The recent Tweet from Freakonomics http://bit.ly/9jsc3r, in which they tell how American supposedly fine wine aficionados could not tell the difference between the wine they were given and the one they were looking (and paying) for, reminds me of 3 different cases to point how we can be influenced in our perceptions:
- The first is a personal anecdote. I have always preferred Coca-Cola over Pepsi, one of these people who had never bought a Pepsi in a supermarket. In 2007-2008 I did a test at home to see whether I was able to distinguish one from the other. I did the test with my partner. I was blind-folded while she poured same amount of Cola and Pepsi in two identical glasses. She left them for some couple minutes in the fridge so they would get same temperature, etc, etc. Then I tasted them. After trying the first glass I said “Pepsi, I don’t even need to try the other”. Then I thought it twice. I tried the second glass. Thought for some seconds. Then again the first. Then… then… I mixed everything in my mind and couldn’t distinguish one from the other, to the point of changing my initial choice and being wrong.
Whenever I tell this story to my friends, they tell me “I can distinguish them”: I challenge you to do so. Find a helper and take the test. Please let me know the result.
If you thought my test is not representative, here is another story:
- This is a TED talk by Benjamin Wallace on the price of happiness. Benjamin goes exploring different luxury articles and finding that they don’t bring him or those close to him any special feeling. He indeed does a similar test to the one I did, this time with luxury oil, with more varieties to distinguish and more people to try them, the result… guess it.
After having read the case of the fake Pinot Noir, having suffered the non-distinguish ability of Pepsi and hearing to the TED talk cases… we might wonder: why are we mislead so much by perceptions? Why do we pay more for something that doesn’t bring us any enhanced customer experience except for being able to tell that we paid that amount for this?
Last case I wanted to point…
- The Dutch are well known for being a very pragmatic nation. Here you have a case, again, for wines (just to close the loop). What do you care about the brand of a wine? Let’s remove it. What do you appreciate in it? Is it the grape type? Is it the fruit flavour, the tannins? So that’s what you need to know!! The rest… better to call it “4. Red Wine” and remembering that it comes in a blue bottle… check it: http://94wines.com.
4 responses to “Nothing like a good red wine…”
Good post, Javi: a good compilation of marketing successes. 🙂
Anyway, you mix two things when you compare the blind testing of Coca Cola and Pepsi with the overpricing of some luxury assets. Coca Cola and Pepsi prices are similar and they are two different products.
In fact, last weekend I order Coca Cola in a restaurant, and they brought me a glass with a liquid in it. When I tasted it (just a little bit), I said “This is Pepsi”. And it was. I told the waiter and he brought me a Coca Cola. When I ordered my second drink (again: “Coca Cola”), it was highly improbable that they had brought me Pepsi again… but they did. So, I DO notice the difference, and have witnesses.
And now, answering to your rhetorical question… Many of the things you mention are overpriced just because its scarcity, or the marketing around it. It’s not about our perceptions, it’s as you say, to be able to say “I bought this for this price”. Sad enough.
It’s interesting to see that you do distinguish them, I may ask your witnesses though :-). As a “major” shareholder of Coca-Cola I’m also happy that you do make the difference bewteen the two drinks.
About luxury items: Maybe I’m too Castillian for those fine flavours.
On the 94wines site, I think Luca can enlighten us a bit, as I’ve been told that she was giving it a try today…
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