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Fractions and Marketing in the 80's


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A funny-sad story from "Under the Influence" (CBC radio show) about how the general public's poor math skills help the Quarter Pounder win out over a competitor in the 1980's.  Poor understanding of fractions is nothing new, apparently.

"More than half the people in the focus groups questioned the price of the third-pounder. They wanted to know why they should have to pay the same price for a third of a pound as they did for a quarter pound at McDonald's. They said A&W was overcharging them. You're ripping them off.

People genuinely thought a third of a pound was less than a quarter pound. Because 3 was less than 4."

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19 hours ago, wathe said:

A funny-sad story from "Under the Influence" (CBC radio show) about how the general public's poor math skills help the Quarter Pounder win out over a competitor in the 1980's.  Poor understanding of fractions is nothing new, apparently.

"More than half the people in the focus groups questioned the price of the third-pounder. They wanted to know why they should have to pay the same price for a third of a pound as they did for a quarter pound at McDonald's. They said A&W was overcharging them. You're ripping them off.

People genuinely thought a third of a pound was less than a quarter pound. Because 3 was less than 4."

Aaaaand this comes back to what I always say about mental models and teaching math 😉 . Guess how many years most people have spent manipulating fractions? MANY. But they never got any kind of mental model... 

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Oh, man-at first I thought for sure it was because no one wanted that much meat (that would be my reason-ha!) until I read that there were actual focus groups...

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I remember this.  It's why Hardee's made such a big deal about their ThickBurger, showing how much bigger it was than a quarter-pounder.  They didn't want a repeat of before.😄

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On 4/17/2021 at 10:29 AM, Not_a_Number said:

Aaaaand this comes back to what I always say about mental models and teaching math 😉 . Guess how many years most people have spent manipulating fractions? MANY. But they never got any kind of mental model... 

I know a person who is brilliant at carpentry math that involves fractions but struggles with using fractions in other domains.  It seems odd on the surface, but I suspect that something is missing in their mental model of fractions.  

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28 minutes ago, ChickaDeeDeeDee said:

I know a person who is brilliant at carpentry math that involves fractions but struggles with using fractions in other domains.  It seems odd on the surface, but I suspect that something is missing in their mental model of fractions.  

Yeah, I bet they came up with some model that only works in carpentry and doesn't work for anything else! 

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