Recently I did a tour of the West Australian Wheatbelt for one of my clients, a utility company. I visited depots and offices educating their staff on healthy eating, health performance and hydration with the aim of impacting their health and safety, reducing fatigue and increasing productivity. As I made my way through Northam, Cunderdin, Merredin and Wyalkatchem I couldn’t help but notice what a stunning part of the world it is.
When we got to talking about food, and the issues that affect health and well-being, the talk of the town(s) was not what I expected. A craze had been sweeping the land. That craze was discounted Tim Tam biscuits. As most of you will know, Tim Tam’s are an Australian institution and are in fact modelled on the UK brand of the Penguin biscuit. The usual price of a packet of Tim Tam’s is $3.21 and on this particular week in the Wheatbelt (and beyond I believe) they were flying off shelves for $1.49. It was creating angst amongst the community.
Brian Wansink, a leading author and psychologist and author of ‘Mindless Eating’ points to research that show we are very much influenced by in store promotions. Through several experiments, his team found sales increased with virtually any type of promotion but the use of numbers really sealed the deal. An offer of ‘3 for $6’ sold more products that the same promotion price of ‘$2 each’. Then there are the ‘Buy one get one free’ or ‘3 for the price of 1’. Manufacturers fund price promotions in supermarkets and get such great returns they still make a profit plus they hope that once you have tried a product, you will stick with it. Supermarkets win too, because you are attracted to their store and will probably buy more than the item you went in there for.
The problem with the Tim Tam super duper special is that like any high fat and/or sugar food, if it is languishing in your pantry or beckoning to you from the biscuit jar, you will eat it. Before you fall for a promotion and go sprinting toward the red flashing light aimed at encouraging you to buy in bulk, think about whether you really need to be eating more of this particular food and whether it is a true bargain for your health as well as your bank balance.