Big Life with Ray Waters Neal Campbell no

Knowing your target audience is one of the most important steps in growing a business. This matters as it relates to your product and how you will market it. In the 1980’s the A&W restaurant chain decided to introduce a hamburger to compete with McDonalds iconic 1/4 pounder. They did all the research and knew they had a winner. They would sell the ⅓ pounder but sell it at the same price as the 1/4 pounder. It would be a bigger burger for the same money. But to their surprise, when they introduced their burger it flopped.

A&W did extensive research to see why the burger had not sold well and their findings amazed them. They discovered most people aren’t good with fractions. You and I know ⅓ is bigger than ¼. But the average person sadly does not pick up on that. To them 4 is bigger than 3 so the ¼ pounder has to be bigger than the ⅓ pounder. I know that is hard to believe but it is true.

Alfred Taubman, the owner of A&W, described the marketing failure in his book, Threshold Resistance: “More than half of the participants in the Yankelovich focus groups questioned the price of our burger. “Why,” they asked, “should we pay the same amount for a third of a pound of meat as we do for a quarter-pound of meat at McDonald’s? You’re overcharging us.” Honestly. People thought a third of a pound was less than a quarter of a pound. After all, three is less than four!”

I write all of this to make a simple point. If you are going to use fractions in your advertisements, make sure your market understands them. Don’t assume anything. Question everything. If you are trying to communicate, then make sure the people you are trying to reach understand what you are saying. Talking over someone’s head doesn’t make you smarter. It just shows you don’t know how to aim very well.

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