A Product Manager Pays $35 for a Sandwich

I bet you think I'm going to tell you about the most incredible sandwich ever. In detail.

Well, I'm sorry to disappoint, but this article contains no mention of burrata, no braised brisket, and no bechamel. This is the story of a very ordinary sandwich, that I bought at a very extraordinary price, and why it made me consider the pricing model of said sandwich.

So why did I pay $35 for a sandwich?

 This was NOT the $35 sandwich. Although this sandwich does look quite tasty.

This was NOT the $35 sandwich. Although this sandwich does look quite tasty.

I was in Norway, and I was hungry. If you’ve ever been to Norway, you’ll absolutely believe a $35 sandwich was the cheapest thing I could find to eat in Tromso on Boxing Day. (Americans: Boxing Day = December 26). 

Strangely, the purchase of this incredibly expensive (yet ordinary) sandwich made me think about pricing models.

 This is not the reported $35 sandwich.

This is not the reported $35 sandwich.

Sandwiches? Pricing models? Let me explain.

In Norway, when you purchase anything, much of the final cost of the item is sales tax - about 25%. So what you pay for the sandwich is actually paying for much more than some bread and cheese.

Assuming you're a Norwegian citizen, you're not paying $35 for just the sandwich. You're paying for your healthcare, your university education, and unemployment benefits, too.

 FOOLED YOU! This isn't even really a sandwich. It's just avocado toast, which we already know is bankrupting Millennials and should be outlawed.

FOOLED YOU! This isn't even really a sandwich. It's just avocado toast, which we already know is bankrupting Millennials and should be outlawed.

The point of this post is NOT to get political and debate the pros and cons of socialized medicine and the rising cost of college tuition. 

Taking politics out of the equation, as a product manager, I asked myself the question:

Assuming no change in quality, would users prefer to pay for healthcare and college tuition:

 

  • As one large, lump sum at the time of consumption

  • Little by little over time, via an increased price of things we will buy anyway, like sandwiches

Healthcare and college tuition are never 'free'. Different countries simply have different pricing models for how citizens and residents pay for these 'products.'

In Norway, 'users' pay for healthcare and college tuition by paying a much higher price tag for stuff they regularly buy - toilet paper, tomatoes, shoes - while Americans pay insurance premiums and student loans.

I realize this is a drastic simplification, and an unfair question without going into a lot of detail. However, at a high level, it is a question worth pondering.

Which pricing model would you prefer, given a choice?

 This is the $35 sandwich. Notice it doesn't even have two pieces of bread, which I'm pretty sure if a requirement for something to be considered an actual 'sandwich.'

This is the $35 sandwich. Notice it doesn't even have two pieces of bread, which I'm pretty sure if a requirement for something to be considered an actual 'sandwich.'