When a Bad Sandwich Gets It Good and A Good Cola Gets a Bad Rap

Primanti Brothers SandwichWho thinks this stuff up?

Pittsburgh with a friend and he, the native, explains that you don’t go to Steel Town without having a sandwich at Primanti Brothers. 

It seems that years ago the drivers from the produce businesses that line the river would race over to Primanti to get a sandwich.  One rather hurried and harried driver was asked if he would wait for his grilled potatoes while they got a container to put them in.  Behind schedule our intrepid truck driver instructed the restaurant to “just put them on top” of his meat and put the bun on top.

It is now almost 80 years later and you can still get a Primanti sandwich complete with bun, meat and a liberal layer of French fries on a sandwich that looks like a Storks nest gone bad. 

The recent G20 Summit of the world’s greatest economic powers moved the Primanti sandwich from a local/regional standing to the world stage.

The truth is that MY Primanti sandwich was NOT-THAT-GREAT. 

But aren’t regional dishes and restaurants an acquired taste anyway?  Skyline Chili in Cincinnati.  Pirogues in Cleveland.  Crown Burgers in Salt Lake City (which are awesome actually.)   And the two competing Philly Cheese Steak wonder houses of Geno’s . . . and across the street, Pat’s.  I do know for a fact that you have lived a deprived life until you have eaten at both, although I do prefer the Geno’s sandwich with the works and “wiz” (you gotta go there). 

But what is it that makes a Primanti a “must have?”

It is the same thing that makes the best tasting cola drink in the world unavailable for purchase.  That’s right.  By research and study, the best tasting competitor to Coke and Pepsi cannot even be found on shelves anywhere.  Why?  Because “new coke” got a bum rap by the locals – who just happen to live all the way across the country. 

So the common thread. 

We buy things based on emotion and not on logic.  Why are there so many pairs of shoes in your closet?  Emotion.  Why so many fishing poles, or golf clubs, or dried flower arrangements.  It is not because of any logic (“thank you Mr. Spock”).  Like so many of our favorite things, we buy based on emotion. 

In one focus group study a manufacturer wanted to indeed know which catsup (or is that Ketsup?) was the best tasting.  To find an impartial, non-brain washed group they went to a third world country and asked the local focus group which they liked.  Heinz?  Del Monte?  Hunts? 

The answer.  None of them.  They thought all of these products were horrible and wondered why anybody would eat this nasty, pasty red stuff. 

Is it really all in our heads? 

Not always.  But once your product or service has a home in the mind of your customer as “theirs” you have to mess up pretty bad to lose your brand, your franchise. 

So how do you do that?   Bad quality.  Changing tastes. 

But the biggest one is being focused on internal politics, power struggles, and the day to day stuff of running a business.  A sure fire formula for destroying your value and equity with the customer is to not be listening! 

The way to keep your business growing?  Oh quality is still important.  Making sure your business is run well. 

But number one? 

Being focused on the customer and making sure THEIR experience is great, and getting better every day.  Meeting their needs and wants.  There are no short cuts to respect for the customer. 

Now can we go get a sandwich and a coke?

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