Today, Seth Godin wonders why anyone would buy Kraft guacamole a second time.
I think I understand why the folks at Kraft prefer to use modified food starch instead of avocados (cheaper, easier to source, keeps better) but what I don't understand is why people buy it more than once.
In fact, over time, a generation grows up thinking this is the 'regular kind' and wrinkling its nose at the chunky, irregular original kind.
How did we get programmed this way?
It's a good question. Many people do appear to program themselves into believing that guacamole should be creamy and smooth instead of chunky, that Italian bread should have a soft crust, that all specialty coffee beans should be dark roasted.
Of course none of that is true.
So why do we keep going back to bad chain restaurants and buy processed supermarket foods we know are inauthentic. Why does anyone order Coors Light ever? Why isn't everyone a member of Slow Food?
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
But in a day and age when the most popular tv programs are reality shows where people willingly shame themselves for celebrity, maybe "shame on me" no longer matters.
Much has been written lately about the increase in teens drinking coffee. But how many have actually had a cup of great coffee, unadorned by syrups and sugar? Not all that many.
Like Seth's guacamole example, this is why so many teens say they love coffee when in fact they're not drinking coffee - they're drinking caffeine-laden caramel-flavored milkshakes that require extra dark roasts in order to taste any coffee at all. Give many teens an actual cup of good coffee, they won't drink it.
It's what Seth calls "marketing yourself into a corner". Yet the chains are happily marketing these drinks to make this quarter's financials. And when customer of those chains go elsewhere, they expect that other store buys into the same philosophy.
Yesterday, Seth Godin commented on the positive business aspects of Starbucks offering tens of thousands of choices. The point being that consumers like ordering exactly what they want because it's ego fulfilling.
But what if doing so is the wrong thing to do to the coffee?
A common example: Should we as coffee professionals purposely scald milk* and ruin a great shot of top quality espresso in order to fulfill an order for a 172-degree latte? Or should we tell the customer we're not going to do that - using it as an opportunity for educating the customer on how to create the best coffee drink and why we prefer to do it "our" way.
Maybe doing so good for business. Or maybe it's not.
Whether you agree the above sentiments, at least you're thinking about it. And that's a start.
*For those who don't know, milk scalds over about 155F (see Jason's comments below as he notes a higher temp). The taste characteristics change considerably for the worse. We stop steaming at 150 degrees as the temp will rise another 5-10 degrees in the pitcher before pouring.