Automatic flower delivery and incentives

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Save My Ass is a subscription service that automatically sends flowers to someone of your choosing (like your wife or girlfriend). You tell it about significant dates, plus they schedule deliveries at random intervals throughout the year.

Superficially this looks like a good deal: you get the credit for being regularly thoughtful without having to expend any effort other than the one time subscription. But consider, it's true that women (in my experience, flowers are usually sent by men to women and not the other way around) like flowers, but what's primarily going on is that sending flowers is a signal that you cared enough to think about it. That signal worked because it used to be expensive to send; you actually had to be thoughtful. Save My Ass lets you send that signal without really being thoughtful. So, does the recipient of the gift realize that and value it less?

My intuition is probably not. Emotional reactions are seldom logical and as Robert Cialdini observes, even clearly fake gestures of liking elicit powerful emotional responses (pointed out to me by Kevin Dick). And since our culture trains us so thoroughly that flowers are a signal of liking, the mechanism should still work in the short term.

On the other hand, if this becomes popular I expect the effect to diminish. A generation of women raised in an environment where flowers can be sent without any additional effort is likely to value them much less.

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3 Comments

I think you're right that this service undercuts the basic (implied) premise of sending flowers (the first half of "I thought of you and wanted to show I care"). I wonder if people will come to appreciate being offered (what amounts to) a flower subscription?

Though I feel compelled to note that, perhaps contrary to male expectations, women don't like flowers only because they are expensive and difficult! We like 'em because they're *pretty* and *fresh* and you don't get 2 bouquets the same, ever.

You can customize the messages sent with each bouquet, which adds in a touch of personalization. You're perfectly free to write all the personalizations for the next year whenever you feel like it though, for those who like to plan their spontenaeity in advance.

It's brilliant, though pretty much any good local florist will do this for you if you ask. My wife owns a flower shop, and they have a large number of automatic deliveries that they take care of for busy men. They do this not just for wives and sweethearts, but moms and grandmothers also. You HAVE sent your mom flowers recently, haven't you?

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