What’s happened is an interesting take on consumers applying ‘good enough’ principles. The most Malthusian of brand strategists predicted that consumers would toss their gold-plated-truffle-coated-limited edition products in the bin and buy basic: trading down. In actual fact, savvy consumers have been trading across.
Clever brands, knowing that consumers won’t sacrifice convenience; have been quick to tailor products to this new breed of consumer. Consider Zipcar, the pay-by-the-hour car rental. In major cities, owning a car simply doesn’t make financial sense for many people, but neither does giving up on the convenience of getting around. If you can’t afford to buy and service a car, so what? A monthly rental is ‘good enough’. Or high tech digital cameras: if your mobile now takes high enough quality snaps, it’s good enough.
In Autumn, IKEA will release another of its space-saving , bank friendly products that we’ve come to associate with the brand. But no beech or MDF in sight, for this time it’s a TV. The assumption is that consumers are more concerned with the convenience of the offering – and in this case, the lack of nuisance peripherals and cables – that buying that 3D, large format Sony just isn’t worth it.
It’s a similar story with the recent sellout of Marni’s collection for H&M, or the introduction of Netflix in the UK: consumers don’t need the £500 label or special edition DVD. If it’s available in a more convenient form, it’s good enough. Why sell your house with the bloke in the suit that’s offered you a ‘complimentary’ bottle of beer in exchange for a crippling fee? Sites such as Sarah Beeny’s Tepilo.com offer the same service, streamlined.
And the moral of the story? Keep your eyes open. Follow consumer behaviour patterns than rather than always competing with the Joneses. Rather than adding extra toppings, sometimes it’s the way you bake it that counts.