Spaghetti Sauce and Cover art. The new ipad revolution

magazine cover on a ipad

Spaghetti sauce back when I was a child in the 1970’s  consisted of 2 choices, Ragu or Prego.  All this changed when a product researcher I admire by the name of  Howard Moskowitz* had an industry breakthrough that seems so obvious today to strategic creatives.  While researching Spaghetti sauce for the struggling #2 sauce maker in america “Prego” he had a revelation – the solution to Prego’s problems was not finding the perfect spaghetti sauce,  the solution to improve sales for prego was finding the perfect “Sauces” (plural).  Our world up until Moskowitz’ revelation consisted of totalitarian choices of one spaghetti sauce for everyone.  No chunky or garlic, vegetarian or meaty, no zesty, no plain.  We were only given one choice from Ragu, and one choice from prego – that was the simple life in the 70’s.  Back then product researchers attempted to create one product to please  as many people as possible, yet the answer to increased sales was simply marketing products to multiple types of  “peoples’.  The answer was multiple products.  Howard created dozens of  very different spaghetti sauces and through taste tests learned that people would usually break up into at least 3 or 4 groups. We can all thank Moskowitz for Chunky, zesty, vegetarian and yes, extra meaty.

Cover desigers 7 marketing creatives  will soon have wonderful new research tools as the ipad brings digital magazines to the masses.   Sure the publication numbers are small at the moment but the new technology will bring a wonderful new ability to art directors.  Like Moskowitz you will now be able to “market taste” your cover designs on the ipad before hitting the printing presses.

Yes, “Taste”.   you see traditional Analog market “tests” required large and time consuming (expensive) samples in order to achieve usable data.  The new digital magazine marketplace will allow directors to create quick market “tastes” of multiple magazine cover designs a week prior to press, resulting in incredibly accurate data  about cover choices from around the globe.  All of this data is compiled relatively inexpensively and can be organized by age, location and gender.  (We will surely one day witness cover design on the ipad change according to different regions of the country, or even possibly based on the reselling website)

Traditional (pre Moskowitz) product, research companies needed to create extensive questionaires about a product and try to magically conjure up useful information from these epic forms.   But there was a design flaw in their questionair’s.   They did not take into account that  human beings can usually be grouped into 3 primary personality types.  Also missing from the data was the fact that people are not always honest about their “feelings” when given only one choice, especially when it comes to taste and design.  See article Blah vs Pleasing.

Milton Fleitas

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*I first came across Howard Moskowitz at a 2nd hand bookstore with a copy of “New Directions for product testing and sensory analysis of foods” one of my prized books in my library and I got it for $1 around 1998.  It caught my eye because of my early work for Taco Bell just out of college in a design role.  part of the priveleges of working for a successful Pepsico division  the late 1980’s was a free lunch! But there was a catch…. you had to eat (3) different versions of your taco, burito or enchirito served to you in a laboratory by men and women in white coats.  I hasten to say this concept of constant research by corporate restaurant labs is probably due to in some part the work of Howard Moskowitz.

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