It’s not all right with me.
Every now and then I’ll indulge myself and dip into the McDonald’s across from our office for a breakfast snack. I can’t be the only one out there jonesing for a hash brown patty! A funny thing happens each time I order: the sausage biscuit with egg is my jam and, of course, I like it with hash browns. I have amazing coffee from home in a super insulated Yeti mug, so I don’t need a drink.
The individual price of the sandwich plus hash brown exceeds the meal price which includes a drink. The drink options are coffee, soda, orange juice, or milk, and the non-soda options add small increments to the price, none of which add up to more than the combination of a sandwich and browns a la carte. Sometimes I’ll get coffee and spill it into my travel mug, which results in undermining the last few sips I take while finishing my snack. Other times I’ll get chocolate milk, and slam that down, mainly as a nod to my youthful self who would have never let an opportunity for choco milk pass by. Twice I’ve forgotten that I don’t really like their orange juice, or don’t like it trying to overpower the savory notes of the biscuit. Yes, I have tried to substitute an additional ‘brown for the drink, to no avail.
Last week I ordered the number 4 with “the least expensive drink option”. I received a small Dr. Pepper and tossed it out six feet later in the next waste receptacle. The immediate disposal, though equal waste to if I’d consumed it, felt ridiculous. I’m resigned to order “Number 4 meal, no drink” from now on. It’s the closest I can get to the ideal terms of the deal as presented by this merchant. Am I thrilled about it? No, it’s silly and a wee bit frustrating. This is a painless junk food indulgence example. What about on your cable bill though, still painless? Really, so if I add home phone, a service I have no interest in, I qualify for a superfecta bundle promo and pay less?! What if you want a volume price break on some pop tarts but really only want the brown sugar cinnamon and get stuck with the three other berry flavors that are just ok?
Nobody wants a bad bundle. The examples I’ve laid out are the result of macro-analytics dictating pricing and strategy logic that breaks down under my transactional experience. Why didn’t they consider the guy without the drink? Don’t I save the cost of beverage, container, and handling? Shouldn’t this cost less?
I understand that I may be a market exception in these cases, and there is not sufficient awareness or incentive for the merchant to make any changes in my favor. Regardless, if my buying needs fit outside their business logic, I still have an awkward experience.
I’ve been on the other end of the bad bundle, too. At my first estimating/sales position, I was with a large painting company in San Francisco, and I’d make the mistake of including a small item on a large job, such as the small shed on an entire house repaint. Customers that didn’t see value in the shed painting may ask, please remove the shed from the quote, and then I’m in the awkward position of either taking a hit to my potential gross profit should I get the job, or pushing the bundle on the customer to keep my price point.
Bad bundling, confusing terms, unbalanced component pricing, and more are all enemies of value exchange. The best transaction are those where the maximum of value created is consumed. Waste on either end erodes the potential value for both the merchant and customer.
Time to pretend you are your customer:
Find out what your customer values and deliver that to the best of your ability. Keep asking and keep adding to the value you create and exchange. Again, no one wants a bad bundle; they want value.