Comfort in the Familiar

In 1964 when legendary ad man George Lois was working on the Aunt Jemima account, the Quaker-owned brand was known for pancake mix but it didn't make a syrup. He said to them, 'How come you guys don't have a syrup? You own the pancake business,’ And they said, 'Well, that's not what we do.’ And they came up with several reasons why they didn’t have a syrup.

Comfort in the Familiar:

Lois decided to drop the idea into a consumer survey about pancake habits. The last question listed a number of syrups, and included the words 'Aunt Jemima Syrup'. People were asked 'Which of these syrups have you bought in the past year? Eighty-nine percent said they had bought Aunt Jemima syrup, which was non- existent. He showed Quaker the research and said ‘Look, people believe they are already buying Aunt Jemima syrup. Would you please make Aunt Jemima syrup?' They then created it, and within a year it became the leading syrup brand in America.

Pancake consumers were ready to endorse a product that didn’t even exist because they had confidence and comfort in a brand that they already knew. This is called endowment - behavioural economics in action - before the term was coined.

Behavioural economics advocates that endowment is important in understanding the degree to which people are likely to purchase and pay for products that they know (or think they know) versus a product that they don’t.

This type of insight fuels great marketing strategy and that’s what we do at Insight Inside.

Paul Leatherdale