Spaghetti Sauce, Your Small Business, and Happiness

Person writing on a whiteboard. The word on the whiteboard is GOALS

Perspective can change everything. Howard Moskowitz, psychophysicist, re-invented spaghetti sauce and changed the path of marketing forever. How? A change in perspective.

I watched Malcom Gladwell, the author of popular books like “Tipping Point” and “Outliers,” give a Ted talk about Moskowitz and it changed my perspective on marketing. Which in turn, changed my perspective on happiness. In Malcom Gladwell’s Ted Talk, he told the story of Howard Moskowitz. If you don’t already know, Moskowitz is famous for telling Pepsi they needed to be looking for the greatest Pepsis, not the greatest Pepsi.

People thought he was crazy.

But, Moskowitz persisted to challenge major brands to fundamentally shift the way they viewed their marketing and their products — their perspective. His ideas ended up changing the very course of these brands.

At the time, companies would try to identify the largest clusters of common interest among their customers with the goal of finding the product that serves all of them, or at least the most of them, the best.

Moskowitz said, no, you’re going about it all wrong. There’s no such thing as a perfect product because not everyone wants the same thing.

He changed their perspective on happiness.

He is most famous for his work with spaghetti sauce and Prego. He created over 45 different varieties of sauces with every variance possible. Then he asked people to rate them. He got a mountain of data. Then, he didn’t look for most popular. He looked for clusters.

This shift changed the theory of horizontal segmentation in Marketing and pioneered the idea of  intermarket variability.

He identified three main clusters: plain, spicy, and extra chunky. One was a flavor that 1/3 of americans wanted, but not a single company was selling. Because of Moskowitz technique, Prego completely took over spaghetti sauce, eventually creating over 36 other flavors based on these clusters.

Why is this important?

This changed how we thought about making people happy. We used to just ask people what they wanted. The problem is people don’t always know what they want. We can’t always explain what we want deeply.

He helped us discover horizontal segmentation, which is the simple idea that there are differences in what people want and it’s not just based on better or worse. It’s not only vertical. It’s horizontal.

Read: 10 Advantages for Startups Partnering with a PEO [FREE EBOOK]

For the longest time there was this focus on creating the perfect product that all consumers would be drawn vertically to. This perspective is about pleasing the maximum number of people. They were looking for universals. Every company was trying to do this, not just food companies.

From Universals to Variability

Now, instead of worrying about creating something that makes the masses pretty happy, we are interested in creating what makes different clusters of people really happy.

We usually don’t talk about Marketing on this blog much because it’s not what our services are all about. But, we are all about the happiness of business owners. Embracing diversity for your service/product is the way to get there. Apply this perspective to your small business. Are you focusing on finding the one-size-fits-all product? For your customers? For your employees?

Your happiness, the happiness of your employees, and the happiness of your customers is not a universal state. There’s no one happiness that matches everyone. It is diversified. It always looks different. It’s horizontal. Just like spaghetti sauce.

Here’s to reaching your happiness today, whatever that looks like. Sometimes, all it takes is a change in perspective.

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