A fast-food company decided it’d be good to sell more milkshakes because they have great profit margins. They needed to know two things: how much can I raise prices on milkshakes before it’s too expensive, and how much could they improve it before it didn’t make any difference. “How much they could improve it” meant discovering what flavors people prefer, how thick the consistency can be before it’s more pudding more than milkshake, and what variety of flavors they can offer before they’re too exotic.
But when they observed who bought milkshakes, they realized they were asking the wrong questions.
They noticed that their consumers were men over 30 who did not have time to have breakfast at home and needed to eat in the car, and who drank milkshakes because they are quick to buy and easy to consume while driving, filled them with energy, and left them satiated until lunchtime. It was even guilt-free, because, in the minds of consumers, they were having a healthy breakfast of milk and fruit.
When the company realized this, they were able to improve the experience of milkshake drinking without changing the product. And what happened? Sales grew 700 percent.
For me, the milkshake is a simple example of how experiences have much more potential than products. It’s the Forrest Gump of innovation.