Monday, October 23, 2006

Rationality and Product Preference

About a year ago, for fun, I went to grocery stores and bought as many different kinds of cola soft drinks as I could find, including:

  • Coke
  • Pepsi
  • HEB Original Cola
  • Safeway Select Cola
  • RC Cola
I then proceeded to administer blind taste tests to guests whenever I had people over to my loft. The results were interesting, mainly because what people thought was their favorite cola differed greatly from their actual preference.

Safeway Select Cola performed best overall. Unfortunately, I can no longer find it at the Randall's stores where I originally bought it.

I administered this test to only a few people (about six, if I recall correctly), so take the results with a grain of salt. But chalk this anecdote up as another example of how customers have all sorts of prejudices that interfere with knowing what they really like.


Kevin Brennan said...

My Dad, for many years, was the head of marketing research for a major beer company. In that industry, it's pretty much taken for granted that the image associated with a brand of beer is far more important in driving consumer choices than the actual taste of the beer (which does vary, but not as much as people tend to believe).

Scott Sehlhorst said...

A fun random anecdote.

When drinking a small sample of a cola, people prefer a sweeter flavor. When drinking an entire can of the cola, people preferred the less sweet flavor.

This was the trick that made the pepsi challenge so successful. It is also the misinterpreted marketing data that lead to the New Coke fiasco.

Mike Lunt said...

I have to second Scott's comment. Gladwell explicitly explains why these taste tests are flawed in 'Blink'.

Scott Sehlhorst said...

Thanks Mike!

I had forgotten where I heard that. Credit to Gladwell.