Then Schultz visited one of his stores, where he saw one customer after another leave—without a purchase—because they’d been told they couldn’t have their coffee the way they wanted it. Schultz realized that it would be more profitable to let customers profane their coffee than to stand his ground(s).
One of our restaurant clients wanted to produce a mini menu to include with to-go orders. It had space to list ten items, so I suggested featuring his ten most popular. He demurred. He wanted to list other, more obscure items. When I asked if these items sold well, he said, “No, my customers want burgers. But I want them to buy these other sandwiches instead, because they’re so much classier.” I said, “Sell your customers what they want, not what you believe they should want.” He pulled out a notebook, wrote that down, and my head swelled.
Smart marketers discover what customers want and provide it, even if it seems distasteful. If enough customers wanted a mix of marshmallow and hollandaise sauces on a Quarter Pounder, you can bet McDonald’s would serve it.
(Caveat: Market demand is no excuse to sell a product that doesn’t work or that harms people, even if the product is legal. Not that that stops every marketer from doing just that.)