Whenever I go to Starbucks I usually order a tall iced coffee, no sweetener, no cream, no room, just the coffee. This time was no different.
The barista noticed that I had one of those certificates that grants you any beverage at any size at no cost to you.
You see, Starbucks gives away these certificates when they mess up your order, or in my case, when they forget your order entirely.
For the most part Starbucks tends not to disappoint me, it was no different this time, the barista was sweet, cheery and helpful, as most baristas are.
But there was something she asked me that got me thinking a bit.
As I placed my order she asked, “Are you sure you don’t want to order something else? Maybe like a venti frappuccino? They are really good, or maybe a venti iced coffee instead?”
It got me thinking when you aren’t paying for something, for some reason in our society the right size often is the bigger and more expensive one.
You see the tall iced coffee has zero calories and zero grams of sugar and cost $1.95. A venti frappuccino? 330 calories with 70 grams of sugar (which is about the same of sugar in three regular size chocolate bars) and cost $4.95.
I’m not sure if she is incentivized to try and sell a certain amount of frappuccinos, and I’m sure she was just trying to be helpful, but assuming that a larger more expensive drink was in my best interest was indicative of the cultural norm that bigger is better and that the right size is the bigger size when you aren’t paying. It’s in a way like our current healthcare crisis, when you know you’re not paying, and the provider knows she will get reimbursed for even the most expensive of treatments, then the incentives nudge providers towards the bigger and more expensive treatments rather than the right sized ones.
I appreciate where her suggestions came from (he’ll be a happier customer with more) but it’s these types of defaults and hidden scripts that lead you to eating more than you really need to and spend more than you need to.
Now indulge me a bit on this, what if I walked in there asking for a venti frappuccino extra whip cream, with 5 extra pumps of caramel syrup. What if the barista was incentivized to make me choose the smaller & healthier option instead of the bigger and sugar laden one? What if the she was instructed to politely question my obviously unhealthy decision and help me make a healthier one? The script might read, “Are you sure? There is 100 grams of sugar in that drink which is 5x the recommended amount you need per day, can I recommend a smaller size or our “skinnier” versions?”
Maybe that just doesn’t work in real life, since people don’t want to be told they are doing it all wrong, and barista’s are paid to make the drink I ordered in a way that I expect it to be and make it taste good, not help me make a healthier decision.
But maybe people wouldn’t mind, I certainly wouldn’t, in fact I’d appreciate it.
What other defaults do you notice towards bigger and less healthier options, rather than the smaller and right sized ones?
Photo by TerryJohnston