Delight Frequency vs Delight Depth

A friend in the VC community asked me to evaluate a mobile wishlist and deal finder.  Interestingly, that’s what SF darling Pinterest first raised money for with HelloTote.

I advised my friend to focus on how deeply and frequently consumers get delighted by the product.

  • Low delight, high frequency products offer a user low levels of delight daily. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Zynga are great examples.
  • High delight,  low frequency products offer delight a handful of times each year.  RentTheRunway and acted upon 50% off deals fall in this category.

If your product doesn’t offer over 50% off, you need to make sure it can deliver delight often. Delight can come in many forms:

* Getting a comment from friend and feeling a sense of connection

* Earning a badge and getting a sense of accomplishment

* Learning something

* Getting a laugh

* Showing something cool

What you don’t want to offer is a few dollars of savings or a few comments from friends a few times a year.  That is what a comparison search engine or mobile shopping tool might do.  Web comparison search engines like and need to invest heavily in advertising and search engine optimization because their product delivers only moderate savings and delight.  They struggle with retention.  A mobile app has an even more difficult time with retention because intent-based marketing opportunities like Search Engine Marketing on the web are immature on mobile.

And, of course, the deeper the delight you provide the more you can charge a consumer.

What impresses me about BirchBox is that they’re doing everything with their community, points, deals, instructional videos, and personality.

On the other hand, I fear Foursquare doesn’t offer quite enough delight beyond just badges with their low levels of interaction among the community and low monetary rewards.

Lastly, “time until first delight” is a metric that will drive retention and virality.  A wishlist and deal finder can  struggle to make a user delighted on their first visit.  On the other hand, a social site the lets a user interact with a friend or earn a badge, or a daily deal sites can offer 50% off, can do much better on offering some delight over the first 30 days.

How often do your favorite products delight you? Where to they fall on the chart?

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Boastful Boar’s Head Easily Delivers 50% of Daily Sodium at Lunch

Boar's Head Deception. September 2010.

Boar’s Head celebrates that they’re the first deli company to meet the New York City Department of Health’s National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI) recommended 2012 target levels for sodium in deli cold cuts and cheeses. The ad above appeared on a MetroNorth train from New York to New Haven in early September, 2010.  It makes a bold claim. So bold, that I’d expect to see a typical deli sandwich have less than 50% of my sodium for the day.  Sadly that’s not true. Boar’s Head is benefiting from not actually selling sandwiches.

Delis use 6 oz,  10 oz or sometimes even 1 pound (16 oz) of of meat per sandwich. So, when I let the deli make my sandwich, I’m getting about 50%-100% of my days sodium from just the meat. Let alone the bread, which can easily add another 10% of your daily recommended sodium.

“Maple Glazed Honey Turkey” is of my go-to deli meats . Yet, I don’t really know how that meat gets to my plate, as it doesn’t look like the turkey my mom makes on Thanksgiving.  Something happens along the way, which adds lots of salt.

Boar's Head Nutrition info

The nutrition info above is for 2 oz servings.  Yet, my sandwiches I make for myself are typically a  quarter-pound, or 4 ounces. Turns out that my conservative quarter-pound of turkey meat is giving me 36% of my salt for the day–before counting the bun.

Boars’ Head met the guidelines put out by NYC for deli meats ( NYC recommends 810mg of salt per 100 g of meat ). Yet, my complete deli lunch on a turkey sandwich can still contain 100% of my salt for the day. See how:

  • Boar’s Head Honey Maple Turkey (1/2 lb, 72% of daily sodium)
  • Arnold Kaiser Roll (1 roll, 1 serving, 11% of daily sodium)
  • Small bag of Lay’s Potato Chips (1 oz bag, 1 serving, 7% of daily sodium)
  • Can of Coke ( 12 oz can, 1 serving, 2% of daily sodium)

Unless Boar’s Head  encourages 2 oz or 4 oz servings of their meat, they should stop being so boastful.

This is a great opportunity for delis to make more money while making customers healthy. It’s simple: delis should advertise & price by portion size, using current prices for the small recommended portion size. Consider a deli menu offering 3 meat sizes, with prices relative to your current prices:

  • Healthy-size (4oz): less $0.50
  • Full-size (8oz):  plus $1.00
  • Super-size (12oz):  plus $3.00

What do you think?  Should Boar’s Head be less boastful?  Should delis standardize and charge for the amount of meat in each sandwich?

[UPDATE on 9/10:   3 oz of fresh turkey has 55g to 80g of sodium-- that's 90% less than Boar's Head's Low Sodium offerings! Put another way, Boar's Head's Low Sodium turkey has 500-1000% more sodium! So, my preferred outcome is that delis in NYC carry freshly roasted turkey that is free of the unnecessary sodium. ]

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Notes from New York Viral Media Meetup on 9/7/2010

The recent meetup on Viral Media had an AMAZING cast of speakers, who each spoke for about 10 minutes. Thanks to AOL for hosting, Jon Steinberg for organizing, and the NY tech community for supporting such great events.

The panel had a great mix of experiences.  From the recent action at Reddit (why are they on Digg’s front page?) to old Milgram experiments, the panelists covered it all.

The speaker list included:

  • Duncan Watts, Principal Research Scientist at Yahoo! Research, author of the great book Six Degrees
  • Nihal Mehta, CEO Buzzd, discussing their new viral offers
  • Greg Galant, Sawhorse Media, on building a viral product: Shoutworthy
  • Erik Martin, Reddit, “How something goes viral on Reddit”
  • Brian Morrissey, Digital Editor AdWeek, “The Science of Sharing”
  • Tim Schigel, CEO
My favorite framework came from Greg Galant at Sawhorse. He said that viral products or campaigns must have 3 elements:
  1. Social Action – Enjoyment of the app or experience REQUIRES sharing
  2. Star Vehicle – Usage of the app or product enhances user’s career or social life, perhaps helping them better communicate with fans or friends. For example, Formspring and Twitter offer celebrities and self-promoters a new way to get their message out
  3. Ruckus – The app or product has something special or noteworthy. Perhaps it sparks imagination or disgust. Maybe its first to market. Maybe it has some simple hook that can easily be passed on.   My mom can’t explain why people Tweet, but she knows its a public message of 140 characters or less. People who don’t use FourSquare still know you can announce where you are and become mayor.

My favorite chart came from Tim of CEO  He said that certain verticals have more people in them who are likely to pass on content in the vertical.  Specifically, it appears that health content has a higher concentration of readers who will share the content.  See the full chart from their case study below:

There was a general agreement that to have a viral hit, you need to try often.  Duncan said its better to regularly trigger lots of small cascades, instead of trying to predict one large cascade.  Brian noted that “Elf yourself” was  one of 25 microsites by OfficeMax for the holidays, and only the elves went viral. [credit to @papillonc for elf reminder]. After the demo, Buzzd’s CEO said they regularly test content on their homepage which gets millions of unique visitors each month to see what has viral potential.

Duncan also noted that “less than 98% of tweets aren’t retweeted, and the majority of those that do, are retweeted once”. [credit to @justinjustin for reminder]

Lastly, I was impressed with how Erik and the 4 person Reddit team handled their recent opportunity from the Digg redesign.  He offered sage advice about milking a viral hit.  Once you have something going, you should do whatever you can:  change your logo for a day, release your stats to bloggers, turn your community into ambassadors, and go above and beyond to keep your company and its hit in the limelight.

Again, many thanks to all the panelists, organizers and hosts. I can’t wait for the next meetup.

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How useless information makes great deals

Everything at is marked down from some higher price. But is that marked down price a good deal? In a Washington Post article by Michael Rosenwald, behavioral economists note that we have a tough time knowing how to value the utility we will get from most of the stuff we buy. We struggle to figure out the real “value to me” of an iPhone or movie.

Retailers like us to think the value of a deal is measured by the difference between the “original price” and the “current price”. Instead, we should look at the difference between the “value to me” and the “current price”.

Given this difficulty we have setting prices, its hard to believe a perfect exists. Or if it does exist, its based on imperfect prices.

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