Why Wawa’s $1 Coffee Promotion Is Brilliant

The entire goal is to help you create a habit—for better or worse.

If you’ve been to Wawa lately—or seen any of the giant billboards along area highways—you know Wawa’s slinging $1 cups of coffee all month long. The promotion applies to any size and any variety, meaning you can get a 12-ounce original roast for the same price as a 20-ounce Kona blend (with French vanilla creamer, please).

Kudos to the Wawa marketing/ad/sales team for coming up with this particular promotion. My conspiracy theory: They want you to bump up a few extra ounces for the duration of the promotion, so that when it ends, you’ll be so used to the extra caffeine jolt—not to mention, reaching for that 20-ounce cup—that you’ll stick with the habit, even after prices return to normal.

I bring this up not to poo-poo on Wawa and its coffee (I actually love the place and the product), but to point out that this is all Habit Forming 101. While there’s no hard, science-proven evidence that it actually takes 30 days (or 21 or 28, depending on who you ask) to form a habit, it makes sense that if you do something over and over, every day for an extended period of time—like, you know, buying a larger cup of coffee—you’ll get into the habit of doing so. Bank account and jitters be damned.

But here’s the thing: If you can do it with coffee, who’s to say you can’t develop a habit to, say, walk to work instead of taking the bus everyday? Or to eat low-fat yogurt instead of a donut for breakfast? Or to switch to water instead of your lunchtime diet Coke?

All those changes could add up to some big strides toward better health. I think Wawa’s really on to something.