Conscious consumption: Grounds for debate?

“Tall, decaf latte, half skinny / half soy, with extra shot, but no foam, in a venti cup, super hot, no lid, to go… “

How do you take it? Most of us have at some point queued behind a person placing a very specific and abnormally complicated food or beverage order (or we might even be that person).

Assumptions about such a customer typically fall into one of two camps – depending on whether we think of them as showing attention to detail and high standards, or being attention-seeking and high-maintenance: We likely label them discriminating, or difficult. Either way, they probably did get the drink they asked for, because they could and they knew it.

Preferences and prejudice aside, the customer was simply making their selection from what was on offer. All the options and the custom combination (however unusual) are available. Nothing is being ordered ‘off menu’.

The barista can make and price the drink for sale, just like any other, with no exceptional requirement on their part (except perhaps a little added concentration). The system works.

So, what if we take the view that it is all about getting green and ethical options onto the menu; not the ‘specials’ but the main board, the one in use every day, in every outlet, in every town.

Fix supply; demand will follow. Rig the agenda. Simple.

But how far would you go? What about amending or removing menu items that did not fit with your vision?

How much is it acceptable to load the dice with choice-editing to advance behaviour-change faster and further?

At what point does your steer stop being direction and start becoming coercion?

When does motivation turn into manipulation?

Just a little something to think about… over coffee…