Hot Chocolate Tastes Better in an Orange Mug


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That is not a random provocative statement (though I am guilty of those on occasion) it is a scientifically proven fact. Charles Spence, of the University of Oxford and Betina Piqueras-Fiszman from the Polytechnic University of Valencia have statistically validated it.

They served a group of people the same hot chocolate in white mugs, cream mugs, red mugs and orange mugs and asked them how it tasted. In some mugs it tasted too sweet and in some too bitter, however, hot chocolate from orange mugs is, as Goldilocks would say, “just right”.

Fascinating but… why should you care?

If you are trying to beat Starbucks at their own game this is important news, you can make your hot chocolate taste better than their’s simply by changing the colour of your mugs. No secret recipe required.

But if you don’t brew hot drinks for a living the story still provokes a couple of questions worth answering:

1. Do you know everything there is to know?

Do you know all that is known about your business? Can you really explain call routing or queuing theory or shelf placement or ski waxing? Or do the scientists (and your competitors) know things that you are blissfully unaware of.

2. Are you testing new approaches?

Have you tried changing the layout of your reception area, or the way you schedule your repairmen. Are you measuring the results; looking to see what works and what doesn’t, learning how to optimise the service you give your customers?

3. Are you acting on what you find out?

If the data shows you that one way is better, and your customers also tell you that that one way is better, are you moving to that better way? Are you actively moving your business forward?

Now for the killer question…

Here is my last question for you. When will Starbucks start to serve their hot chocolate in scientifically superior orange mugs? Will they change? Or will they have a long debate about the brand values of their white and green mugs, and the taste of their specially sourced coco powder, and the investment cost of all that new crockery?

This year? Next year? Sometime? Never?

I know where my money is.

What would your organisation do?

A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle ~ Khalil Gibran

Starbucks Hot Chocolate

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Image by Chris_J

Republished with author's permission from original post.

James Lawther
James Lawther is a middle-aged middle manager. To reach this highly elevated position he has worked for many organisations, from supermarkets to tax collectors and has had multiple roles from running a night shift to doing operational research. He gets upset by operations that don't work and mildly apoplectic about poor customer service.


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