I had a product moment when I was refueling over the weekend. As is often the case with refueling, my mind was on auto-pilot. The fuel system was very good – no hitches until I had to pick the grade of fuel I wanted. My hand naturally moved towards clicking the button on the left. But, just as I was about to press it, I stopped.
“91” was written on the button. And, there seemed to be lower numbers next to it. By now, my brain was getting out of auto-pilot mode. Ah – so, Chevron had the most expensive product on the left while my natural instinct was to expect the cheapest variant on the left. I chose regular and smiled at the smart product design.
3 questions emerged –
1. Is there a real difference between the 3 variants of fuel? I tend to be skeptical of such variants and view them largely as pricing gimmicks.
2. How much more had Chevron earned due to other users who’d clicked the “Supreme” variant out of instinct?
3. Assuming users generally realized they picked the most expensive variant by mistake (and assuming people don’t normally do that), does this happen more than once? I’d imagine people are on their guard the next time they refuel.
Small changes in products can make a big difference. Companies like Facebook have run millions of experiments on which locations optimize clicks, for example. And, a big part of smart product design is understanding “auto-pilot” behavior – both to make the product intuitive as well as, in cases like this, to monetize.