Hershey’s Pieces, Brought To You By B-School
An article in the Feb 17, 2010 New York Times Business section included this quote: “I think you’re going to move into more usage occasions with this delivery method.” Jody Cook was describing:
a. Staples new Direct-to-Desk service which will restock disappearing pens on demand. The Deluxe package will also restore missing tape dispensers and staplers on a quarterly basis.
b. Dominos Pizza’s announcement that it will incorporate skateboarders and rock-climbers into its delivery fleet to expand the reach of pizza from the deepest pit to the highest wall.
c. Hershey’s new line of Pieces in Almond Joy and York Peppermint flavors, those little button siblings of Reese’s Pieces that promise endless opportunities for grabbing and going (or just sitting).
OK, that was an easy one. This is the Candy Professor, after all. But really: “usage occasions”? “Delivery method”? It makes candy eating sound like something they invented over in the business school.
So when you’re sitting with a big bag of Almond Joy Pieces in your lap, flipping the channel between Soap Net and Ice Hockey, that would be a usage occasion. And when you’re driving down the highway, looking for adventure, that would be a usage occasion. And when you’re standing in line at the bank desperately hoping that the negative sign on you statement is a clerical error, that would be a usage occasion. And wherever you are, popping those Pieces in your mouth, over and over and over, that would be a delivery method. What Ms. Cook is trying to say is “selling candy in little pieces in big bags is going to make it easier for more people to eat more candy at more times and in more places.” And that is something they came up with over in the business school.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against little candy bites, or candy-coated chocolate pieces, or any sort of candy for that matter. But I do feel insulted by marketers who say with a straight face, “The point [of the Pieces] is that it gives people the option to eat less and more sensibly.”
Folks, this is crazy talk. When you buy the little 80 cent bag of M&Ms or Reese’s Pieces, you eat the whole bag, right? So what happens when you put 10 oz. of candy in the bag? You’ve seen the research on potato chips: when you hand someone a bag of chips, they eat it. Big bag, small bag, doesn’t matter. Do we really think that America, having filled its collective cup holders with no-mess, no-fuss candy bits, is prepared to stop munching before all the candy is gone?
The ad campaign from Hershey’s will promote the idea that little pieces of candy have fewer calories than big pieces of candy. This as an empirical fact, but entirely irrelevant. What matters is that lots of pieces of little candy can have way more calories that one big piece of candy, and Hershey’s Pieces make it easier to forget what you’re eating. So you eat more. The marketers know this too. It’s no secret. Here’s market research analyst Marcia Mogelonsky: “Sure, half of us are going to pour the whole bag into our mouths.” Yikes.
Eat candy, but eat it with your eyes open! I’m thinking of adding a new topic to the Candy Professor course syllabus: “Mindful Candy Eating: The Buddhist Path to Sweet Enlightenment.”
Andrew Adam Newman, “Candy Makers Cut the Calories, by Cutting the Size” , New York Times Business Section, 17 Feb 2010