A Great Marketing Insight From A Tea Vendor!


There is a small tea stall outside my office.

This guy’s shop is always crowded. His tea is great!

But the tea cup in which he serves his tea is a bit small. That much amount always leaves you a bit unsatisfied.

I always used to wonder why did he do that?

Once that I asked him–and I got an amazing insight from him!

Your offering should never satiate your customer. You should leave him just a little bit unsatisfied.

Perhaps a lot of readers will disagree with this insight. But, I have found some truth in it. And below I explain why:

Two basic psychological principles apply here:

1. Law of diminishing marginal utility: The more we have of a thing, the less satisfaction (or utility) we get from every marginal amount of that thing.

2. Recency effect: We most recall the most recent events in our lives

If we connect the above two dots and also keep in mind that his tea tastes great, it becomes clear that if the amount in the tea cup is just enough, the following things will happen to the customer:

  1. He will feel happy due to the excellent quality of tea
  2. He will feel a bit unsatisfied as the tea serving was less than what he would have otherwise wanted it to be

Net net, he will remember 2 things:

  1. The cumulative satisfaction from all previous sips
  2. The satisfaction from the last sip

Since both these effects would be psychologically good, he will return pretty soon for another cup of tea!

I was initially discounting this insight. After all what can an ordinary tea vendor teach an MBA!

But, as I reflected more on it, and as I connected this insights with some of my own experiences (e.g. the fact that I craved the small coke bottle much more than the 300 ml one), this insight has grown on me!

Please do reflect! 

Key Insight

Your offering should never ‘fully’ satiate your customer. You should leave him just a ‘little’ bit unsatisfied.