Consumers’ desire for personalisation and mass-customisation does not mean they want every purchase decision to be complex. Consumers want decision simplicity, a topic covered here previously. Here are two new tales on the same topic.

Liquid-Plumr vs Drano

Have you shopped for household drain cleaner lately? Liquid-Plumr owns the retail shelf with more than half a dozen unique product variations:

Liquid-Plumr® Full Clog Destroyer™
Liquid-Plumr® Hair Clog Eliminator®
Liquid-Plumr® Urgent Clear
Liquid-Plumr® Double Impact® (snake & gel)
Foaming Clog Fighter (for slow running drains)
Liquid-Plumr® Maintenance

It does make sense that different types of clogs would respond better to specific formulations, but does that mean Hair Clog Eliminator won’t work on my food clog? Do I need to buy four or five Liquid-Plumr SKUs for $50 to cover my options? No, I bought the one-type-for-everything Drano brand for $8. It still comes in a small compact package that handles many more applications than the big Liquid-Plumr jugs. And it worked just fine.

Tim Hortons ‘Uncomplicated Latte’

The Uncomplicated Latte is a marketing campaign to support the launch of Tim Hortons answer to McCafé—made-to-order espresso products using fresh traditional ingredients. This is technically an up-grade to existing café products which are reconstituted from powder and now only exist in flavoured versions.

The purpose of the marketing campaign appears to be to re-assure brand loyalists that Timmies isn’t turning into Starbucks and to minimise expectations and operational issues at the store level. Both of these objectives are very important. The reason for the former was covered off well by the National Post[1]. The latter is important because the launch is anything but uncomplicated at the operator level:

  • The new equipment cost the franchisees $12,000, at a very difficult time in their relationship with new-ish brand owner Restaurant Brand International (RBI).
  • Simplicity only relates to size—a 425ml ‘medium’. You can actually add espresso shots, flavour shots, whipped cream and get other espresso versions like cappuccinos and (gasp!) Americanos.
  • Even The Uncomplicated Latte takes more time for a franchisee’s server to make than any other beverage product—but they get more money for it. Layer on too much Starbucks-like personalisation and total operation may suffer.

Result: very decent product quality at a price that’s right for the Tim Hortons brand. In no way was I was trying to mislead you (for the purpose of attracting attention) with the main image above…

Notes and references:

  1. Calum Marsh, “With its ‘Uncomplicated Latte,’ is Tim Hortons risking its blue-collar brand?”, National Post, May 4, 2017.