Feb 6, 2017

Will you give up choice for convenience?

A couple of days back, I was at a supermarket, shopping for groceries, when a new promotional coffee stand inside the premises caught my attention. There were 2 guys standing, along with few coffee packs lined up in front of them. Curiosity caught the better of me and I asked them what it is.

The tallest among the two (Let’s call him A) quickly responded, “Ma'am, this is Nescafe Latte. You can quickly prepare coffee when you come back from work or when you have guests. Please taste it”. Being a coffee lover, I thought why not and said, “Just a sample”.

A instructed the other person(Let’s call him B) to make one for me. B promptly emptied a sachet of coffee mix and added hot water till it reached half a cup. When I said “enough”, he stopped but A instructed him in a low voice that the coffee will taste sweet and that he needs to add more hot water for one sachet. B followed the instruction and he handed me a full cup of hot coffee.

Meanwhile, my little girl who accompanied me started moving to the other side of the store. So holding my coffee, I followed her. When I had my first sip, it tasted so sweet and bad. I couldn’t drink it anymore. I emptied in a garbage can and continued to proceed with my shopping.

This experience made me ponder over a few questions on “convenience”.
How far can the food brands take “convenience” as a promise and come up with a new line of products?
Are we ready to compromise on “choice” and give up control, just because something is quick and easy to make?
Are our taste buds so attuned to sugar (and salt) that we can eat any rubbish if it is sweet (or salty)?

Each of us prefers coffee in a certain way - strong / light, less sugar / more sugar. When you want to unwind after a long day of work, you would prepare coffee the way you like it and then sit back and relax. Even when we have guests, we ask a couple of questions before serving them - “How much sugar do you like in your coffee?”, “Do you prefer a strong or light one?”.

We would like to be in control of certain parameters, especially on beverages and foods we love. Just because something is quick to prepare, are we okay with giving up control over small but important criteria to us?

This experience also led me to think how a sample promotion campaign should be executed. If a potential customer is interested in trying out, all they need is a sample. In this case, a few sips of good coffee is all it takes to make a purchase decision. The organizers could have kept a jar of coffee mix and added, say 1/4 tsp of it to prepare 1/4 cup. Instead, they wanted to show me the sachet and emptied it completely into a cup. The experience left a bad after-taste and I walked away.

Though the marketer spoke about the “benefits”, the demonstration and the product experience failed to meet expectations. It would have helped if they had given attention to little details, from the customer point of view - what's the quantity of sample coffee to serve, how to display the sachets, how to help customers to dispose of the empty / partially empty coffee cups?

More than that, the fundamental question still lingers in my mind - Are we ready to give up our personal preferences for the sake of convenience? Are we “that” rushed for time or is it a perception that marketers try to create on us and that we willingly accept?

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