Killer calories

How many calories in a slice of carrot cake? As an aficionado of this surely healthy vegetable snack, I’ve always assumed it’s a couple of hundred, tops.  After all, it couldn’t be more than the reported 340 in a full-fat latte… could it?

Then I was in Sainsbury’s cafe yesterday.  I noticed they’d started flagging up the calorific value of their offerings.  Chocolate cake – haha! – 420 calories – the suckers who eat that.  Except my self-righteous glee was short-lived.  There was the carrot cake (looking delicious, though on reflection perhaps a little dessicated)…and a little sign saying “822 kcal”. What? I exclaimed: They carrot be serious! But apparently they are. Googling reveals this stuff comes a close second to finest-grade anthracite in the energy stakes.

Okay, so I sidled past the display, tray empty. Meanwhile the sleepy marketing numskulls in my brain were stirring. Surely that little sign is having a negative impact upon sales?  As I guiltily ordered a skinny latte, I tentatively inquired: “Do you sell much carrot cake now you’re displaying the number of calories per slice?”

The reply: “No – but the chocolate cake is going gangbusters.”


    As we gather more data, rather than get clarity we are actually getting more confused.  We need to return to the consumer, they are not a number but a real person who feels, thinks and acts in ways that data often can’t predict. I agree that the secret in understanding the consumer is not in data but in psychology.  (Love the Ardvark tool Chris.)

  • Chris Arnold

    Thanks Sarah. AardVarK was developed in association with a top management consultancy and has been proven to dramatically improve communication effectiveness and sales.


    I get frustrated sitting in meetings listening to analysts trying to explain consumer behaviour when you know they have missed the point. Data often ignores one key factor – the creativity. It’s the Spock of marketing, all logic and no emotion. John Lewis’ Christmas ad was the most talked about, and loved ad, of 2012. It was NOT a product of data but understanding human emotions (psychology). Same can be said about Gorilla. It’s also what makes most of the top virals work. Data can be very useful, it can help improve media channels and placement but 95% of what makes a piece of communication work is the creative. And data can’t make a bad idea work better. Marketers need to refocus back to WHAT actually engages consumers not just on the WHERE and WHEN. My fera is that big data is pushing many further up the ivory tower.

  • Chris Arnold

    Interesting piece by Claire Beale on data in Marketing.

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