'crazy' flavours to pick from. 

So, I went and grabbed my favourite Cadbury block instead.

What happened? I wanted to try the new Nestle Wonka chocolate, but when I had to pick between four options it simply became easier to go grab the chocolate I bought last time. 

It reminds me of an oft referenced experiment about Jam. Straight from Barry Schwartz' watershed Behavioural Economics book, Paradox of Choice (2004, p.19-20):

"A study was set in a gourmet food store in an upscale community where, on weekends, the owners commonly set up sample tables of new items. 

When researchers set up a display featuring a line of exotic, high-quality jams, customers who came by could taste samples, and they were given a coupon for a dollar off if they bought a jar. 

In one condition of the study, 6 varieties of the jam were available for tasting. In another, 24 varieties were available. In either case, the entire set of 24 varieties was available for purchase. 

The large array of jams attracted more people to the table than the small array, though in both cases people tasted about the same number of jams on average. 

When it came to buying, however, a huge difference became evident. 

Thirty percent of the people exposed to the small array of jams actually bought a jar; only 3 percent of those exposed to the large array of jams did so."

Choice is paralysing. 

Choice (The same choice we fought those damn commie pinkos for) became a barrier to me trying this new product, and as a result, I reacted by being risk averse and returning to the familiar. (See Buyhaviour 2: Status Quo Bias for more on that)

This kind of behaviour, it turns out, is predictably irrational (As Dan Ariely would say).

The advertising was fine. If there was ever a 90 minute film category at Cannes, then Willy Wonka would sure be a hot favourite (With Tom Hanks' Cast Away a close second).

Because when I saw it in the supermarket I instinctively wanted to try it.

But then I was presented with choice. I was forced to think rationally, and rationally thinking I didn't really want to take the risk of buying new chocolate. Not when my favourite (safe) Cadbury block was only 2 metres away.

Better luck next time Nestle. 

Schwartz, B. 2004. Paradox of Choice. Harper Collins. 

By Christopher Ott

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