Tuesday, May 01, 2007

New York State Of Mind

Last night while watching Keith Olbermann (in the interest of full disclosure), I saw a commercial for KFC. The point of the commercial was to tout the fact that their product now has no trans fat. This prompted an interesting discussion at my house (where, again in the interest of full disclosure, both of the adult family members write for this blog).

We speculated that, because KFC’s franchises in New York City had to comply with the city’s recently-implemented ban on trans fats in restaurants, a corporate decision was made that it would be easier just to change the formula across the board rather than to create a separate formula for New York City locations. Having done so, KFC now gets to boast to its customers nationwide that its products have improved in this respect. Since it seems that people in this country are indeed becoming increasingly concerned about such things (a concern that seems to flourish even as our body types are reportedly becoming increasingly endomorphic, but that’s a different topic), I would imagine that this change earns KFC some points that may translate into market share, at least in places where its competitors are not required to do the same thing. Certainly it looks like that’s what KFC is hoping.

This stands in contrast to what I understand goes on in the automobile market where, due to stricter emission standards in California (and perhaps a few other places), cars made for sale there are actually different from cars made for sale in other states. Auto makers apparently have so far found it more appealing to comply with multiple sets of standards, rather than to comply with the strictest one and tout their cars as more “green”. But, at least at the moment, it’s almost as trendy and desirable to be “green” as it is to be “fat-free”.

If KFC’s marketing campaign bears fruit, I wonder if it is translatable to other areas -- auto emissions is one that comes to mind; smoking restrictions is another; undoubtedly there are others. If so, seemingly unique or outlying regulations from left-leaning places like New York City or California could have a much greater impact on consumer goods and services than their geographic limits would suggest. And this impact will be caused by, of all things, the fact that maybe it turns out that market forces “like” these regulations after all. I have to say it makes me smile.