Posted by: Matthew Molinari | February 14, 2012

Cup Size Matters

Recently, Tim Hortons announced that they were changing the size of their coffee cups in order to compete with the likes of Starbucks and McDonalds. Really, they just add a larger 24oz cup that was not offered previously and bumped all the other sizes down a notch (a small is now an extra small). The prices have stayed the same as they were before but there is still confusion over the switch.

It seems that Hortons could have made the switch easier by leaving the sizes named the same and instead just adding a larger size at the end of the spectrum. In the end, Hortons actually gave the customers what they wanted – a larger option. Customers had grown accustomed to the larger sizes offered at Starbucks and Hortons listened to their customer base and changed their menu offering accordingly.

However, they failed to make the switch easy which lead to confused and frustrated customers. There’s a valuable lesson here in that giving people what they want isn’t always easy. Beyond that, it’s also interesting to note that some studies are showing the public actually is no longer interested in “super-sizing” everything they buy (http://www.restaurantnews.com/trimming-super-size-with-psychology-from-half-order-sides-to-color-of-the-plates/).

This trend is actually somewhat useful for the restaurant industry since in most cases they are simply adding food to a plate to make it seem like the customer is getting a good deal. However, the extra food put on the plate is typically just starchy filler that ends up in the trash anyways. By moving towards requesting smaller portions, the customer is helping the restaurant put less on the plate which in the end will result in lower food costs for both.

So what does this all mean? Well, clearly there are two different trends going in opposite directions. However, while Hortons is responding to demand for more coffee, just as many customers in the video said they thought 24 oz was absurd. In the end, offering a larger cup of coffee results in a lot less waste than piling extra food onto a plate only to have it end up in the trash.

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