You like things? I like things! It’s hard not to, am I right?
Liking others, and being likable, is essential in the art of persuasion. People don’t help or support those they dislike.
But what if the things that someone likes aren’t capable of reciprocating that affection? They’ll forever support that, too.
People will dismiss an opportunity for improvement or learning if it means they might have to question their behavior… or their access to a favorite treat.
I could never eat healthy — I like cookies too much!
I love my morning Frappachino!*
Well, I don’t smoke that much.
This represents the most insidious of all the Liking: Consumables. Food, soda, beer, drugs.
*It’s 2017 — is Frappachino still a thing?
In previous posts, we’ve discussed different forms of liking.
People liking People is a two-way street. People liking Brand Names is more one-way, but those businesses can still value their customers and create a sense of community around that shared identity.
People liking Consumables
Biologically and socially, humans are designed to consume.
Right now, you have access to the most perfectly delicious processed food the world has ever known. Most likely, you can have this artificial delight in your hands within the hour. These foods are chemically tweaked and perfectly tuned to excite your mouth and your brain.
Processed food is designed to be addictive. The ingredients are tested as dozens of different recipes, tested and refined to maximize profit at the “bliss point.”
Unlike the other two forms of liking, consumables need to be continually renewed.
We need foods every day. Many people consume soda every day, or smoke, or take drugs. Some of these might even be illegal.
Our big brains and inefficient cardiovascular systems should be telling us to stop eating such horrible foods, of course. Stop smoking. Stop drugging it up. Because we have such frequent interaction with these items, we quickly normalize this consumption.
Unlike brand names, which we like across their product lines, these are individual products that may not be attached to a single brand.
For example, you might prefer fuel from one gas station over another. Nationwide, you may pick that single chain when getting gasoline. That’s the power of brand loyalty.
But people don’t much care what brand of chocolate cake they’re eating. The sugary “bliss point” nearly guarantees they’ll like it. The brand is far less important than the consumable item itself.
Like a Venn diagram, brands and consumables overlap a bit. We love McDonalds because of childhood memories, and we love fast food hamburgers because they’re designed to addict us. No doubt, fast foods meet many of our modern needs. McDonald’s happens to meet both of these desires.
People will fight irrationally to maintain some specific behavior in their lives, to the complete exclusion of anything that may threaten these favorite behaviors.
The overweight guy who won’t think twice about his diet if doing so threatens his love of ice cream (hint: there are a lot of inputs to a diet).
The party-goer who won’t start a budget if it threatens his weekends out (hint: there are a lot of outputs to a budget).
You might judge these people, but their brain is addicted to this behavior that they don’t change. Something in their past has caused that experience to be so powerfully enjoyable, that they’re forever chasing that same experience.
Consumables do this to all of us. Foods that we expect to trust as healthy, like deli meats and breakfast bars, have added sugars and fats and salts.
Our brains light up with the experience that’s been dialed in for maximum enjoyment, with the expectation that we’ll come back for more. In the food industry, this designed experience is known as the Bliss Point.
We all go back for more, not even knowing we’ve been hooked.
Personally, I love Asian food. Ice cream. Frozen chocolate bars. Whiskey. My best bet is to keep them out of the house for when my willpower inevitably fails.
What’s your poison?