Experiments? Not!

November 2, 2010 BY danariely

A few days ago we wrote the nice people at Whole Foods about some ideas for doing experiments together.  These were going to be experiments on taste perception, willingness to pay, and on how we get people to eat healthier and enjoy more fruits and vegetables.


Here is the official response we got back:

Thanks so much for considering Whole Foods Market for this opportunity…. While the concept is quite interesting and the subject matter is aligned with our stores, we will unfortunately be passing on this opportunity at this time.


Thanks so much for considering us and please don’t hesitate in reaching out to us in the future.


Best regards,



What annoys me is the combination of  “aligned with our stores” and “no.” And of course it is not just Whole Foods that is in this boat.  Companies in general are willing to spend lots of money on consultants, they are willing to spend lots of money on gambling that their intuitions are correct, and sometimes they even pend money on focus groups.  But, when it comes to testing things empirically, the typical answer is “interesting, but  not for us.”


I suspect that the reason for the reluctance to engage in experiments is that no one (for example Michael from Whole Foods) wants to take any risks.  Everyone just wants to do their job.  Because of that companies continue to behave in the same way without taking any new interesting directions….  very sad.


Sorry about this post, but I had to vent somehow.