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03.25.2006

Yes, But What KIND of Animal?

critter_vs_critter.jpgSometimes I think that in college statistics courses and job entry screening for folks who conduct surveys, someone must be surreptitiously reprogramming people so that they never quite end up asking the right questions. Oh sure, they gather lots of useful information, some of it actually stuff you want to know. But they never quite end up asking the really important stuff.

We all know, and have known for a long time, that critters on wine labels make for better sales. In today's news we learn that recently some folks even quantified it: wines with fuzzy animals or animal names outsold their competition two to one.

But nobody has really bothered to ask what I feel is the most important question:which animals are best?

I really want to understand the psychology behind this phenomenon. Would kittens sell better than koalas? What about mice versus ducks? Is the attraction to animal labels the same motivation that drives sales of stuffed animals (bears, seal pups, and dogs dramatically outselling frogs, insects, and snakes)? Or is the phenomenon something different -- some association between the animal and our imagination of what the wine will taste like? Kangaroos would definitely taste better to me than pigeons. Even baby pigeons.

C'mon statisticians. Give us what we really want: the penguin vs. polar bear smackdown.

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