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Pike Place Roast: Now, still the same!

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Redundant advertising or brilliant ploy?
Photo: Rick Lax

Starbucks has a new ad campaign. They’ve plastered their windows with signs that read, “PIKE PLACE ROAST, $1.50, Tall, Hot & Brewed.”

The price is nothing new; the new thing is Starbucks calling attention to its cheapest drink option.

Here’s the funny thing: I’m pretty sure the new signs are going to make people order more expensive drinks.

Sound crazy? It’s not…

Last year, researchers at Duke found that including healthy options on restaurant menus caused diners to make less healthy choices. When diners got to choose between a bacon cheeseburger, a grilled chicken sandwich, and a fish sandwich, 17 percent of them picked the bacon cheeseburger. But when a garden burger was added to the options, 37 percent of diners went for the bacon cheeseburger.

What the hell happened? The Duke researches suspected that the mere presence of a healthy item satisfied consumers’ desire to be healthy and allowed them to go for what they really wanted: the unhealthiest option.

Same thing will probably happen with Starbucks. Everybody complains about the price of the drinks at Starbucks, but if people know they have an option that costs a mere $1.50, they’ll feel more comfortable getting the more expensive drinks they really want (because they’ll know they could get a cheaper drink if they so chose).

Tell me that’s not a brilliant move on Starbucks’ part.

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