Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The “All you can eat” fever!

Yess I’m back with a discussion on a fever which is almost over with the end of Ramazan.  I’m not very much into economics but I do remember the basic Law of diminishing marginal utility my eco teacher taught me which stipulates:

“A law of economics stating that as a person increases consumption of a product there is a decline in the marginal utility(The additional satisfaction a consumer gains) that a person derives from consuming each additional unit of that product.”

My eco teacher shared a basic example for this law: If I’m thirsty and its hot out there, I would want a chilled bottle of coke. When I drink a bottle of coke, I'll gain some utility. Ahhh yes I want more. When I will drink another bottle of coke, I will gain more utility but on a lower scale because the second bottle won’t be much refreshing as the 1st one. And If I continue doing that, there will be a stage where my utility will become negative and it would yield disutility and I would be rushing to the washroom.

If you think for a moment, Aha.. That’s the ground on which buffet-style restaurants operate. They entice you with "all you can eat deals," while knowing each additional plate of food provides less utility than the one before.

Although Buffet restaurants continue on the same approach throughout the year, but in the month of Ramazan, most of Ala Carte restaurants also start offering all you can eat iftar+dinner. This Ramazan I also caught the same fever of all you can eat. After visiting Rangoli, Lal Qila, Shan e Mughlia, student biryani etc. the most crowded place I found was Pizza Hut where all you can eat and drink for Rs 700 (600+Tax). I noticed people of all ages were there at Pizza Hut to fill their appetite after whole day fast. 

Being a rational consumer we calculate, value for money  on our every spend. Driven by our sense of value. Similarly, at pizza hut Everyone would be calculating how much slices should he or she must have to make the deal worth it. If I recall  that deal started off for Rs 250+tax  which  is now offered for Rs  600+tax. If you ask me the max slice I ate so far is eight with three glasses of drink. But I'm cool with that.

When we're spending 700 rupees for all you can eat pizza, we forget the taste has to be that good as well. But the taste is not the same either nor the service. At times there is too much gap in one serving that you decide that you're done. I remember my last year experience with Ahsan came back from Kuwait, I was actually served four slices in the given time!

Another side of the picture, where there are people in our country who don’t even have food to eat, we see loads of pizza’s getting wasted where people just eating the topping discarding the crust just to claim eating 25 slices to “make the deal worth it and to save stomach space”  If you came all the way to pizza hut just to eat cheeze, you could have grabbed cheese slices from a store and saved your time and money!

This is how the law of diminishing marginal utility works. You go to a pizza hut and the first slice of pizza you eat is very good. On a scale of ten you would give it a ten. After 3 slices, your hunger has been somewhat under control, but you get another slice. Since you're not as hungry, your enjoyment rates declines to seven at best. Most people would stop before their utility drops even more, but hey..  you gotta have the value for your money and your greed makes you want more so grab more slices and your utility drops even more to three. If you keep eating, you would eventually reach a point at which your eating makes you sick, providing dissatisfaction, or 'dis-utility.' The ultimate result, puking, stomach aches, bad stomach etc.

The bottom line, All you can eat offers have become just a race and greed for eating more than you can handle instead of a tasteful pleasurable experience pizza hut is known for. I remember my nana abbu used to say "Baita pait hai dozakh nahi k bharay he na"

A similar experience a friend of mine Zubair had at a buffet restaurant, where he spent around Rs 1000, ate hardly for 10 minutes and he was done, which means that buffet cost him Rs 100 per minute experience! You can read his post below:


Farheen said...

I'm quite surprised you actually had the stamina to go to so many places for iftari! All you can eat offers are a waste of food and money. Not only that, the whole experience is more of a harassment than an enjoyment.I think it has become a big brand exercise, more than anything else.

Owais Moeen said...

Actually This Ramazan was spent mostly with my colleagues rather than my family so I hardly miss any enticing offers

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