Thursday, April 5, 2007

I think (poorly), therefore I am (easily manipulated)

A great article on green tea and the representative heuristic: Can Green Tea Save Your Soul?

"(S)tudies" indicating a pattern of weight loss...allow green tea to be sold as a psychic cancellation stamp on essences we love and know to be bad for us in excess...(Thus)...the success of Starbucks' Tazo Green Tea Frappuccino, which also uses matcha, green tea in pulverized form. A "venti" has 560 calories if you hold the whipped cream. (The unappreciated business genius of Starbucks is not charging $4 for a latte but rather giving adults permission to drink milkshakes, on the pretext that they are merely tea or coffee.)

Standard psychology analysis: Heuristics are simple rules or strategies for solving problems and making judgments. Heuristics require very little thought – just the selection of the rule or strategy and an application of it. Advertisers and news media can manipulate thinking by using our heuristics against us. The representativeness heuristic is a tendency to assume commonality between objects of similar appearance.  How might advertisers use this to their advantage? Consider some common catch-phrases used by advertisers for food: 100% Natural; Low-Carb; Low-Fat. These terms mean something to us. So, when we come across a new product with one of these terms associated with it, we tend to evaluate the new product based on our understanding of other products that have used these terms.

Thus, tie the idea of "green tea" into a 560 calorie afternoon snack, and you got your people thinking the equivalent of a "Slimfast" meal replacement, rather than a McDonald's milkshake.

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