Selling Social Warmth not Coffee

Tasse_KaffeeLarge companies like Starbucks and McDonald’s are, according to Reuters, taking part in a coffee war.  The end game seems to be higher percentage sales increases for both companies. However once the dust settles the individual will still have the option of traditional or gourmet coffee. Yet, behind all the percentages, profit margins and price promotions might be more than a habit of a favorite caffeinated beverage.

Consider a recent investigation by Ijzerman and Semin (2009), which concluded that the mere exposure to a warm drink allows the perception of being closer to another individual compared to individuals holding a cold drink.  One interpretation could be that individuals are seeking social warmth from their favorite stimulating warm drink.

This conclusion does not appear to be such a long shot when considering freelance writer David DiSalvo’s take on the investigation.  DiSalvo argues that the investigation by Ijzerman and Semin (2009) and others is evidence that our perception is influenced by unconscious factors. It is no wonder then that warm drinks such as traditional or gourmet beverages have become so popular that companies are competing to be the top choice. Individuals in turn experience the perception of feeling closer to another, albeit unconsciously.

square-eye Read more: Link to Reuters article

square-eye Read more: Article commentary

square-eye Ijzerman, H., & Semin, G. (2009). The Thermometer of Social Relations: Mapping Social Proximity on Temperature

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